By: Stefania Mellace
For a show that ended more than 15 years ago, Seinfeld is still surprisingly prevalent in my everyday life. Like many, I never tire of watching reruns and can probably recite many episodes line for line. In fact, I find myself making Seinfeld references so often that I wonder if anyone understands what I’m saying half of the time. When I find people who actually recognize one, I go so far as to immediately look at them in a more positive light – a situation I’ve dubbed the “Seinfeld Reference Effect”.
Last month, as I was skimming the usual ‘pets in knitted sweaters’ and ‘determine which Game of Thrones character you’re most like’ articles (I don’t care what they say, I’m totally Daenerys), an Uproxx post on Warming Glow caught my attention. In the article, entitled “A Very Important and Scientific Ranking of Jerry’s Girlfriends on Seinfeld”, the author uses key traits that men look for in women to rank 50 of Jerry’s girlfriends on the show.
Reading this article had a two-pronged effect on me. First, I started thinking that a great deal of focus is too often placed on Jerry’s girlfriends relative to Elaine’s boyfriends. Any fan knows that Jerry breaks up with one girl because she has “man hands” and another because she eats her peas one at a time, but Elaine has her own cornucopia of dating blunders that are just as shallow. Secondly, it inspired me to prepare a response to the article (perhaps it’s an homage) by ranking Elaine’s boyfriends on the show.
The one, the only, Elaine Benes.
Since I must respect the scientific process used in the original article, what follows is a thorough, scientific analysis of Elaine’s boyfriends using 1-10 scales in the same categories: personality, intelligence, looks, cleanliness, sense of humour, compassion, fidelity and overall “gaga” factor. I call this the “Sponge-worthy” scoring system.
I must point out that Jerry himself is not considered in this ranking for the simple reason that it is difficult for me to give him anything other than the top spot (due to my own personal admiration for him). Also, for the record, Jerry and Elaine don’t belong together – Seinfeld is not Friends. Yes, there are many references to their being together in the series, but I respect the fact that the writers purposely did not give the show a fairy tale ending. Other than Jerry, every boyfriend over the span of all nine seasons is considered.
With that said, I give you this very scientific ranking of the 40 best boyfriends that Elaine dates on Seinfeld.
Note: For those appearing in multiple episodes, the episode referenced is the most relevant episode with respect to Elaine.
The Men Who Didn’t Make the Cut
Fred (“The Pick”): Fred (the religious guy) can’t get over the fact that Elaine’s nipple makes an unsolicited appearance in her Christmas card photo. Before we accuse Fred of overreacting over a little “nip”, according to Jerry in “The Red Dot”, sex is considered to have taken place once the nipple makes its first appearance. In the end, we don’t get to know Fred at all so he doesn’t make the cut.
Eddie (“The Busboy”): Eddie from Seattle (the pesto of cities) meets Elaine in New York, goes back home, discovers that the Benes tattoo doesn’t wash off so easily and returns to live with her for a full week. We don’t learn much about him, other than the fact that Elaine hates his guts after only a few days. In any case, pushing Eddie to pack so that he doesn’t miss his flight is one of the funniest “Elaine” moments in the entire series, so we have to thank him for that.
Bob Grossberg (“The Friars Club”): Rob Schneider does a good job of playing Bob, Elaine’s hearing impaired co-worker. Elaine teases him in a very sexual way to see if his hearing aid is legit. Peterman overhears and, since making fun of someone’s handicap is cruel and grounds for dismissal, he orders Elaine to take Bob to the Flying Sandos Brothers magic show with her. Since Elaine leads Bob on, you can’t blame the guy for making a pass at her, but he still doesn’t make the list.
Newman (“The Soul Mate”): A modern day Cyrano De Bergerac, we learn of Newman’s unrequited love when he tells Kramer of Elaine, “For my heart has also been captured by a breathless beauty whom I fear I may never possess.” This causes me to question whether there is more to Newman than meets the eye (or less). While I agree with Newmie that, “There is but one woman meant for each of us, one perfect angel for whom we are put on this earth,” unfortunately, Elaine is not that angel.
Mr. Lippman/Adam Lippman/Rabbi Glickman (“The Serenity Now”): These three Jewish men are attracted to Elaine because of her “shiksappeal”. Like son like father, Mr. Lippman lunges at Elaine and renounces Judaism to prove that he doesn’t just like her because she’s a “shiksa”. Even Rabbi Glickman hits on her when she seeks his advice for combating the shiksappeal (much like Kramer seeks the Latvian Orthodox priest’s advice for combating the kavorka). In the end, Elaine doesn’t date any of these guys, so they are excluded from the list.
