Seinfeld's Most Salacious Episode, "The Contest", Turns 20
On November 18, 1992, the creators and writers of Seinfeld posed a serious question to Americans, just weeks after they elected Bill Clinton as their new president.
"How long can a modern human go without masturbating?" they asked, without even using the dreaded M-word, with more than 22 minutes of side-stepping stuttering hilarity.
Written by Larry David, it's easily one of the best episodes of the series and it ushered in a public dialog. He even won an Emmy for this one.
You can check out David and the cast talking about the genesis of the episode here on YouTube. Jerry Seinfeld himself was the one who championed it.
For all the show's inanity and nothingness, they did a good job of shoving social issues into the forefront. Serious topics like drugging a woman to play with her toys, puffy shirts, and soup counter dictators.
But with "The Contest" the Seinfeld tapped into uncharted territory for television. The phrase "master of my domain" would become code for taming your lustful onanistic urges.
Today if a current sitcom tackled this same subject it wouldn't be a big deal. Censors in 1992 were still scared of the m-word. We were all still two years away from the Jocelyn Elders debacle too.
And with porn so prevalent on smart phones now, the novelty of jacking it to a copy of Glamour is sweetly-innocent.
Even the concept of a woman masturbating -- giggle giggle -- was foreign in 1992. The fact that Elaine got her rocks off to the spank bank images of John F. Kennedy Jr. in her aerobics class helped string the Kennedy thread through the history of the series.
Of course it was Kramer tapping out of the contest within the span of 30 seconds that pushed the contest and the episode out of the atmosphere.
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