Each ‘Seinfeld’ Season’s Most Underrated Episode

Each ‘Seinfeld’ Season’s Most Underrated Episode

Seinfeld, of course, is considered to be among the greatest sitcoms of all time, with classic episodes like “The Contest” and unforgettable characters like the Soup Nazi. But there are some episodes that — like a few of Kramer’s business ideas — have gone overlooked and are way too underrated.

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Here’s my list of the top underrated episodes from each season of the show and why they should receive more love...

Season 1: ‘The Stake Out’

Why It’s Not Master of Its Domain: None of the five episodes in Season One are regarded as prime Seinfeld, and for good reason: The show was in its infancy, with underdeveloped characters and a not-quite-there vibe.

Why It’s Real and Spectacular: The plot, characters and dialogue in “The Stake Out” plant the seeds for the show’s future. Elaine makes her first appearance as she and Jerry toe the line between friendship and past romance, and George and Jerry concoct their first lie as they create an elaborate backstory as to why they’re waiting in the lobby of the law firm Sagman, Bennett, Robbins, Oppenheim and Taft. In fact, this backstory is when George invents his alias, Art Vandelay, who’d become a building block for many of his future fibs.

Season 2: ‘The Phone Message’

Why It’s Not Master of Its Domain: This episode centers around Jerry and George and the great lengths George goes through to delete phone messages he left for his girlfriend on her answering machine. However, Elaine and Kramer are barely present, and the concept of an answering machine tape is pretty outdated in 2023.

Why It’s Real and Spectacular: Although Elaine and Kramer are noticeably absent, the episode is quintessential Seinfeld, revolving around Jerry and George, who are at the heart of the show. The episode was heavily written by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, which is apparent in the dialogue, and the plot is based on David’s real-life experience trying to swap out an answering machine tape.

Season 3: ‘The Tape’

Why It’s Not Master of Its Domain: George develops an attraction to Elaine after finding out that she’s the sexy voice on Jerry’s tape recorder. The unrealistic storyline of George — and subsequently Kramer — becoming romantically interested in Elaine feels out of place. “The Tape” also has no memorable catchphrases.

Why It’s Real and Spectacular: David said that Julia Louis-Dreyfus gave the show “luster,” with Seinfeld saying that she was the pearl that smoothed over the rough, low-minded behavior of the other three characters. “The Tape” is excellent proof of exactly what they were talking about. Not to mention, we get to experience a dynamic between Elaine and George that we hadn’t seen before.

Season 4: ‘The Old Man’

Why It’s Not Master of Its Domain: Out of the Season Four episodes, “The Old Man” has the lowest IMDb rating, with a score of 8.0. The episode’s premise is also odd for Seinfeld, featuring the gang volunteering to help the elderly. This feels like something that their Bizarro versions would do, not Jerry, George and Elaine.

Why It’s Real and Spectacular: While this isn’t Newman’s first appearance in the series, it’s a great introduction to him as we learn about who he is and witness the physical comedy and banter between him and Kramer.

Season 5: ‘The Glasses’

Why It’s Not Master of Its Domain: The later seasons of Seinfeld are known for their absurd storylines, but for Season Five, this episode was considered a bit too wacky. George thinks he sees Jerry’s girlfriend kissing his cousin, who has a “horse face,” but later discovers he actually saw a policewoman petting her horse. It’s a funny concept, but it seemed a little ridiculous when it first aired.

Why It’s Real and Spectacular: “The Glasses” has some of the best zingers in the series. When George accidentally buys and wears women’s glasses, Jerry makes fun of him by saying, “I don’t know what to tell ya, Elton,” and when George is snacking on a bag of pretzels, Kramer asks him, “May I have one of those, madam?”

Season 6: ‘The Soup’

Why It’s Not Master of Its Domain: Kramer’s storyline falls flat. He’s dating a waitress from Reggie’s who becomes unstable when she’s hungry, which is a problem for Kramer since he no longer has a refrigerator and is only eating fresh food. Things come to a head when Kramer is forced to go back and forth to Jerry’s apartment to feed her until Jerry eventually runs out of food. It almost feels like a lot of Kramer’s story was cut because there’s no big payoff, and the episode focuses on the other three characters a lot more than Kramer. 

Why It’s Real and Spectacular: Kenny Bania is introduced when he gives Jerry a suit and, in return, asks Jerry to buy him a meal. Bania’s tireless excuses as to why Jerry has not fulfilled his obligation (i.e., “soup’s not a meal”) bring his annoying character to life and set the stage for one of the best recurring characters in the series.

Season 7: ‘The Shower Head’

Why It’s Not Master of Its Domain: The presence of so many guest stars in this episode shifts the spotlight from the main characters. Frank and Estelle Costanza, Morty and Helen Seinfeld, Uncle Leo, J. Peterman and Newman all have large roles, which overshadows the usual comedy between Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer.

Why It’s Real and Spectacular: Yes, there are a lot of guest stars, but their roles are so perfect for the story and character relationships. The Costanzas moving to Florida “out of spite” upon learning that the Seinfelds don’t want them there is among the pettiest and funniest reasons to move and gives us insight into George. The concept of a black market for shower heads is genius. And, of course, the plot involving poppy seeds containing opium is comedic gold, too.

Season 8: ‘The Andrea Doria’

Why It’s Not Master of Its Domain: The title “The Andrea Doria” focuses on only one storyline, in which George pleads with a building association to give him an apartment by recounting the misfortunes of his life. Because of this, when perusing Seinfeld episodes by name, it’s easy to forget the other elements that make the episode so special.

Why It’s Real and Spectacular: Elaine is dating a guy who angers his girlfriends by pointing out their physical flaws. When he tells Elaine she has a big head and a bump on her nose, Elaine goes crazy. It culminates with Kramer, who is slowly turning into a dog, alerting the police about the trouble the guy she’s seeing is in. Meanwhile, Jerry is covering Newman’s mail route to ensure Newman gets a transfer to Hawaii because Kramer bit his ankle, and he can’t deliver mail. The surprising ways all these stories intertwine makes it classic Seinfeld.

Season 9: ‘The Wizard’

Why It’s Not Master of Its Domain: It’s only rated 151 out of 175 Seinfeld episodes per IMDb, so clearly, it’s not a fan favorite. Maybe George’s storyline of driving the Rosses out to his nonexistent house in the Hamptons was a bit too far-fetched for some people. 

Why It’s Real and Spectacular: Elaine being unsure about her boyfriend’s ethnicity and looking for clues throughout to determine if he’s Black or white is something that could’ve easily become cringe. But it’s handled deftly with gentle humor. Also, when Kramer is running for president of the Del Boca Vista condo complex in partnership with Morty Seinfeld, there are hidden Easter eggs in the newspapers about Larry David that make it particularly fun for diehard Seinfeld fans.

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