The Understudy (Seinfeld)

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"The Understudy"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no.Season 6
Episode 24
Directed byAndy Ackerman
Written byMarjorie Gross & Carol Leifer
Production code621
Original air dateMay 18, 1995
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Face Painter"
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"The Engagement"
Seinfeld (season 6)
List of Seinfeld episodes

"The Understudy" is the 110th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the 24th and final episode for the sixth season. It aired on May 18, 1995. This is the first episode in the series not to open with a stand-up routine.


Jerry is dating Gennice Graham, the understudy of Bette Midler, who is starring in the stage musical adaptation of "Rochelle Rochelle" (the film first mentioned in "The Movie"). Gennice bursts into tears at the slightest thing, such as the film Beaches and when she drops her hot dog (although she doesn't cry when her grandmother dies), compelling Jerry to have to console her repeatedly.

In a parody of the 1994 Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal,[1][2] George injures Midler during a charity softball game held in Central Park, sending her to hospital, enraging New Yorkers and in particular Kramer, who helps nurse her back to health.

With Bette Midler in hospital, Gennice the understudy takes over the lead role and believes they injured Midler for her (Jerry says people have started calling him "Gillooly", after Harding's husband Jeff Gillooly).

Meanwhile, Elaine thinks her Korean manicurists are making fun of her in Korean behind her back (as indeed they are). When she learns that Frank Costanza is fluent in Korean, she brings him to the manicurists to eavesdrop. When he arrives, he reunites with an old flame Kim, who he once knew in Korea (but they broke up because he would not take off his shoes upon entering her house). When the manicurists realize Elaine sent Frank to eavesdrop, they become angry and kick her out "for spying". Despondent, she wanders the streets of New York in the rain, where she meets J. Peterman. They hit it off and he hires her to work at his catalog.

Frank (who is separated from Estelle), takes Kim out and discusses their future in his car. When he uses his "special move" on her, "stopping short" (first depicted in "The Fusilli Jerry"), she gets angry and never wants to see him again.

At the premiere of the musical, Elaine brings along the Korean manicurists as an apology for spying. However, when they learn that the lead role will be played by Gennice not Bette Midler, they are outraged and storm out, leaving Elaine upset once again.

When Gennice takes the stage during the credits, she has a problem with the laces on her boot and, in an act reminiscent of Harding's bootlace incident at the 1994 Olympics, she tearfully asks that she be allowed to start over.

In the post-credits, Jerry hears Bette Midler's voice in Kramer's apartment and decides not to investigate.


  1. ^ 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 (eds.). Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain: Revisiting Television's Greatest Sitcom. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 179. Retrieved 2009-04-09.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  2. ^ "What's the best pop culture reference to Tonya Harding?". 12 November 2008.

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