At the height of Seinfeld’s popularity, the powers that be at NBC were extremely happy to have the show air on their network. As a result, it seemed like Jerry Seinfeld and the other people who worked behind the scenes on Seinfeld had very few guardrails. In fact, the show Seinfeld was able to get away with an awful lot even before the sitcom became such a massive hit. After all, it is commonly agreed that one episode of Seinfeld led to the show becoming a phenomenon but Larry David had to fight for “The Bet” to air in the first place.
Even though the people in charge of NBC were willing to do just about anything to keep Seinfeld on the air, including offering Jerry millions for another season, there were some lines they wouldn’t cross. For evidence of that fact, all you have to do is look at the fact that one episode of Seinfeld that was scripted never went into production. The reason for that is the people in charge of NBC learned about a storyline the planned Seinfeld episode was set to feature and deemed it too controversial to air on their network.
Seinfeld’s Other Most Controversial Episodes
Looking back at Seinfeld’s history through a current lens, it is pretty surprising that an episode of the show was so controversial that it was never filmed. After all, several Seinfeld episodes that aired went far enough that they would almost certainly be deemed shocking today. In fact, one Seinfeld episode caused an uproar even back when it first aired and it was removed from reruns.
During Seinfeld’s ninth season, an episode titled “The Puerto Rican Day” aired in 1998. During the closing moments of the episode, Kramer accidentally burned a Puerto Rican flag and stomps on it in an attempt to put it out. Since the flag burning was witnessed by several people celebrating the holiday, Kramer gets chased away and they proceed to destroy Jerry’s car. Watching the destruction of the vehicle from a window after escaping into an apartment, Kramer remarks “It’s like this every day in Puerto Rico”. Unsurprisingly, this sequence upset many and the episode was only added back to syndication packages once that scene was removed.
Another Seinfeld episode that may not go over well today is “the Outing” due to the gay panic featured not being mitigated by the repeated “not that there’s anything wrong with that” line. Season 5’s “The Cigar Store Indian” also wouldn’t go over well today for obvious reasons. “The Merv Griffin Show” also features troubling scenes where Jerry makes his girlfriend eat turkey and consume lots of wine so she passes out, allowing him to play wither her toys against her will.
The Seinfeld Script That Was Too Controversial To Film
As everyone knows, Seinfeld is one of the most popular and influential sitcoms in television history. As a result, Dennis Bjorklund has written several books covering the show including “Seinfeld Reference: The Complete Encyclopedia With Biographies, Character Profiles & Episode Summaries”. For that book, Bjorklund clearly did exhaustive research about everything that went on behind the scenes of the legendary show. After all, Bjorklund unearthed some explosive facts about Seinfeld’s history that fans of the series were unaware of.
One of the most interesting Seinfeld facts that Dennis Bjorklund uncovered is that Julia Louis Dreyfus and longtime Seinfeld director Tom Cherones had a joke nixed. As it turns out, “The Bet” was set to have Elaine point a lethal weapon at her own head while making a Kennedy assassination joke. Ultimately, fans never saw that moment realized due to the efforts of Dreyfus and Cherones.
Since Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld have a history of being controversial, it isn’t overly shocking that the show they co-created together was willing to cross the line from time to time. Still, it is pretty amazing that Dennis Bjorklund’s aforementioned book revealed how far one Seinfeld script went and what happened as a result.
“NBC censors pretty much let Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David get away with whatever they wanted on Seinfeld. One of the few exceptions was a proposed episode in which George got in trouble for observing, ‘You know, I have never seen a black person order a salad.’ Uh-uh, said NBC. An entire episode on masturbation? Fine by us. But there will no joking about the dietary habits of African-Americans on this show. The script was nixed.”
While talking to Screen Crush in 2014, the man who wrote that script and the Kennedy assassination joke, Larry Charles, explained his take on where comedy should be allowed to go. “If it were on Louie, you wouldn’t think twice about it … I think Louie has proven, and Curb Your Enthusiasm has proven as well that those subjects are worthy of exploration and comedy. I reject the idea that certain subjects should not be touched upon.”