Analysis: “Seinfeld” is in an Asylum – Part 2

There are numerous other clues. Jerry, Kramer, and George all have alternate personalities they take on, like George’s Art Vandalay, mirroring and further fracturing Jerry’s own mind. Kramer remains first nameless for a few seasons, reflecting Jerry’s own ill-definition of what it means to be untethered. Numerous plotlines come together at the end of episodes as if some omniscient force (read: Jerry’s mind) is overseeing things and wants to tidy up the story. Jerry pictures his father as two different people. The world he has built for himself allows him to date numerous beautiful women and then discard them like they are nothing without consequence. Jerry even gives himself an easily defeated nemesis in Newman. If Newman does not get his comeuppance from Jerry himself, often “fate” does the job.

View the landmark episode “The Contest” not as one centered on self-pleasure, but on Jerry’s fight with reality and his fantasy world. Think about what happens if Jerry “wins:” he can reenter the real world. He wins against the rules he himself set forth, both in the episode in regards to the contest, and the world he created. Of course the first person out would be Kramer, he is the one most unrealistic in the “reality” of the show. He would be the easiest to dismiss on the way back to reality. In the series finale, we learn that George won, but he cheated. Jerry’s own neurosis self sabotaged Jerry’s quest to become sane.

As the seasons (and Jerry’s own illness) progress, the plots become more ridiculous. Jerry is slowly becoming more insane, leading to episodes that unfurl backwards, contain sequences that are eerily similar to the movie JFK (which crazy Jerry must have seen before entering the mental institute), and so on. Characters associated with George (Jerry’s neurosis) either enter or have just returned from a mental hospital over the course of the series: George’s girlfriend admits herself after a George gaffe and George’s old neighbor has just returned from one. It is not surprising that the character associated with Jerry’s neurosis, what drove him crazy, is associated with those characters. Even George himself gets carted off when George Steinbrenner is worried about him. Yet, we hear nothing more about that after the episode. Once again, Jerry’s mind smoothes out or dismisses anything that would force him to think about his situation.

The series is Jerry’s mind rum amok. These characters face little to no long term consequence. That is, until the end. The series finale had Jerry locked up with his imaginary friends. Jerry can no longer run away from them and must face them. And what does George say? Why, he makes a joke referencing Jerry’s top button. This joke echoes a line from an early episode. But what is more important is that Jerry is confronting the incident that drove him made: his bad comedy. This is furthermore emphasized when we see Jerry performing in jail to a silent (and dangerous crowd). Now, crazed Jerry has constructed a situation where he must face his fear and overcome it. Hopefully, Jerry conquers his own demons and comes out on the other side all the more funny.


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