The Apology (Seinfeld)

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"The Apology"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 9
Directed byAndy Ackerman
Written byJennifer Crittenden
Production code909
Original air dateDecember 11, 1997
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Betrayal"
Next →
"The Strike"
Seinfeld (season 9)
List of Seinfeld episodes

"The Apology" is the 165th episode of the hit NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the ninth episode for the ninth and final season. It first aired on December 11, 1997.[1] It is well known for the appearance of James Spader as Jason 'Stanky' Hanky.



Jerry begins dating Melissa (Kathleen McClellan), a woman who is comfortable being naked in his apartment in nonsexual contexts. She walks naked into the kitchen to eat waffles and is also naked while playing board games. While George is envious, Jerry soon grows uncomfortable with Melissa's quirk. He finds her unattractive when she does anything naked that involves her muscles contracting. Eventually, Jerry tries casual nudity himself, but Melissa does not support male nudity ("bad naked"). Elaine later explains that the female body is art while the male body is just utility. Ultimately Jerry convinces Melissa to wear clothes more often, but regrets his decision when he cannot stop thinking about how good she looks naked. Unfortunately Melissa cannot stop thinking of how bad Jerry looks naked, and the relationship is ruined.


George learns that Jason Hanky (James Spader), a childhood friend of his nicknamed "Stanky Hanky", is a recovering alcoholic and, as part of Step 9 of the Alcoholics Anonymous's Twelve Steps, is apologizing for all his old misdeeds. George gets angry when he does not receive an apology from Jason for having insulted him at a party a few years earlier by refusing to give George a sweater for fear it would be stretched out by George's "large" head. But Jason refuses to apologize, saying that the largeness of George's large head is a fact, and that the sweater was expensive.

Hanky: No way, you would've completely stretched it out.
George: You're an alcoholic! You have to apologize. Step Nine! Step Nine.
Hanky: All right, George, all right. I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry. I'm so sorry that I didn't want your rather bulbous head struggling to find its way through the normal-size neck hole of my finely knit sweater.[2]

This enrages George so much that he is brought by one of Jason's sponsors to an anger management class.

Kramer and Elaine[edit]

Kramer decides he enjoys showers so much that he is going to spend most of his time in his shower, even going as far as to buy a waterproof phone, prepare a dinner there and install a garbage disposal in his bathtub drain.

Elaine's co-worker Peggy (Megan Cole; also seen in the episode "The Susie") is a germophobe who dislikes Elaine because she thinks she is promiscuous and therefore full of germs. Insulted, Elaine takes revenge on Peggy by going to her office and rubbing the keyboard on her rear end, her stapler under her armpit, and finally coughing on Peggy's doorknob.

David Puddy reveals to Elaine that he too is a recovering germophobe. Later, Elaine makes up with Peggy by inviting her for over for a dinner cooked by Kramer. But when Kramer reveals that he prepared the dinner in the shower, they are all horrified. Peggy and Puddy have to go back to Germophobes Anonymous, with Elaine now joining them.

Critical reception[edit]

David Sims of The A.V. Club wrote, "Kramer decides to live in his shower because it's Kramer and he does silly things like live in the shower. I do like the setup he creates for himself—it reminded me of George's under-desk paradise when he worked for the Yankees," referring to the episode "The Nap". Sims added, "The only real misfire in The Apology is Jerry's naked girlfriend of the week who is naked so much that Jerry becomes desensitized to it. This is just a concept that never gets going, as right as Elaine may be about how male nudity is always 'bad naked'." Sims chiefly discusses the guest actors: "If nothing else, this is a great Puddy episode... Puddy is the hero of The Apology—and that's in an episode where James Spader guest stars. Spader is a funny actor for Seinfeld to feature in its ninth season, but his turn here comes at the start of his fallow period, after he was in Crash and then basically never appeared in a commercial movie again, but well before his career revival in The Practice and Boston Legal. He's actually perfect casting for the role of sarcastic recovering alcoholic Jason Hanky—it's never hard to buy Spader as a jerk, and his recovery clearly hasn't quite cured him of his jerkdom. So we're sort of on George's side, even though his problem with Hanky is pretty dumb, and (surprisingly for season nine) very Larry David..."[3]

