Seinfeld: 5 Most Dated Episodes (& 5 That Will Always Be Relevant)

Seinfeld is one of the most successful sitcoms ever made and it continues to be loved today. However, a few of the episodes are somewhat dated today.

July 5, 1989, marked the premiere of Seinfeld on NBC. From that day on, television would never be the same. Despite branding itself as “the show about nothing,” Seinfeld made an indelible mark on American culture. It coined phrases like “double-dipping” and being the “master of one’s domain.” It created character archetypes like the “Soup Nazi” and the “Close Talker,” and even founded its own holiday that some people actually celebrate in real life.

Despite having ended its nine-season run in May of 1998, much of Seinfeld‘s extensive episode catalog remains relevant to this day. Of course, some episodes haven’t aged quite as well as others.

Dated: The Outing

At Monk’s Cafe, Jerry and George prank an eavesdropper by pretending they’re a gay couple. Little did they know, the eavesdropper was the college reporter who was supposed to meet Jerry at the coffee shop to do a profile on him. She eventually prints that Jerry and George are a couple, and chaos ensues.

When “The Outing” first aired, homosexuality was far less accepted than it is today. One of its repeated catchphrases, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” is taken as a given nowadays, making much of this episode’s humor fairly obsolete.

Still Relevant: The Dealership

Some things will never change. One of those things is worrying about getting a good deal when buying a car. When Jerry goes to buy a new car from Elaine’s boy toy David Puddy, George accompanies him to make sure he doesn’t get ripped off.

George’s doomed effort to perform a task as basic as buying a Twix candy bar from the vending machine is a metaphor for how at a car dealership, nothing is as simple as it seems, and the customer often ends gets taken for a ride.

Dated: The Bubble Boy

George being strangled by the Bubble Boy in the Bubble Boy episode of Seinfeld.

Jerry agrees to go upstate to visit an acquaintance’s sick child. Jerry gives George and Susan the address and plans to follow them to the “Bubble Boy’s” house on the way to a weekend retreat at Susan’s father’s cabin. George, however, drives too fast for Jerry to keep up, and so George arrives at the Bubble Boy’s house by himself, while Jerry and Elaine get lost in the country.

This episode’s events would never happen in the age of GPS, as today, Jerry could have simply navigated his own way to the house.

Still Relevant: The Dinner Party

The gang is invited to a dinner party, but before they go, they have to split up into two groups and each buys something to bring with them. George complains that every time he’s invited to a dinner party, there’s an “annoying little chore” that goes with it.

At its best, Seinfeld spoke to the social anxieties of everyday people in everyday situations, and this episode is a perfect example. Proper dinner party etiquette is a timeless mystery that transcends evolving social norms, and so this episode will never get old.

Dated: The Cigar Store Indian

Jerry buys Elaine a “Cigar Store Indian” as a peace offering after an argument. This offends his girlfriend, Winona, who he hadn’t realized was a Native American herself. The episode traffics in numerous stereotypes that would be considered especially offensive today.

Sports teams in Washington, D.C. and Cleveland have recently agreed to change their teams’ names because they are deemed racially insensitive, and this is just one of the ways in which society is slowly waking up to the offensive stereotypes in Indigenous cultures. This episode would certainly rub many modern audiences the wrong way were it to air in 2020.

Still Relevant: The Pen

When Jerry and Elaine visit Jerry’s parents at their Florida condo, Jerry offends their neighbors by reluctantly accepting an astronaut’s pen as a gift from the overbearing Jack Klompus. Any New Yorker whose parents moved to Florida will attest to the spot-on realism and enduring relevance of this episode, which perfectly captures the essence of the South Florida retiree scene.

It’s also the only episode of Seinfeld not to feature George Costanza. Actor Jason Alexander was so insulted at being written out of it that he nearly quit the show altogether.

Dated: The Phone Message

Thinking he’s being avoided, George leaves an angry message on his girlfriend’s answering machine. When he finds out she wasn’t ducking his calls but was merely out of town, he hatches a plan to steal the tape so she won’t ever hear his obnoxious rant.

Of course, in the era of cellphones, no such storyline could exist. Younger audiences today wouldn’t even understand the concept of an audiotape playing back a recorded voicemail message, and so this episode has long passed its shelf life.

Still Relevant: The Parking Space

Seinfeld - The Parking Spot

When George pulls up alongside a car and goes to parallel park behind it, Jerry’s friend Mike attempts to pull in front-first and steal the spot. This leads to an all-day argument and passers-by chime in and take sides as well.

Regardless of the numerous technological advances made since the episode first aired, parking spaces in Manhattan have remained difficult to come by. Not only does this episode accurately demonstrate the unwritten rules of New York City street parking, it also illustrates New Yorkers’ notorious desire to make their opinions heard at every opportunity.

Dated: The Puerto Rican Day

Mayhem ensues when the gang gets stuck in traffic at the Puerto Rican Day Parade, including when Kramer inadvertently sets fire to a Puerto Rican flag. This episode is so dated that the week after it aired, NBC was forced to apologize for its offensive content, and banned re-runs of it from airing on the network.

“The Puerto Rican Day” was one of the last episodes to air, and took 10 writers to finalize its script. It’s widely considered to be the worst ever episode in Seinfeld history.

Still Relevant: The Strike

This episode’s title is a tad misleading, because even though it’s technically called “The Strike,” every fan knows it as the “Festivus episode.” Festivus, of course, is the bizarre holiday that George’s father created to protest the commercialization of Christmas.

In the episode, the Festivus ceremonies take place on December 23rd. Though “The Strike” first aired in 1997, Seinfeld fans still acknowledge December 23rd as “Festivus” to this day. It’s perhaps the most enduring of eternally relevant of all Seinfeld episodes, and for good reason.

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