Seinfeld has never really left our lives. You can still find it in syndication somewhere at seemingly any hour of the day. However, now that the show is on Hulu, you are no longer subjected to the whims of network scheduling. You can watch your favorite episodes whenever the mood strikes you. However, which are the episodes to choose? Here are the 10 best to get you started.
10. The Contest
This is probably the most iconic episode of Seinfeld, and it’s also the earliest episode on this list. That owes in part to the fact the first couple of seasons are kind of spotty, in truth, although there are still plenty of good episodes before this one that aired in the middle of season four. It’s a fine episode, although perhaps not as good as its reputation indicates. People appreciate it for its “audacity” or what have you, and it has that going for it sure, plus the delightful Jane Leeves as a guest actress, but there are a handful of better episodes.
9. The Andrea Doria
Yes, Kramer takes dog medicine and acts like a dog in this episode. Yes, that is ridiculous, but everything else is delightful. This is the best Newman episode, and we get to see Newman and Jerry on the same side. Also, this episode works as a sort of greatest hits for George as well. Not only do we hear about the trial and tribulations of his life, we hear them because he’s trying to keep a shipwreck survivor out of an apartment.
8. The Wait Out
Kramer wearing too tight jeans is slightly funny, but it’s the main action of this episode that is so wonderful, and so quintessentially Seinfeld. Jerry and Elaine have been waiting out a relationship, and when fissures in that relationship open up, they are ready to pounce. It’s such a perfect bit of venal minutiae for this show. The fact George is the reason for the relationship troubles is just icing on the cake. The show has had few plots better, if any.
7. The Hot Tub
The introduction to J. Peterman, who would stay around, and to Jean-Paul, who would not. Also, the introduction to Kramer’s hot tub, which brought plenty of hilarity of its own. Everybody is up to good stuff in this episode. It hits the right level of silliness which, as the series went on, became a bit harder for the show. Watch it and laugh, ya bastard!
6. The Voice
Speaking of silly later period Seinfeld episodes, “The Voice” is very much that. After all, a giant ball of oil is prominently involved. However, the battle of wills between George and Play Now is one of the best things the show has ever done. Jerry’s bench rumination about whether or not to keep doing the silly voice is also funny, even if it’s pretty much the only funny thing to come from that storyline. George and Kramer’s great antics more than overcome that, though.
5. The Invitations
Susan dies from licking toxic envelopes. This is polarizing. A lot of people found it to be a bit too much, a bit too hateful. If you like it, though, it’s so boldly dark, and rather funny. George’s last desperate attempts to break off the engagement is great. Jerry falling in, and out, of love with a woman who is just like him is wonderful. “I can’t be with someone like me. I hate myself!” is perhaps Jerry’s best line. Again, some people aren’t in love with this episode. If it is on your wavelength, though, it’s fantastic.
4. The Junior Mint
By this point, the Seinfeld gang being awful is canonical, even though this apparently didn’t dawn on some people until the series finale. This is one of the earliest examples of how awful they could be. After all, Kramer and Jerry dropped a Junior Mint into a dude and debated whether or not to tell anybody. George bought art in hopes the guy would die. Of course, the guy ended up fine, and George got his comeuppance, so it wasn’t as dark as it could have been. Kramer’s defense of why he refused to believe Jerry would pass on a Junior Mint is also classic. Oh, it’s also the “Mulva” episode.
3. The Bizarro Jerry
This episode is silly in many ways. After all, Elaine finds herself in a bizarro world with its own Jerry, George, Kramer and Newman. Kramer starts working a job for no reason. Jerry dates Man Hands. George finds himself going to secret model parties. Yet, it all works. Kramer’s storyline is hilarious. The bizarro thing is out there, yes, but if you are willing to accept it, it’s hilarious and delightfully weird. The show had earned this chance through years of shrewd character development, and they made the most of the opportunity.
2. The Opposite
Everybody knows George is a loser. What this episode presupposes is, maybe he isn’t? George decides to start doing the opposite of what his instincts told him to do, and he found great success in life, including getting a job with the New York Yankees. Elaine, meanwhile, becomes the new George, including a physical transformation. Sure, it’s unsettling to see George succeed, but the way he does it is what makes this episode fantastic.
1. The Merv Griffin Show
Look, you want to take about silly episodes? “The Merv Griffin Show” may be on top of the list. It’s goofy, but sublimely goofy. Kramer taking the Merv Griffin Show set out of the garbage, turning his apartment into a recreation of the set, and turning his life into a talk show is enough. It’s the most genius thing Seinfeld ever did. Everything else is just as en pointe, though. George and the squirrels. Jerry and his girlfriend and her toys. Elaine and the sidler. No episode is funnier. No episode is better.
Chris Morgan is an Internet gadabout who writes on a variety of topics and in a variety of mediums. If he had to select one thing to promote, however, it would be his ’90s blog/podcast, Existential Parachute Pants. (You can also follow him on Twitter.)