Ricky (“The Cigar Store Indian”): Ricky is probably the most obsessed of all of Elaine’s admirers. He creates a bouquet for her using Frank Costanza’s TV Guide and we later discover that he is the mastermind behind the “Elaine” mannequins. He and her other quasi-stalkers, like the stationary store clerk, don’t count.
Kramer (“The Watch”): Elaine asks Kramer to pretend to be her boyfriend because she is having difficulty breaking up with Dr. Reston. As it happens, the relationship that Kramer fabricates is one of Elaine’s most decent – he states that they are in love and that they have sex five times a week. Of course, the other pretend boyfriends like Eduardo Corrochio, the matador whom she pretends to meet, or even J. Peterman who asks Elaine to “toss yourself into the mix” when she is ghost-writing his book, aren’t on the list.
The Top 40 Boyfriends
40) (Crazy) Joe Davola (“The Opera”): Crazy Joe Davola is the epitome of Elaine’s flawed judgement when it comes to men. Initially, she describes him as happy, well-adjusted and as someone who has a grip on reality. It’s only when she surprises him with a pop-in that she sees his shrine to her and realizes he’s completely crazy. Other than his being intelligent, he gets low scores in all categories. For this reason, and because of his hatred of Jerry, this tragic clown is last on the list.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 3.13
39) Simon (“The Soup”): Simon is the Brit whom Elaine flies in from England using her frequent flyer miles after meeting him on a trip. Not only does he have no money and no prospects, he is condescending and picks up another woman right in front of her. Simon gets rock bottom scores in the personality, fidelity and compassion categories. This guy is nothing but a bounder and no woman wants that.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 3.23
38) Dick (“The Red Dot”): Next to Crazy Joe Davola, Dick is the scariest of Elaine’s boyfriends – so scary that his coming after Elaine, Jerry and George at the end of “The Red Dot” episode is modelled after a scene from Cape Fear. One of Elaine’s many office flings, Dick is also an alcoholic who keeps falling off and getting back on the wagon. But, more importantly, he is rude to Jerry and even heckles him, which means he scores a big fat zero in the sense of humour category (Jerry is hilarious). He gets points for becoming sober by the end of the episode, otherwise he’d be at the bottom of the list beside Davola.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 3.54
37) Glenn (“The Strongbox”): Glenn’s appeal is that he’s attractive, witty and mysterious – so mysterious that Elaine thinks he’s an adulterer (and Jerry thinks he’s the Green Lantern). Instead, it turns out he’s the ‘Got-No-Green’ Lantern because he is poor. When Elaine learns of Glenn’s poverty, she actually shows her nurturing “sugar momma” side by sticking with him and buying him furniture and appliances. In the end, she isn’t Glenn’s one and only “bear claw in the garbage bag of life” because she finds out that he is both poor and married. Glenn gets zero points for fidelity and the adultery drops all of his scores by several points.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 3.74
36) Owen March (“The Alternate Side”): Elaine is in awe of this sixty-six year-old author’s intellect, so he definitely scores well in the intelligence category. While we see Elaine’s compassionate side with Glenn, we see the opposite when she chooses to break up with an infirm Owen while feeding him yankee beans. One of her break-up excuses is that it’s a bitch to get to his place. Now, before we start casting any stones, I’m sure that many of us have been in a situation where convenience has at least been taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to be with someone. In the end, we don’t feel too bad for Owen because he is just using her for sex, which gives me the impression that Owen is a George Clooney/eternal bachelor type. While many women find Clooney attractive (and many men find his lifestyle attractive), I’m more prone to the Demi Moore lifestyle, myself.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 3.94
35) Vincent (“The Comeback”): Speaking of Demi Moore, Elaine carries out a blind relationship with fifteen year-old Vincent after selecting movies from his video store “picks”. She thinks he’s strange, beautiful and sensitive until his mom catches her bringing vodka, cigarettes and fireworks to his home. Obviously, this age gap is huge (and illegal), so I can’t score him well here. As an aside, based on how many younger guys like Elaine, I think she makes a pretty great cougar.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 4.22
