|"The Bizarro Jerry"|
|Episode no.||Season 8
|Directed by||Andy Ackerman|
|Written by||David Mandel|
|Original air date||October 3, 1996|
"The Bizarro Jerry" is the 137th episode of the American television sitcom Seinfeld. This was the third episode for the eighth season. It was originally broadcast on the NBC network on October 3, 1996. The title and plot extensively reference the Bizarro (the polar opposite of Superman) and Bizarro-Earth concepts that originally appeared in various comic books published by DC Comics. This episode is famous for introducing the phrase "man-hands".
David Mandel wrote the episode in response to his then girlfriend Rebecca ending their long-distance relationship. Rebecca, now wife of Mandel, was self-conscious about what she calls her "farm-hands". According to Mandel, writing a Seinfeld episode (and this one in particular) "it’s the modern equivalent of a Shakespeare sonnet”.
Elaine breaks up with her boyfriend Kevin (from "The Soul Mate"), but they decide to "just be friends." Much to Elaine's surprise, Kevin is thrilled at the idea, and starts becoming a much more reliable friend than Jerry. Jerry suggests to Elaine that Kevin is "Bizarro Jerry", and explains the comic book concept of Bizarro World. Meanwhile, Kramer accidentally gets a job at a company called Brandt/Leland when he aids an employee in the hall and starts going to meetings. He soon finds out he fits right in and starts working there for no pay, stating his reason as doing it "just for me." When Jerry asks Kramer what he does, Kramer responds, "TCB - you know, taking care of business!" A montage of his office work includes scenes of Kramer eating crackers at lunch and shining his shoes at the water cooler.
Jerry starts dating Gillian (Kristin Bauer), an attractive woman whose only flaw is that she has "man-hands.", i.e. her hands are large and coarse like a man's. George uses a picture of Gillian to get into the "forbidden city", a club of attractive women and models, by saying that Gillian is his late fiancee Susan. Unfortunately, his luck ends when he accidentally burns the picture with a hair dryer. Jerry becomes bored at home, now that Kramer is "working", Elaine is always hanging out with Kevin and his friends Gene and Feldman (Bizarro versions of George and Kramer, respectively), and George only comes to him when he wants something.
By the end of the episode, Kramer gets fired by Leland (despite the fact that Kramer doesn't really work at Leland) because of his shoddy work ("It's almost as if you have no business training at all"). Jerry wants to be "just friends" with Gillian, who does not take too well to the idea. While trying to get another picture of her from her purse for George, she grabs Jerry's wrist (which Jerry later describes as almost ripping his arm right out of the socket). George tries to use a picture of a model from a magazine to get back into the club, but his plan is foiled when he accidentally confronts exactly the same model from the magazine picture and gets kicked out. Jerry, George, and Kramer go to meet Elaine at the same time that Kevin, Gene, and Feldman were to meet up with her - both groups of men react rather awkwardly at seeing their Bizarro counterparts. Elaine decides to stay with her "Bizarro friends", but is explicitly asked to leave by them when they do not take to some of the normal things she usually does with Jerry, such as eating olives directly out of the jar from Kevin's refrigerator and pushing Kevin, with her trademark outburst of "get out!", so hard that he falls and gets hurt.
Later, George takes Jerry to the location of the club, but all they find is a meat packing plant. George is dismayed, while Jerry doesn't believe there ever was a club there. As they leave, they miss seeing the photo George had taken from a magazine, lying amidst the sawdust on the ground.
The concept of a Bizarro universe is directly taken from the Superman universe, in addition to verbal references to Superman:
At the very end of the show, a scene takes place in Kevin's apartment (which has a Bizarro statue by the door, similar to how Jerry's apartment has a Superman statue by the door) in which Kevin, Gene, and Feldman all join in a group hug, and the following line is spoken in the same way that the Bizarro from the Superman universe speaks:
In a review of two adjacent episodes, David Sims of The A.V. Club writes, "The Bizarro Jerry and The Little Kicks are probably two of the better-known season 8 episodes and for good reason – they're a lot of fun." Sims speculates that "The Bizarro Jerry just reeks of a concept that Seinfeld wanted to do forever, given his obsession with Superman, and finally got the chance to once he was fully in charge of the show... Elaine finds that Kevin...and his friends are like a weird mirror group to her friends. But it's very effectively staged that it works, even once the joke has become totally familiar – the idea of characters having strange doubles is now one of the oldest sitcom tropes in the book... Elaine, of course, quickly realizes that the bizarro universe is not for her... the whole time she's more of an interested party than anything, examining the bizarro gang like a scientist." Of the "man-hands" segments, Sims says, "Like many a good Seinfeld episode, there's a B-plot nestled in here that feels like the dominant A-plot of another episode, considering what a major meme it became."
John J. O'Connor of The New York Times also explained why he found the episode fun: "Bizarro Jerry has found Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) entering a world of virtual reality with a new boyfriend who eerily resembled Jerry except that he was reliable and considerate. Moreover, his friends were physical clones of George and Kramer (Michael Richards). 'It's like Superman's opposite,' observed Jerry, pinpointing the bizarro of the title. Meanwhile, Jerry was dating a beautiful young woman whose only flaw (flaws are inevitable on Seinfeld) was having man's hands: meaty paws, whined Jerry, 'like a creature out of Greek mythology.' Kramer drifted incomprehensibly into a corporate job in which he 'finally found structure' and was able to strut about with a briefcase full of Ritz crackers."
The hands of actor James Rekart are the "famous Man-Hands" in the episode of "The Bizarro Jerry". James Rekart was personally cast by Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld remembered Rekart from acting classes that they both attended.