Thursday, June 6, 2013

Episode 8 - The Jacket

The Plot:  The episode begins with Jerry & Elaine at a clothing store looking for clothes for Jerry.  He finds a suede jacket that he says is the most perfect feeling and fitting jacket he’s ever tried on.  The only drawback is that there is a gaudy pink striped lining on the inside of the coat.  Despite the lining and a ridiculously high price tag, Jerry decides to buy the jacket.  As they are checking out, Elaine reminds Jerry that he and George are having dinner with her and her father on Saturday night.

Elaine’s father, Alton Benes, is an extremely intimidating character.  On Saturday, George and Jerry (wearing his new suede jacket) arrive to meet Mr. Benes, only to find out that Elaine is running late.  As they try to make small talk with her father, every comment is met with condescension from Mr. Benes.  He derides Jerry’s career as a comedian, George’s compliment of his writing and the weather.  As George and Jerry contemplate making a break for it and leaving the bar, George chickens out for fear that they will get caught and Alton will bang their heads together like Moe from the Three Stooges.

When Elaine finally shows up, they start to leave the bar to walk the five blocks to the restaurant, it starts to snow.  Jerry, concerned about what the snow will do to his new coat, turns it inside out with the pink lining showing.  Elaine’s father throws a fit and refuses to be seen walking down the street with Jerry wearing his jacket that way.  The scene ends with Jerry turning the coat right side out and heading out into the snow.  The next scene shows Jerry in his apartment and his ruined suede coat hanging on the wall.


Fun Facts: 
  • This is the first (and only) appearance of Alton Benes, played by Laurence Tierney (nice last name).
  • Again, based on a real life incident, where Larry David met his girfriend’s father, the well respected author Richard Yates who scared the hell out of him.
  • While we never see Elaine’s mother, supposedly the role was offered to Mary Tyler Moore before the idea of introducing her mom was scrapped.

Favorite Quote: 
Elaine: No, Jerry, you have to come to dinner. I need a buffer. You know, I haven't seen my father in a while and.. you know.
Jerry:  I'm worried I won't be able to talk to him. He's such a great writer. Frankly, I prefer the company of nitwits.
Elaine: So, that's why we're not together anymore.

Favorite Scene:   When George comes to Jerry’s apartment on their way to dinner, he comments on how much he likes the new jacket.  George: “Can I say one thing to you? And I say this with an unblemished record of staunch heterosexuality…It’s fabulous”.  George then launches into frenzied questioning of how much the jacket cost, working himself into a tizzy because Jerry won’t tell him what he spent.

The Lesson:  Jerry loves his new jacket.  He loves it so much, he tells George, “This jacket has completely changed my life. When I leave the house in this, it's with a whole different confidence. Like tonight, I might've been a little nervous. But, inside this jacket, I am composed, grounded, secure that I can meet any social challenge.”  He then precedes to wilt under the pressure of Alton Benes’ personality, and all that new found confidence is shattered.  The jacket didn’t change Jerry physically, it just gave him false confidence.  Entrepreneurs often face the same dilemma.  Having someone you respect say something nice about your company, interest from a potential investor or a favorable mention in the media, can all create a false sense of optimism and progress.  Yes, all of those developments are nice and are indicators that you may be on the right track, but none of them are actually moving your business forward.  I am always amazed at the number of incredibly bright people who mistake movement for progress.  Running from one meeting or conference to the next and having people pat you on the head and tell you what a great business you have, is not progress.  It does not generate revenue or land customers or produce product.  The lesson for entrepreneurs is not to let cosmetics give you a false sense of accomplishment.  Hard work, attention to detail and solid customer service produces results.  And results are what should breed confidence and success.

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