Siyumhaseinfeld writes, "This great Top 50 ep has such classic scenes and oft quoted lines as "Hanky, others.", germaphobe, man you're currently sleeping with, Rum Raisin, Metlife windbreaker, good naked - bad naked, and the whole stapler butt [sic] thing is just great. A welcome addition to the Top 50."[4] For clarity, these are the lines Siumhaseinfeld refers to:

  • [In the cafe] George: Oh, hello, Hanky, others.
  • Elaine: She's this crazy woman who is convinced that my germs make her sick. Puddy: Oh, germophobe. I know what that's about.
  • Peggy: Elaine, it was very nice of you to bring the man you're currently sleeping with over to talk to me, but I assure you, I don't have any problem with germs. Puddy: Don't you? ... I know it looks bleak. I've been there. Ten years ago waking up in bed next to a woman like this would've sent me running for the Phisohex. Peggy: Really? Puddy: I still have trouble looking at those disgusting old bedroom slippers she slogs around in. Elaine: Hey, I've had those since college. They're bunnies. Puddy: They're bacteria traps. Peggy: So you just learned to live with it? Puddy: For the most part. Elaine: OK, we're broken up for the rest of the day.
  • Hanky: I'm not sorry. I was never sorry. It was cashmere. I hate Step Nine! Where's that Rum Raisin? Where is it? Can't find anything. I need a drink.
  • George: I had to walk around for the rest of the party in some cheap MetLife windbreaker. Now, it is payback time.
  • Jerry: But the thing you don't realize is that there's good naked and bad naked. Naked hair brushing, good; naked crouching, bad.
  • Elaine: Yeah, let me tell you something: this is all in her mind, OK? She is insane. She thinks I made her sick because I coughed on her doorknob, rubbed her stapler in my armpit, and put her keyboard on my butt. Yeah, she's a wacko.[2]

AllRovi wrote, "The Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step plan is the motivating factor of this episode. But there's more, much more... (Did we say Alcoholics Anonymous? It should have been R.A. -- "Rage Anonymous.")[5] The Orange County Register summed up the episode in its critique: "Except for the typically stupid Kramer subplot, not bad."[6]

Social science writer Eric Horowitz explains the dynamic situation between George and Hanky:

From Hanke's point of view, he doesn't need to apologize because there was no mistake. His priority was to not let George ruin his sweater, and he took what he felt was the course of action that would best accomplish that. Why would he apologize for something he would do again? George, on the other hand, wants an apology specifically because Hanke displayed so much intent in his refusal. If Hanke accidentally wronged him it would be fine. It's Hanke's belief that he did nothing wrong that makes George so infuriated. The same fact — that Hanke knew exactly what he was doing — causes opposite reactions. It makes George crave an apology, but it takes away Hanke's reason to apologize. It turns out that the tiff between George and Hanke may be a fairly accurate representation of human nature. According to some new research, the intentionality of an action causes the perpetrator and the victim to feel differently about a potential apology. The study, which was led by Joost Leunissen of Erasmus University, is based on the idea that a victim's desire for an apology stems from feeling angry and wanting assurance the transgression won’t happen again. In contrast, perpetrators want to make an apology when they feel guilty and want to signal they were happy with the status quo of the relationship.[7]


  1. ^ "The Apology" -
  2. ^ a b Crittenden, Jennifer (December 11, 1997). "The Apology". The Internet Movie Script Database (IMSDb). Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  3. ^ Sims, David (March 8, 2012). "The Apology / The Strike". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  4. ^ Arras, Paul (2012). "SEINFELD - Season 9, Episode 14 - The Strongbox". Watching the 90s: Television and Film Notes and Musings. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  5. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Seinfeld: The Apology (1997)". AllRovi. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  6. ^ Durgin, Vance (February 22, 1998). "SEINFELD WATCH - Good naked and bad naked on Seinfeld rerun". The Orange County Register. p. F5.
  7. ^ Horowitz, Eric (January 4, 2013). "What Seinfeld Can Teach Us About Apologies". Peer-Reviewed By My Neurons. Retrieved April 11, 2013.

External links[edit]