These 13 Jokes From 'Seinfeld' Are Super Offensive Now — Yes, That Includes The "Soup Nazi"
One of the unfortunate consequences of being a fan of a show that's now almost 30 years old is that it may not feel relevant or relatable when you watch it later. With Seinfeld, that change in enjoyability may be even greater due to the '90s comedy's frequent pushing of boundaries. The titular star of the show, Jerry Seinfeld, has frequently spoken publicly about believing that society has become overly politically correct, so you can probably imagine how some of Seinfeld's non-PC humor could feel outdated today. These 13 jokes from Seinfeld are super offensive now, and it will make you realize how much times have changed — well, hopefully, at least.
The debates over comedy's job to "push the limits" and make people uncomfortable may only be getting started, what with former superstars like Louis C.K. earning public rebukes for making inappropriate, non-PC jokes in his new stand-up set. Hopefully most people can agree that comedy, even "edgy" comedy, doesn't need to alienate marginalized groups in order to make people laugh, though. Thanks to more modern understandings of what political correctness entails — and why being PC is important — it's less common these days to find jokes like the offensive ones that often played out on Seinfeld. Here are some of the show's worst offenses.
1. The Soup Nazi
What might be the most well-known joke from Seinfeld is also one of its most disappointing ones. Maybe in 1995, when the episode (titled "The Soup Nazi") aired, it felt okay for viewers, but in 2018 when groups of Neo-Nazis have become noticeably emboldened, using the term "Nazi" to label someone as a joke doesn't sit so well anymore.
2. The 'Indian Giver' Joke
Joking about a Native American person being an "Indian Giver," was never okay — and it's definitely not okay now. Joking that a racial stereotype about an oppressed group is actually truthful is a dangerous road, and Seinfeld probably couldn't get away with doing that in 2018.
3. Kramer Stomping On A Burning Puerto Rican Flag
This episode actually caused a controversy in 1998 when it aired, as The New York Times reported that the president of the National Puerto Rican Coalition, Manuel Mirabal called it an "unconscionable insult." Mirabal said, "It is unacceptable that the Puerto Rican flag be used by Seinfeld as a stage prop under any circumstances," the New York Times reported.
Over 20 years later, the joke is still sour.
4. The 'Joke' That Someone Thinks Jerry And George Are In A Same-Sex Relationship
In Season 4, Episode 17, a journalist thinks Jerry and George are in a same-sex relationship and it's the basis of a whole episode's worth of bad jokes. Even if this same joke recurred in Friends years later, it's really not that funny now.
5. When Kramer Has Houseguests From Japan Sleep In His Dresser Drawers
Kramer has visiting Japanese businessmen stay in his apartment, and since the space is limited, Jerry's neighbor has the house guests sleep in dresser drawers. That just wouldn't fly now.
6. When Jerry Accidentally Gets A Man Deported
Again, so much of Seinfeld's humor relies on the misfortunes of its main characters who haplessly fumble into misunderstandings that often have major consequences for other characters. That's exactly what happens in the episode when Jerry mistakenly causes Babu Bhatt to be deported.
7. Cedric And Bob
Cedric and Bob appeared in three episodes, per Seinfeld's Wiki, including the "Puerto Rican Day" episode. In each episode they appear, the two characters who make up a gay couple play up stereotypes of both of Latinx and homosexual male cultures.
8. When George Got Caught Staring At A Teenager's Breasts
Everything about this storyline is awkward, and it's probably enough to make any die-hard Seinfeld question the show if they think about it for too long.
9. 'The Chinese Woman'
"If I like their race, how can that be racist?" Jerry asks after telling Elaine that he "loves Chinese women." Hopefully the issues with that exchange don't require further explanation for anyone in 2018.
10. The Joke About The 'Pigman'
Kramer thinks he sees a "pig man" while at the hospital, and then later he discovers that the person was a "fat little mental patient." Yikes.
11. When George Pursues A Woman Because She Can't Speak English
In Season 4, Episode 18, George and the crew volunteer to help the elderly. Once George learns that a housekeeper who works for Jerry's assigned patient doesn't speak English, George says he's interested in dating her. The joke here is that George finds a woman who can't talk to him attractive and, ew.
12. The Joke About The Handicap Spot
In a Season 4 episode titled "The Handicap Spot," Kramer convinces George to park in a handicap spot, and when the group returns to the car, they learn that a person in a wheelchair got into an accident because the handicap parking spot was taken.
The fact that a big laugh comes after a woman describes the person in a wheelchair falling down an incline and into a wall might make you feel a little bit icky, and for good reason.
13. The Joke About George's Girlfriend's Big Nose
In Season 3's ninth episode, George dates a woman with a large nose, and she decides to get a nose job after Kramer says that she needs one. It's so wrong on so many levels.
As much as you want your favorite show in the world to withstand the test of time, Seinfeld fans might have to find out that their show is a problematic favorite in many instances.