34) Craig (“The Wig Master”): The biggest problem with Craig, other than his ponytail, is that he and Elaine don’t trust each other. Elaine thinks Craig is using his ability to get a discount on a Nicole Miller dress to sleep with her and Craig thinks Elaine is using him for the discount. Due to the lack of trust – and the ponytail – Craig doesn’t score well in the personality and looks categories, respectively. Only when there is a decent amount of trust in a relationship can there be a free exchange of sex and discounts.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 4.34
33) Zach (“The Bookstore”): To be fair, Zach is technically one of Elaine’s pretend boyfriends. After her co-workers catch her making out with him at a staff party, she tells them that Zach is her boyfriend so they’ll interpret the make-out session as a beautiful moment between two lovers instead of a “spirited bout of Skanko-Roman wrestling”. He doesn’t score high in the fidelity category however, because shortly after the incident he “nibbles on a love newton” in the break room with another co-worker. While one may argue that it’s a tad extreme to crumple up a woman’s phone number because she has a new, unpopular area code, that level of pickiness is better than no pickiness at all. Women want to feel like they are a man’s one and only, even in pretend boyfriend situations. Either way, as the office man-whore who is addicted to smack/white palace/Chinaman’s nightcap, Zach’s sponge-worthy score takes a hit.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 4.44
32) Alan Mercer (“The Andrea Doria”): Alan stands Elaine up on their blind date (or “set-up”, as the visually impaired don’t want to be associated with all those losers) because he is stabbed by an ex-girlfriend. She learns that it’s because he is a bad breaker-upper. Yes, turns out he says the mean things that people say but don’t mean while breaking up with someone, but he means them. Alan scores poorly in the personality and compassion categories, as no one wants to hear that they have a big head, a bump on their nose or no chin – they should feel good around their significant other. Despite his stab-worthy score, Alan gets a low sponge-worthy score.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 4.65
31) Todd Gack (“The Calzone”): Todd scores a date with Elaine by betting her that Dustin Hoffman is in Star Wars, which is actually a pretty good move. Jerry points out that this is a dating loophole – by not asking Elaine out directly, Todd can’t get rejected. Todd likes to send mixed signals – one of the worst kinds of daters in the dating world. When Elaine goes out to dinner with him and he brings his parents, he makes sure to point out that it’s not a date. He even walks her home and kisses her, all while not labelling anything. If a man/woman sends mixed signals and leaves the other person having no idea where they stand, 99% of the time it means that they aren’t “gaga”. Todd gets low scores in the personality, compassion and fidelity categories. Oh well, maybe he fares better on Nikki’s list.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 4.77
30) Fred Yerkes (“The Secret Code”): It’s disheartening (and a bit insulting) when someone whom you’ve clearly met before says, “Nice to meet you.” Elaine becomes infatuated with Fred because he doesn’t remember meeting her at a party, despite their party conversation involving Elaine’s uncle and Lee Harvey Oswald on the day of Kennedy assassination. I’m sure “The Game” by Neil Strauss is littered with pick-up techniques that involve not showing women attention, but normal, mentally-healthy women don’t like this. Fred doesn’t score well in the personality, looks, and “gaga” categories, and it doesn’t take Elaine long to realize that her initial attraction is just the result of a temporary psychological glitch.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 4.89
29) Phil Totola (“The Stand In”): He took it out.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 5.00
28) Brett (“The Checks”): Brett has a weird obsession with Karl Farbman, a furniture designer, and the song “Desperado”. Elaine thinks he’s generous and sensitive because he is moved by listening to the song, but when she tries to share “Witchy Woman” (or Witch-ay Woman) with him, he won’t share. What bothers me most about Brett is that he is condescending to Jerry (for which he gets a major points deduction). I find it strange that so many of Elaine’s boyfriends are rude to Jerry, while only one of Jerry’s girlfriends ever disrespects Elaine (Nina from “The Letter” is rude to Elaine, but there is a clear motive behind it – she is jealous). Friends are an important part of a person’s life and they should be respected by significant others – anything less is a huge red flag. If Jerry hadn’t accidentally hit Brett with an axe, I would have suggested that Elaine run away from Brett as if he were the “Boogityman”.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 5.45
