Recap / Seinfeld S 1 E 4 Male Unbonding

On their way to Jerry’s apartment, he and George have a discussion about an incident where George accidentally got a piece of floss stuck to his thumb during a date with his girlfriend, which makes him afraid that she’ll leave him.

Arriving at his place, Jerry receives a phone call from Joel Hornieck, a childhood friend who keeps pestering him even though Jerry has long since lost any interest in their relationship. Reluctantly agreeing to meet him for lunch on Wednesday, Jerry decides at the behest of George to finally “break up” with him.

The proposed break-up doesn’t go so well, however. When Jerry tries to end their relationship in the most polite way he can, Joel breaks down in a histrionic bout of crying over his “best friend” abandoning him. Embarrassed, Jerry takes back what he said and offers to take him to the Knicks game the following Wednesday as a peace offering, even though he was supposed to take George. Later at the bank, he is forced to admit to George that he gave his ticket to Joel, which puts a real damper on George’s day as his girlfriend broke up with him recently and the bank refuses to convert his collection of spare change into bills unless he manually rolls up the six thousand coins himself first.

Later, Jerry decides to make it up to George by not going to the game either, calling Joel and claiming to be busy, telling him to take both tickets and go out with someone else. Feeling that he’s running out of excuses for not seeing Joel, Jerry writes down a list of them. When Elaine sees them the following Wednesday night, she tell Jerry to man up and finally call it quits with Joel, but Jerry declares that he would rather lie to him for the rest of his life than go through one of his emotional breakdowns again. Just then, Kramer enters the apartment with Joel, having just gone to the Knicks game with him after Joel was impressed by one of his ideas for a new business (a pizza place where customers get to make their own pie). Joel has had a great time with Kramer, and decides to pay Jerry back by taking him and Elaine to a ball game the following week. Jerry tries to come up with more excuses at first, but when Joel pulls out a newspaper listing all the upcoming games they’ll have an opportunity to go to, Jerry resigns himself to the fact that some “friends” you just can’t get rid of (fortunately for him though, Joel doesn't appear for the rest of the series).

This episode demonstrates the following examples:

  • Character Development: A minor one for Kramer; by this point in the series he was supposed to be an agoraphobic who never left the building, but here he goes out to a ball game with Joel.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The interior of Jerry's apartment building is more or less completely different (not to mention how Jerry's apartment is on the fourth floor - as opposed to the fifth - in this one) than how it'll appear later on in the series.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Joel is annoying, self-absorbed and rude, but he's obviously a very lonely and pathetic person who doesn't have anyone but Jerry to hang around with.
  • Odd Name Out: This is the only episode in the series that doesn't start with "the". The writers eventually decided to name all the episode according to that formula, as they wanted to spend their time coming up with funny episode concepts rather than funny episode titles.
    • Some online guides call this episode "The Male Unbonding".