NBC’s “Seinfeld” did far more than introduce “yada, yada yada” into the lexicon.
The show featured the kind of funny bits that might make Social Justice Warriors’ heads explode. Yes, the bulk of the long-running series was pure comedy gold, the kind that few could find offensive. Who hasn’t dreaded the “drop in” or wasting an entire night waiting for a restaurant table to open?
Other bits have proven more subversive over time.
Consider the following five comic sequences from the now-legendary show. They didn’t seem button-pushing at the time. But who could have predicted a generation of easily offended snowflakes would deconstruct every joke a decade or so later?
It’s especially rich given Jerry Seinfeld’s later attack on our PC culture.
1. Master of Your Domain
The notion of the three main characters abstaining from self-love might rub some SJWs the wrong way. Why not Elaine? Was this simply old-school mansplaining?
Making matters worse? How Kramer ends his time in the contest. He ogles a naked woman from across the street and is soon “out.”
2. Belly Button Shaming
Jerry decides to make fun of his new squeeze who just so happens to have a stomach that makes noise while she sleeps. The cutup makes up a voice for her loud belly button, but she breaks up with him when she catches him mocking her.
Now, it’s never kind to make fun at someone else’s expense. And it’s even worse for women since their tummies aren’t always rock hard in the first place. Plus, what if the woman in question has had a baby? Mothers are particularly sensitive regarding that part of the body following childbirth. A sophisticated man like Jerry should know better.
3. Shrinkage 101
It’s one of the show’s most iconic moments. And perhaps its the most wince-inducing.
And yet the story of how George’s dip in the water had embarrassing consequences is the kind of joke that might get you in trouble today. We’re back in the body-shaming arena, but this time it’s about the man’s sense of … worth.
4. The Vagina Monologues
Remember when Jerry couldn’t remember the name of the girl he’s dating? That kind of goofy subplot worked beautifully in the ’90s. Today, it would fall on deaf ears and possibly spark a surly Twitter campaign.
Do all women look alike to Jerry? How utterly sexist! And to make matters worse, the woman’s name rhymes with a part of the female anatomy. That’s a double SJW whammy.
5. Conversion Therapy
Elaine dates a gay man to serve as his cultural “beard.” She starts to like the fellow, so she wonders whether she can make him “switch teams.”
It works … but only for a moment.
It’s another silly subplot in a show teeming with them. Imagine what the gay movement might make of the storyline now. The mere notion that being gay can be turned on or off might cause offense. Then again, it could be perceived as a statement toward gender fluidity.
Either way, it’s no laughing matter!
HONORABLE MENTION: One “Seinfeld” episode got in trouble long before our current PC age. The show in question featured Kramer stamping on a Puerto Rican flag after accidentally setting it on fire. Latino groups pounced, calling the sequence offensive. NBC yanked it from the air, but the show eventually returned to the “Seinfeld” rerun lineup.