By all accounts, Jason Alexander sounds like a delightful man who is hopefully quite content on this, his 55th birthday. George Costanza, his alter ego through nine seasons on Seinfeld (a few guest spots on Curb Your Enthusiasm and one odd episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,) always seemed like the exact opposite of delightful and content.
Temperamental, rude, self-absorbed, and self-hating, we should have despised George but despite his failings the character was and still is beloved because the writers were able to use him, more than any other character on the show, to confront their own (and our own) irritations with modern life and our fellow man.
The Jerk Store’s all-time bestseller, George rarely took on the outside world with style, grace, and wit. Instead, the constantly put upon Costanza howled with vigor at those who dared offend or annoy him. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments of joy for George Costanza and those were celebrated with a more positive kind of exuberance, but George was his most George like and the champion of the perturbed masses when he was blowing his top. So with that in mind, here are 10 of George Costanza’s best outbursts, presented in no particular order.
“You’re giving me the it’s not you it’s me routine?”
George had inexplicable luck with the opposite sex before he ultimately bungled those relationships or put a stop to them for some silly reason. Here, George is the one who is about to get broken-up with, but rather than feel a sense of rejection, his pride flares up when the woman uses his relationship exit routine.
“I’m gonna show you what it’s like!”
After finding success doing everything contrary to what his gut tells him to do, George throws himself into a possible physical confrontation with two guys that look like they walked off of a Jerky Boys album cover.
An idea that originally lived as one of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David’s many un-aired Saturday Night Live sketches finds George going to extremes to swap out an embarrassing answering machine message. This is sort of the opposite of the last outburst in that in this instance the immediacy of a cell phone would actually make this situation much worse.
“You know, we’re living in a society!”
In “The Chinese Restaurant,” George weeps for the dissolution of our once polite society while waiting for a pay phone to come available in one of the many Seinfeld moments that would be completely irrelevant now thanks to cell phones. Larry David almost quit the show because NBC brass didn’t want to air this episode that was seemingly about nothing. Thank goodness they changed their mind and David hung on for a few more seasons.
“I was in the pool! I was in the pool!”
I’m not going to judge George harshly for this outburst. He’s dealing with a betrayal from a trusted “friend” thanks to cold water and the term “shrinkage.”
“It’s all pipes!”
In “The Wife,” George draws the ire of Elaine’s latest romantic target when the fellow spots George relieving himself in a gym shower. Is this George Costanza’s most despicable moment? I’ll leave that determination to you, but this scene did bring into question everything that we thought we knew about proper bathroom behavior and plumbing.
“George is getting upset!”
In the sixth season episode “The Jimmy,” George contracts illeism from low level sneaker pimp Jimmy, speaking of himself in the third person in matters regarding chicken and later, his emotions. “George is getting upset!” became a late series catch phrase, even rearing it’s head in “The Maid,” a season nine episode where George tried to get his co-workers to call him T-Bone before suffering the indignity of being called Coco and then Gammy. “Gammy’s getting upset!” indeed.
“If relationship George walks through this door, he will kill independent George!”
This is a safe place, we can all admit that we’re sometimes a bit different when we’re with our friends than we are when we’re with our significant others, right? If I’m not alone here, then I think that means that we can all understand and truly appreciate George’s brilliant rant to Jerry about that gentle balance and the possible collision course that his two worlds are on.
After watching Frank and Estelle Costanza for a few seasons it became easy to see why George became a ball of rage. In “The Serenity Now,” George adopts his father’s ineffective stress management technique, yelling “Serenity Now!” while coming up short in a competition with his childhood rival, Lloyd Braun.
“I proclaim this the summer of George!”
The season eight finale, “The Summer of George,” presents George with his ultimate fantasy: a three month paid vacation provided by the New York Yankees in the form of his severance package. Though big plans are established, George mostly recedes into life as a hermit before eventually slipping on a spare invitation (placed by the ghost of George’s departed fiance?) while walking down the stairs, injuring his leg and setting him off on a long recovery.
“This was supposed to be the summer of George,” Costanza says ruefully at the end of that episode, reminding us that no matter how terrible George was, we still want to root for the little guy with a big mouth to throw his arms wide, look to the sky, and smile wide in celebration… until his next misadventure.