George confesses to jerking off at his parent's home to his friends in Monk's Cafe as his mother had caught him, as she is now hospitalized from falling over in shock as he describes. They then make a bet on who can go the longest without doing "that". Upon all finger-swearing, what follows thus is one of the most memorable Seinfeld, nay TV episodes, of all time.
Airing on November 18, 1992, this was the fifty-first episode of the NBC sitcom series. On its original airing, the episode was seen by 18.5 million viewers. This would be the episode that would really and truly help launch Seinfeld into the ratings of immortality that soon followed. The first repeat airing was seen by ten million more people than the original airing, which is pretty much unheard of today, having to make it the most popular rerun of all time. Written by the co-founder of the show Larry David, he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Comedy Series and also won a Writers Guild of America award as well for his work on the episode for without once penning the word "masturbation" into the script. Jerry Seinfeld thought that, even if they had used the word "masturation," censors would've allowed it (the word has been used once before on the series), but part of the reason the episode was so funny is because the word is never used. The only note the censors gave the show was not to use the word "Snapple" as a euphemism. Weird, really. The subject is described, however, in innocuous euphemisms, while the meaning of the subject is still made clear to the audience. One of the euphemisms used in the episode is "master of my domain", said by Jerry while still in the contest. It has become a catchphrase in popular culture, although it is not always used in reference to..."that". Other double entendres include "Lord of my Manor" and "Queen of my Castle", as Elaine puts it. Director of the episode, Tom Cherones, won a Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series for this episode and was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing. Jonathan Boudreaux for tvdvdreviews.com said, "'The Contest' effortlessly takes a potentially incendiary subject and renders it utterly inoffensive yet hilarious." He also said that it was "one of the series' most infamous" episodes. And Donna Dorsett from audaud.com commented on the refusal to use the word "masturbation," saying, "If the word had been used, even once, the show would not have been nearly as hilarious. The episode was totally inoffensive." Perhaps yes to some, unless of course to those that enjoy this type of humor.
Being cited as the best Seinfeld episode, it also carries its share of fun facts, or as I like to call them Seinfacts: The American stand- up comedian Kenny Kramer, the inspiration for the actual Kramer on the show, claimed that there actually was a "Contest" in which David and some friends took part. Although he did not want to initially partake in the event because he thought he could not win it, it was David who won it in the end. Jerry, to avoid sexual temptations in this episode, forces himself to watch Tiny Toons on his TV while averting his gaze from the "I'm out!" Kramer in joining him to watch the nude woman across the street, singing "The Wheels on the Bus" to himself, staring intently at his screen. Seinfeld claimed that he had never heard of the song before recording the episode. The original screenplay featured Jerry watching Flipper, but was changed due to concerns over music rights. The naked female across the street nor Kennedy, Jr. also never appear in this episode. Although it is implied George won in The Puffy Shirt episode, it was in The Finale as the plane is going down where George, imminent of his certain demise, confesses to Jerry that he cheated, therefore making Jerry the true winner. When asked why, George simply replies, "Because I'm a cheater!"
Twenty-one plus years later, 'The Contest' continues to air every now and then and still grasps its bouts of hilarity. And because the 'm' word is never mentioned, it makes it all the more so, ever so slightly evading the boundaries of just flat out saying it and how close one not saying it makes this episode all the more genius and timeless as well and also because it had not been done for TV before either. I have to give it to this one in particular for its script and original ingenuity about four friends in the Big Apple who truly have far too much time on their hands for mindless feats such as this. But what else does one expect from a show about nothing? 'The Boyfriend', (S3E17/18) which was placed at number four from the original 1997 list of TV Guides 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time, I felt was funnier in my opinion than this one with a panicky George, his faux latex company under the dumb alias Vandelay Industries, a hilarious magic loogie explanation with clips of mock Zapruder stock inter-spliced, and, of course, Keith Hernandez acting as himself amidst a handful of quirks. I also appreciated that that episode leaned more on the aspect of using comical situations and timing rather than relying on one sexual innuendo spoken in many different forms but all meaning an unsaid word as a comical crutch, while Seinfeld himself actually said that 'The Boyfriend' was his favorite episode overall. Though I personally do not agree with 'The Contest' for the number one spot on the revised list, all I can say is kudos to David, Cherones and the cast for pulling off an ambitious tube classic which never once uttered, nor ever needed to say..."that" because, let's face it, we all knew what they meant.
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