By: Nick Fernandes
Title: The Fix-Up
Episode: 16 (Episode 33 of the series)
Air Date: February 5, 1992
Written by: Larry Charles & Elaine Pope
Watch the full episode here.
What’s the Deal with this Episode?
Each week our gang of New Yorkers were put into and then got out of (well, sometimes) uncomfortable situations. Here is the episode recap of their exploits.
He is George. He is strong, fast and can bait a hook. He’s also fat, balding, and unemployed.
She is Cynthia. She has a good personality, a great body, and the kind of eyebrows women kill for. She also ‘refunds’ her meals.
And yet, both individuals are at the end of their rope.
George believes hopelessness is his only available option, and Cynthia desires a man so desperate that he appreciates just being with her. Fortunately, both of them have close friends who are there to look after their best interests. Jerry and Elaine both share the omnipotent role as matchmaker in this episode; looking to restore happiness in their friends’ lives while relishing in the potential flames this romantic arrangement can ignite. After Jerry and Elaine take turns endorsing their respective candidates, George and Cynthia’s first date is set. However, the unexpected happens: George and Cynthia have sex, sending Jerry and Elaine’s plan to enjoy ‘full disclosure’ of their matchmaking into a tailspin.
Rules, like condoms, are broken.
Jerry doesn’t tell Elaine that Kramer’s condoms (including the blue one George uses) are defective. Elaine doesn’t tell Jerry that Cynthia missed her period. Eventually, this web of deceit comes to surface in front of George—who hearing that he has ‘slipped one past the goalie’ runs to Cynthia’s place like a dog with two tails. In the end, Cynthia gets her period but continues to date George after witnessing his positive reaction to the prospect of fatherhood.
Airing in 1992, ‘The Fix-Up’ earned Seinfeld its first Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. That same year, John Gray released his bestselling book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, and British Prime Minister John Major announced the formal separation of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Worse still: eHarmony was eight years away from launching. The psychological incongruities between men and women seemed more inscrutable and despairing than ever. And yet, rather than feel disheartened, Seinfeld has us laughing.
George: I mean it’s gotten to the point where I’m flirting with operators on the phone. I almost made a date with one.
Jerry: Oh, so there’s still hope.
George: I don’t want hope. Hope is killing me. My dream is to become hopeless. When you’re hopeless, you don’t care, and when you don’t care, that indifference makes you attractive.
Jerry: Oh, so hopelessness is the key.
George: It’s my only hope.
It’s Really Just Something You Say
Endlessly repeatable and immediately recognizable, here is were we discuss the episode quotes to remember.
As good as the dialogue is in the Fix-Up, it becomes even more enlivened by the episode’s contrastive structure; arranging a ping-pong match between male and female perspectives more so than a sequence of events. In the first scene, we jump between two restaurants in which George and Cynthia respectively alternate wading in a pool of their own self-pity. However, quick as George is to shovel his dinner into his mouth, conversely Cynthia is quick to throw up the main course before dessert arrives.
In arguably one of the best sequences in the show’s run, Jerry and Elaine attempt to persuade their respective candidates to go on a date with one another. Once again, the structure juxtaposes male and female psyches. George asks: What does she look like? Cynthia asks: What does he do?
George: What about personality?
Jerry: Good personality. Funny. Bright.
George: Smarter than me? I don’t want anyone smarter than me.
Jerry: How could she be smarter than you?
You Know Who I Ran Into Today?
Aside from its hall of fame main cast, Seinfeld had an amazing gallery of side characters. Each episode has a favourite worth talking about.
As we shift from Jerry’s apartment to Elaine’s apartment, the writing zeroes in on the contradictions within George and Cynthia (key side character and future Friends annoyance played by Maggie Wheeler) exhibiting the offsetting of their desires and expectations. Despite being at their tether’s end in the episode’s opening, we find both characters reluctant to accept what they ostensibly desire. In George’s case: Cynthia is a woman who is somewhat interested. For Cynthia: George is a man with nothing. It’s a match made in heaven. Yet, our beggars are choosers; running through their own personal hierarchy of needs hoping that their ‘match’ meets their criteria. It is from these disparate hierarchies that this episode garners much of its genius, bringing social and cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity to the fore.
In other words, this aforementioned sequence does not restrict its observations on the dating hierarchy to the characters on the show but rather extends them outward to encompass every man and woman at large. For men, a woman’s appearance is most important—although her eyebrows don’t really matter. For women, a man’s occupation and commitment rank high, and proper dinner etiquette is an added bonus. However, in the end these apparent psychological differences cannot keep men and women from getting together. After all, George and Cynthia wind up a couple..Led by the episode’s rock-solid structure, the dialogue in The Fix-Up appears more lyrical in its delivery—building each line towards greater laughs rather than delivering an instant smash. The George-led discussion of Cynthia:
George: What about the skin? I need a good cheek, I like a good cheek.
Jerry: She’s got a fine cheek.
George: Is there a pinkish hue?
Jerry: A pinkish hue?
George: Yes, a rosy glow.
Jerry: There’s a hue. She’s got great eyebrows, women kill to have her eyebrows.
George: Who cares about eyebrows? Is she sweet? I like sweet. But not too sweet, you could throw up from that.
Jerry: I don’t think you’ll throw up. She likes to throw up.
Yada Yada Yada
Every classic episode has at least one element that has become part of the cultural lexicon somehow. Here is where we discuss those random elements.
In addition to the rhythmic qualities of the dialogue in The Fix-Up, the writing also displays an extraordinary depth of functionality in this episode. We see characters expose, deceive, confide and persuade one another—all through language. In another way, The Fix-Up displays the malleability of language: its flimsiness that allows us to retool it in order to serve our needs best. As a result, dialogue takes on most of the responsibility for the comedy in this episode, relying on structure, time and inflection rather than Kramer’s slapstick routines, wacky supporting characters or whimsical premises (most of which came to define later seasons).
In Jerry’s opening stand-up excerpt he champions God as being the first matchmaker ever, responsible for fixing up Adam & Eve. As hilarious as this observation might be, what’s funnier is that since the dawn of creation the differences between men and women continue to fascinate and linger. And the jury’s still out. While the entire series attempts to isolate the psychological disparities that keep men and women out of sync with one another, The Fix-Up is remarkable for its rich and sincere depiction in the span of thirty minutes.
The Fix-Up is an episode that reminds us that as hopeless, bitter, superficial and dejected as we might be, there is someone just like us out there, maybe worse. And they’re ready to know what you look like and what you do.