The Understudy (Seinfeld)
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Andy Ackerman|
|Written by||Marjorie Gross & Carol Leifer|
|Original air date||May 18, 1995|
|Season 6 episodes|
|List of Seinfeld episodes|
Jerry is dating Gennice, the understudy of stage performer Bette Midler, who bursts into tears for foolish reasons (for instance, when she drops her hot dog at the park) but not for expected reasons (such as when her grandmother dies). In the opening moments of the episode, Jerry and Gennice are in his apartment watching the film Beaches (starring Midler), and she is sobbing. He cannot decide whether to move from his chair to the couch to console her, but is not inclined to.
During the game, in a parody of the 1994 Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal, George accidentally injures Midler, who is playing catcher, while he charges for home plate. While Midler goes to hospital, the understudy takes Midler's part in the musical Rochelle Rochelle. Gennice believes George did it all for her, but Kramer is outraged at George, Gennice and Jerry (who, after all, did nothing wrong):
"So, my dear, you think you can get to Broadway. Well, let me tell you something. Broadway has no room for people like you. Not the Broadway I know. My Broadway takes people like you and eats them up and spits them out. My Broadway is the Broadway of Merman, and Martin, and Fontaine, and if you think you can build yourself up by knocking other people down... GOOD LUCK."
Enraged New Yorkers turn against George, Jerry and Gennice, while Midler is nursed back to health by Kramer, who fetches every food and drink she desires.
Meanwhile, Elaine brings Frank Costanza to her favorite beauty shop to translate the jokes being made at her expense by her Korean manicurists. Within moments, Frank realizes they are insulting him in Korean, and angrily confronts them. It happens that an old flame, Kim, is also working there, but Elaine is thrown out of the shop and banned for "spying." Despondent, she wanders the streets of New York on a rainy night, where she meets J. Peterman, and when they find themselves compatible in discussing clothing, she wins a new job.
Frank takes Kim out and discuss their future in his car. When he uses his "special move" on her, "stopping short" (see also episode "The Fusilli Jerry"), she gets angry and never wants to see him again.
When Gennice finally takes the stage, she has a problem with the laces on her boot and, in an act reminiscent of Harding's bootlace incident, tearfully asks that she be allowed to start over. In a scene after the credits, Jerry is seen unlocking his front door. He overhears Kramer and Bette singing in Kramer's apartment.
- The fictional film Rochelle, Rochelle ("a young girl's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk") makes its first appearance in the episode "The Movie". George later rents it from a video store in "The Smelly Car". Here, it has been adapted into a Broadway musical.
- The off-camera voice crying out, "Oh my Gosh, Bette's hurt" is that of Larry David.
- This is the first episode not to have Jerry's stand-up routine, even in the original version.
- Michael McDonald, who later joined the cast of MADtv, had a brief role in this episode as one of the Rochelle, Rochelle softball players. McDonald would also appear in next season's "The Wig Master".
- This is the first episode in which J. Peterman makes an appearance.
- An infamous Buddy Rich quote from the underground bootleg tapes of Rich throwing temper tantrums, "This guy - this is not my kind of guy", is used in this episode.
- Frank Costanza, with his ex-Korean girlfriend in the passenger seat of his car, stops short (which causes her to end the relationship). "Stopping short" is Frank's "move," which originated in "The Fusilli Jerry."
- Van Cassel, Elke (2006). "Getting the Joke, Even if It Is About Nothing: Seinfeld from a European Perspective". In David Lavery and Sara Lewis Dunne. Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain: Revisiting Television's Greatest Sitcom. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 179. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Gross, Marjorie and Carol Leifer. "The Understudy". IMSDb. Retrieved August 12, 2012.