The Cartoon

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"The Cartoon"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 13
Directed byAndy Ackerman
Written byBruce Eric Kaplan
Production code913
Original air dateJanuary 29, 1998
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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Seinfeld (season 9)
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"The Cartoon" is the 169th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the 13th episode for the ninth and final season. It aired on January 29, 1998.[1][2]


Plot[edit]

Kramer gets Jerry into trouble when he reveals Jerry's dislike of Sally Weaver (Kathy Griffin) directly to her when they meet on the street. Elaine obsesses over the meaning of a cartoon that appears in The New Yorker. George gets upset when Kramer comments that George's new girlfriend Janet (Tracy Nelson) looks exactly like Jerry. Kramer makes a number of remarks about it that make George (and Jerry) uncomfortable including "just because they look alike, that doesn't mean you're secretly in love with Jerry."

After Sally claims that Jerry has ruined her life and she's quitting show business, Jerry confronts Kramer about his big mouth always causing problems. Kramer therefore decides to stop talking and communicate non-verbally from that point on.

Elaine goes to The New Yorker offices to seek an explanation for the cartoon but discovers that even the editor (Paul Benedict) didn't understand the cartoon either – he simply liked the drawing. Elaine decides that she would be able to do a better job of drawing New Yorker cartoons herself and the editor invites her to draw one.

A bitter Sally opens her new one-woman show called "Jerry Seinfeld, the Devil" where she complains about him. Unsurprisingly, Newman becomes a big fan. But each time Jerry confronts her about it, she adds his angry remarks to her show. Jerry eventually threatens her with a cease and desist order and cuts of all communication.

Elaine gets her cartoon published The New Yorker. She is delighted, until she shows it to her boss J. Peterman, who discovers that it was plagiarized from a Ziggy comic. Elaine later supposes that she copied it subconsciously because her boyfriend David Puddy has Ziggy bedsheets.

Sally runs into Kramer at Monk's and is unhappy about her lack of material due to Jerry ending all communication. She prompts Kramer out of his vow of silence and he provides her with a whole new series of secrets about Jerry for her show.

An uncomfortable George is desperate to learn that his relationship with Janet is not about her appearance. But she makes him feel worse when she reminisces that all of his first comments to her were about her looks. When she gets gum in her hair at dinner she goes home to cut her hair, revealing a new hairstyle that looks exactly like Jerry's hair. A horrified George runs away.

Later, George and Jerry say that they should "never speak of this again".

Background[edit]

The episode was inspired by comedian Kathy Griffin's ridiculing Jerry Seinfeld during a stand-up comedy performance on HBO where she stated that he was allegedly rude to her during her first appearance on the sitcom, in the episode "The Doll". Seinfeld was so amused by this that he wrote her a humorous letter congratulating her for it (reprinted in her memoir, Official Book Club Selection), added the clip of her routine as well as a clip of her being interviewed about the incident by Conan O'Brien to a video shown to audiences at Seinfeld tapings and had it written into the series.[3][4] Griffin said, given that this was one of the final ten episodes of Seinfeld, "I felt like it was part of history-making television."[5] Griffin and Seinfeld have remained friendly in the years since.[6][7]

This episode was also notable for its subtle criticism towards the cartoons published in The New Yorker, which none of the characters seems to understand. The episode's writer, Bruce Eric Kaplan, had himself contributed many cartoons to The New Yorker, and he drew upon some of his own experiences for this part of the plot.[8] Kaplan said of the cartoon subplot, "To me, the most interesting part of that story was the idea of not understanding a cartoon."[9] Elaine tries to contribute to the magazine with a simpler and understandable cartoon, but ends up subconsciously lifting a Ziggy joke.[10][11][12] This part of the storyline was later remembered by the media when in 2008 Jessica Seinfeld was falsely accused of plagiarizing a cookbook.[13][14]

The New Yorker tribute[edit]

On July 18, 2012, The New Yorker paid tribute to the episode. Contest #342 was a drawing of a pig at a complaint window. The winning caption was printed in the next August 27, 2012 issue of the magazine and read "Stop sending me spam!" It was submitted by Sean Lynch of Brooklyn, NY.[15]

Reception[edit]

Vance Durgin of The Orange County Register wrote that the episode was "funny all the way, because of writing mostly true to the characters."[16] Barbara Vancheri of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gave the episode a "7.5" on a ten-point scale.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Cartoon" - TV.com
  2. ^ Seinfeld: the totally unauthorized tribute (not that there's anything wrong with that) - David Wild - Three Rivers Press - pp. 63 (1998)
  3. ^ Walter, Tom (January 27, 1998). "Anti-Seinfeld routine gets comedian back on show", The Commercial Appeal, p. C4.
  4. ^ a b Vancheri, Barbara (January 31, 1998). "'Sein'-off", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, p. B12.
  5. ^ Pergament, Alan (January 29, 1998). "Bashing Jerry in her HBO special earns Kathy Griffin a 'Seinfeld' break", The Buffalo News, p. C5.
  6. ^ "Bringing the A-List to Its Knees" - The New York Times
  7. ^ "A proud 'D' list diva" - Toledo Blade
  8. ^ Carter, Bill (January 29, 1998). "On the set with: Jerry Seinfeld: Final Days, And Laughing All the Way", The New York Times, p. E1.
  9. ^ BEK to the Drawing Board: An Interview with Bruce Eric Kaplan, Hogan's Alley, 2001[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Drawing criticism - New Yorker cartoonist lifts legend's work" - New York Post
  11. ^ "Ziggy turns 35, remains optimistic" - MSNBC
  12. ^ "There Are Many Ways Out of the Cloaca Maxima" Archived 2012-06-03 at the Wayback Machine - Baltimore City Paper
  13. ^ "Complaint: Jessica Seinfeld's Cookbook Infringes, Jerry Defamed Author" - The Hollywood Reporter
  14. ^ "The Big Scandal: Cookbook Controversy" - FoxNews.com
  15. ^ "Seinfeld" and Elaine's New Yorker Pig Cartoon : The New Yorker - Robert Mankoff - The New Yorker - July 18, 2012
  16. ^ Durgin, Vance (February 1, 1998). "Seinfeld Watch: The Final Season: An episode with reminders of the best", The Orange County Register, p. F4.

External links[edit]