Recap / Seinfeld S 5 E 22 The Opposite

Elaine gets a raise at Pendant Publishing, which is merging with a Japanese conglomerate to avoid bankruptcy, and is publishing Kramer's coffee table book. She has also reunited with her boyfriend Jake Jarmel. (It is never revealed how they got over their exclamation point dispute.) George returns from the beach and decides that every decision that he has ever made has been wrong, and that his life is the exact opposite of what it should be. George tells this to Jerry in Monk's Cafe, who convinces him that “if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right”. George then resolves to start doing the complete opposite of what he would do normally. He orders the opposite of his normal lunch, and he introduces himself to a beautiful woman (played by Dedee Pfeiffer) who happens to order exactly the same lunch, saying, "My name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents." To his surprise, she is impressed and agrees to date him.

Jerry loses a stand-up gig and five minutes later is asked to perform another one on the same night, for the same pay, prompting Kramer to call him "Even Steven". This causes Jerry to start noticing how everything always ends up turning out exactly the same for him as originally planned, never losing or gaining. George continues to do the Opposite on his date with Victoria. He stops shaving, yells at noisy cinema patrons, and refuses to come up to her apartment. Meanwhile, Elaine, upon hearing that Jake has been in an accident, quickly buys some Jujyfruits from the concession stand before heading to the hospital. Jake takes extreme exception to her lack of consideration and breaks up with Elaine on the spot because of it.

The next day, Kramer appears on Regis and Kathie Lee to promote his book. After kissing Kathie Lee on the mouth, he accidentally burns his mouth on the hot coffee and spits it all over Kathie Lee. This leads to a premature cancellation of his book tour. Thanks to his date, George gets an interview at the New York Yankees, where he also does the opposite of his instincts and criticizes George Steinbrenner (voiced by Larry David) about his management practices, thus landing him the job of Assistant to the Traveling Secretary. He moves out of his parents' house, making sure to tell them how much he loves them, again, an example of "opposite" behavior.

Elaine finds out that she is being kicked out of her apartment building. The list of grievances includes putting Canadian quarters into the washing machine and buzzing a jewel thief and a group of Jehovah's Witnesses past security, after which "[they] couldn't get them out of the building." Later, when her boss (Mr. Lippman) forgets his handkerchief in her office, Elaine (her mouth full of Jujyfruits) cannot tell him to take it. Later, when he sneezes without his handkerchief, he will not shake hands with his Japanese counterpart (and spread germs); the Japanese executive takes this as a sign of disrespect and becomes angry, refusing to close the deal, thus putting an end to Pendant Publishing, and along with it, Kramer's book. By the end of the episode, Elaine claims that she has "become George," but Jerry can only marvel at how things always even out for him: first, Elaine was up and George was down; now, George is up and Elaine is down, but his life is exactly the same.

This episode features examples of the following tropes:

  • Badass Boast: George's rant to the noisy patrons in the movie theater.
    "If I have to tell you again, we're gonna take it outside and I'm gonna show you what it's like!"
  • Call-Back: George mentioned doing the opposite of his instincts in the pilot, but also mentions he never actually tried it.
  • Comical Overreacting: The Japanese executive becomes extremely offended when he believes that Lippman accused him of having germs, to the point that he calls off the merger.
  • Hourglass Plot: How things change between George and Elaine: George was unemployed, living with his parents, and had no girlfriend while Elaine was on the verge of a successful career and dating a man she was planning to move in with. Throughout the episode, George's situation improved, gaining a girlfriend, his dream job, and moving out of his parents' house, while Elaine's situation fell apart, losing her boyfriend, her apartment, and her job. At the end of the episode, Elaine declares she has 'become George'.
  • Noodle Incident: Among the infractions Elaine committed to get evicted, she once let a jewel thief and a group of Jehovah's Witnesses into her apartment building.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The status quo is massively shaken up by George getting a steady job and Pendant Publishing going under.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In this case, a business. When Mr. Lippman sneezes and is forced to wipe his nose on his hand (having forgotten his handkerchief), he couldn't shake his Japanese counterpart's hand because of the germs. However, the executive took it as to believe that Lippman accused him of having germs and overreacts to the point that he calls off the merger.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: George gives one to Steinbrenner. The response: "Hire this man!"
  • Shout-Out: George's aforementioned movie theater rant is a reference to an infamous tape recording of Buddy Rich chewing out his band mates.
  • Skewed Priorities: Jake gets extremely offended that Elaine decided to stop for candy on her way to the hospital after hearing about his accident, so much so that he breaks up with her instantly.