Many of us are nearing the end of our first Netflix binge of Seinfeld, but Season 8's Episode 16, titled “The Pothole,” has caught our collective attention. What is it about this episode that’s so hilarious? After 150 episodes of Seinfeld, one would think that they’d run out of ideas, but some of the best episodes, including “The Abstinence,” took place in Season 8.
Plus, there’s one significant thing that’s changed about “The Pothole” in Seinfeld’s move to Netflix. The titular object — the pothole that George believes his keys are stuck in — is cropped out of the 16:9 ratio Netflix adapted the series to.
For some fans, this makes “The Pothole” unwatchable, but others are still charmed by the episode and the important part it plays in comedy history.
“The Pothole” was so effective in its physical comedy that its director, Andy Ackerman, won an Emmy award for the episode.
While the writing is always a strong component of a successful Seinfeld episode, the direction of “The Pothole” is truly next-level. The physical comedy of all four principal characters is at an all-time high.
In this episode, Kramer decides to adopt a mile of the fictional “Arthur Burghardt Expressway” (named for an actor who was almost cast in Seinfeld) to keep that mile litter-free after he runs over a sewing machine. But when a can is stuck in the middle of the highway, Kramer risks his life and runs into traffic.
According to an inside look into the episode, Michael Richards, who plays Kramer, completely improvised his run into traffic with actual moving cars driven by extras, who were terrified.
Jerry, on the other hand, accidentally drops his girlfriend (played by Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis)’s toothbrush in the toilet and can’t kiss her knowing she brushed her teeth with it. Between his neurosis getting so out of whack and the camera zooming in on her lips, each moment is an opportunity for laughter.
George, of course, wants to get his keys from a pothole that’s been sealed up. By the end of the episode, he decides to jackhammer into the cement himself. His body and face hilariously bounce up and down like Jell-O while he uses the giant jackhammer.
Jerry Seinfeld called “The Pothole” one of the best episodes of ‘Seinfeld.’
The night before “The Pothole” aired for the first time, Jerry went on The Tonight Show and declared that the episode was one of Seinfeld’s all-time greatest. While some fans disagree, the way all four stories intersect at the end is just one of the reasons "The Pothole" is so brilliant. Plus, weaving four storylines into one episode effectively is masterful on its own.
Our favorite storyline in this episode is Elaine’s (thanks to its absurdity). She tries to order a Supreme Flounder to her apartment on the south side of 86th St., but the restaurant refuses to deliver south of 86th St., claiming that the street itself is the boundary.
Elaine tries to cross the street to meet the delivery guy, but when he realizes she doesn’t live there, he takes back the food, so she uses a janitor’s closet as her “fake apartment”… and is forced to take on some janitorial duties.
What’s truly amazing about “The Pothole” is the way each storyline feeds into another to create legitimate disaster. When Elaine takes Jerry’s car to deliver trash for the building, a sewing machine falls out that Newman drives over, creating sparks, which make his truck catch fire on the paint thinner Kramer inadvertently spills on his mile of the highway.
On the other hand, when George jackhammers into the street, he busts open a pipe that connects back to Jerry’s girlfriend’s toilet, soaking her in the contents of the toilet. It’s the perfect punchline to Jerry’s neuroses and he ends up breaking up with her on the spot.
All nine seasons of Seinfeld are now available to stream on Netflix.