Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Episode 15 - The Baby Shower

The Plot:  One of the darker episodes in show history.  Elaine holds a baby shower for her friend Leslie at Jerry's apartment, while he is performing in Buffalo. George is excited, as he expects the baby shower to be the perfect opportunity to confront the woman who gave him the worst date of his life by pouring Bosco chocolate sauce on his red-collared shirt while doing performance art. Jerry is frustrated by his television's bad reception, and is convinced by Kramer to have cable illegally installed by two Russians.

As Jerry is sleeping on the plane he dreams of returning to his apartment only to find several FBI agents there interrogating Kramer who told them about the illegal cable, it shows that the Russian was an FBI undercover agent. Jerry tries to flee only to be gunned down by the agents.

Waking up from the dream, Jerry discovers that his comedy show has been canceled due to bad weather, and he convinces George to come pick him up at the airport. Jerry informs George they cannot go back to his apartment because of the baby shower, but discovers that George is wearing the red shirt and wants to encounter Leslie at the shower.

Kramer and the two Russians crash the shower to install cable television. The party is ruined when the two Russians eat all the food and get into a fight. When George and Jerry arrive, George's plan proves unsuccessful, as he cannot muster the courage necessary to yell at Leslie. When a woman confronts Jerry because he never called her back after a date, the good mood of the shower is completely ruined and the guests leave. Jerry changes his mind about the cable hook-up, but is still charged with a large amount of money. When he refuses to pay, the Russians break his television set.

Fun Facts:
  • The first episode in which Elaine hints at her interest in the Kennedy family.  Another recurring theme throughout the show’s history.
  • The broken television at the end of the episode is just a sticker of a cracked TV screen, placed over the television that was used throughout the history of the show.
  • The first reference to “Bosco”, the chocolate syrup, that plays a role in multiple episodes in the future.

Favorite Quote:   

Kramer trying to convince Jerry to hookup illegal cable television:

Kramer:  I'm offering you 56 channels. Movies, sports, nudity, and it's free for life!.

Favorite Scene:   The opening scene when George, Elaine and Jerry are discussing the impending baby shower.  Classic Seinfeld just missing the basic point of the whole event.

Jerry: What's her husband's name, again? Chip? Kip? Skip?
Elaine: Todd.
Jerry: Todd. Oh yeah. (To George) He's a Kennedy.
Elaine: No, he's not.
Jerry: C'mon. He's a third cousin, or something.
Elaine: By marriage.
Jerry: Oh, by marriage. (To George) We went to their wedding. You should have heard him talking about Chappaquiddick - trying to blame the whole thing on bad directions.

The Lesson:  A little bit of an odd episode.  As I mentioned earlier, it is one of the darkest Seinfelds ever.  Even the dream sequence where Jerry is gunned down by the police is, as quoted by Larry David, a little Tarantino-esque, and it doesn’t get much darker than that.   The three story lines (the baby shower, George’s revenge, and the illegal cable) are all intertwined and keep appearing and disappearing throughout the show.  Yet, the only dominant theme from the episode is revenge.  George has held this pent up rage for years and is ready to unleash it upon the performance artist.  Not unexpectedly, at the critical moment, he is unable to go through with his revenge plan and ultimately ends up meekly cowtowing to her demands.

Thus, the lesson of this episode for entrepreneurs is: do things for the right reasons.  Sometimes entrepreneurs launch a company for all of the wrong reasons.  They lost a job and have nothing else to do; they are tired of working for their boss, but have no clear vision for the business; or even in rare cases, revenge.  “I will show that S.O.B. boss of mine what a mistake he made passing me over for that promotion.  I’m going to start a company that competes with my current employer and I’m going to destroy them.”

While not assuring failure, rarely does a genesis from these dark places, produce a successful result.  Startups are much more likely to be successful when they result from a positive place.  I see a problem and I have a better solution.  I like this product/service but I think I can make it better.  Letting your darker emotions dictate your business strategy will usually end up just like George, with crap on your clothing and your tail tucked between your legs as you ask for your old job back.

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