27) Darryl Nelson (“The Wizard”): Darryl and Elaine believe that they are in an interracial relationship with one another. Elaine can’t figure out if Darryl is white or black and Darryl thinks Elaine is Hispanic. Wait, should we be talking about this? Clearly, there is a communication issue here, as both aren’t comfortable asking the other about their race. Darryl scores well in most categories, except the “gaga” category. When he and Elaine find out that they are just a couple of white people, they realize that there is nothing special about the relationship. Either way, I really don’t think we’re supposed to be talking about this.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 5.76
26) Peter (Pinter) Ranawat (“The Betrayal”): We don’t know much about Peter, other than that he is about to marry Sue Ellen Mischke (the braless wonder/the O’Henry candy bar heiress) before Elaine tells everyone at the ceremony that she slept with him. Elaine describes sex with Peter as mechanical. Sex is an important part of a relationship (anyone who says otherwise is lying) and Elaine is no stranger to mediocre sex. In “The Yada Yada” she describes going out to dinner with a lawyer, eating lobster bisque, and then “yada yada”-ing the sex because it isn’t the best part of her story. It seems like Elaine would “yada yada” the sex in her story about Peter too, so he falls just shy of the top 25.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 5.86
25) Roy (“The Junior Mint”): Elaine breaks up with Roy (the artist/triangle guy) because he is too fat. Roy is kind and sensitive and loses weight because he can’t eat for weeks after Elaine stops seeing him. On one hand, Elaine is being superficial in wanting him again after he loses the weight, but on the other, mutual attraction is necessary for a happy relationship. While some say that the way a person treats waiters says a lot about their potential as a partner, it’s equally important to pay attention to how they treat themselves (at an absolute minimum, their toilet paper should be 2-ply). Roy loses points in the looks and “gaga” categories, which means this fat, starving artist is at number 25 on the list.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 5.96
24) Jack (“The Junk Mail”): Elaine has a “totally unreal, fairy tale moment” (complete with heraldic harp music) when she first locks eyes with Jack. At first, she tries to juggle Jack and Puddy at the same time. This doesn’t work out and eventually she gets stuck with the Wiz. Jack scores well in the “gaga” category, due to Elaine’s love at first sight, even though she’s only really attracted to him because she’s remembering that old commercial. Then again, Jack loses points because his job lacks a certain type of quiet dignity. Still, he’s the Wiz and nobody beats him, except maybe the Maytag repairman (and the following 23 guys).
Sponge-Worthy Score: 6.06
23) Lloyd Braun (“The Non-Fat Yogurt”): When Elaine first meets Lloyd, he has a great job advising Mayor Dinkins on everything he does (even on which soap to use), and Elaine finds him attractive. He costs Dinkins the election because he recommends Elaine’s name tag idea to him (small town NYC) and Dinkins goes for it. While encouragement from a significant other is necessary, when it comes to bad ideas, honesty is even more important. In Elaine’s defence, her idea is still better than anything currently coming out of Rob Ford’s brain (and mouth). Lloyd loses points in the intelligence and “gaga” categories, and since we find out later that Lloyd goes crazy (they may or may not have found a family in his freezer), he is only 23 on this list.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 6.36
22) Jimmy (“The Jimmy”): Jimmy is pretty sweet on Elaine. Jimmy watches her at the gym and she is just Jimmy’s type. Jimmy is new in town and doesn’t really know anyone, so Jimmy wants to get to know Elaine. Jimmy wants to put the moves on Elaine. Jimmy likes Elaine’s new dress. Jimmy’s very unusual, so Jimmy gets sidelined (again) and doesn’t make the top 20. Jimmy’s down!
Sponge-Worthy Score: 6.57
21) Jake Jarmel (“The Opposite”): Jake seems like a good match for Elaine – he is a writer and she calls him a perfect man when he goes out of his way to clean her whole apartment and make dinner for her. The problem with Jake is that he’s pretty uptight. First, they fight because he doesn’t use an exclamation point when taking down her messages! Then, when they are getting serious and are talking about moving in together, he dumps Elaine because she stops for a box of Jujyfruit after learning that he’s been in an accident (a girl’s gotta eat). While I have yet to hear of a relationship ending specifically because of punctuation, I have to admit that it’s hard not to be turned off by someone who uses incorrect variations of “there” and “your”. Jake scores high points in intelligence, but low points in sense of humour and personality. Uptight or not, his initial move to randomly feel Elaine’s jacket material (“Gabardine?”) automatically keeps him out of the top 20.
Sponge-Worthy Score: 6.67
And so the Sponge-Worthy rankings continue. Check back on the Same Page next Friday for Elaine’s boyfriends ranked #20 to #1.