If you want to feel really old, consider this: “The Contest,” arguably one of the best, if not the best episode of Seinfeld of all time is 21 years old. TWENTY ONE YEARS OLD. That episode of Seinfeld is five days older than Miley Cyrus. That is insane.
If you don’t recall which episode of Seinfeld “The Contest” is, then you probably have never seen Seinfeld. But, just to refresh your memory, after George is caught by his mother masturbating, the A-plot concerned a contest between the four main cast members about who could go the longest without self-pleasuring. The episode actually garnered Larry David an Emmy Award for Best Writing, and it launched the catchphrase “Master of my Domain” as a euphemism for masturbation.
Anyway, I have no idea why I was thinking about “The Contest.” I was sitting at home alone, minding my own business, and a memory of that episode popped into my head, and I thought I’d look it up, and see if there was anything interesting about the episode I could pass along, and sure enough, there are a few fun facts about it that are worth mentioning.
1. The original airing of “The Contest,” was seen by about 18.5 million viewers; it was the episode that really and truly helped launch Seinfeld into the ratings juggernaut it became. In fact, the first repeat airing actually was seen by ten million more people than the original airing, which is pretty much unheard of today. The nearly 30 million viewers who watched the rerun is like three times more than saw the Breaking Bad finale, which has to make “The Contest” the most popular rerun of all time.
2. Despite the fact that most of the episode revolved around a masturbation contest, the word “masturbation” was never used in the episode. Euphemisms were used instead: “Master of My Domain,” “Lord of my Manor,” and “Queen of my Castle.” No one thought that the episode would be aired because of the subject material, but it got through just fine. In fact, Jerry Seinfeld thought that, even if they’d used the word “masturation,” censors would’ve allowed it (the word has been used once before on the series), but part of the reason the episode was so funny is because the word is never used.
3. In fact, the only note the censors gave the show was not to use the word, “Snapple” as a euphemism for masturbation. It’s weird that both that was used as a euphemism, and that the network censors would ask them not to use it.
4. “The Contest” was actually based on an actual masturbation contest that Larry David and Kenny Kramer (the inspiration for Kramer) engaged in. The contest lasted several months. Larry David won.
5. In case you’ve forgotten, George won the contest, or so we thought. George revealed in the series finale that he actually cheated, which made Jerry the legitimate winner. Why did George cheat, Jerry asked him in the finale? “Because I’m a cheater.”