Seinfeld has finally hit Netflix. This influential sitcom is about the fictional life of real stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld, his friends George Costanza and Elaine Benes, and his eccentric next door neighbour, Cosmo Kramer. Created by Seinfeld and Larry David (of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame), it's famously a 'show about nothing', with stories that focus on the minutiae of everyday life.
But what really sets it apart from other US sitcoms of the era is that there's absolutely no sentimentality. To quote Larry David's personal philosophy for writing the show, "no hugging, no learning." There are 9 seasons and 180 episodes of Seinfeld available to stream on Netflix right now, but if you only watch 20, make sure it's these.
20. The Dinner Party (S5E13)
As the gang prepares for a dinner party, Elaine and Jerry go on a mission to buy a chocolate babka from a popular bakery, George is mocked for his ridiculously thick winter coat, and Kramer encounters a double parker. A perfect comedy of errors with a superb pay-off at the end.
19. The Alternate Side (S3E11)
Jerry's car is stolen, George takes a job parking cars and struggles to cope with the stress, and Kramer somehow lands a speaking role in the new Woody Allen movie, with one famous line: "These pretzels are making me thirsty." This is the show at its chaotic, quotable best.
18. The Cafe (S3E7)
Fascinated by a struggling local restaurant, Jerry steps in and attempts to reinvent it. But the highlight of the episode is George's girlfriend asking him to take an IQ test. Fearing looking stupid, he concocts an elaborate plan to cheat on it, which (of course) backfires magnificently.
17. The Parking Garage (S3E6)
Kramer fails to remember where he left his car in a parking garage and the gang desperately searches for it. Elaine's goldfish is dying, Jerry badly needs a pee, and George has to meet his parents for their anniversary dinner. A prime example of the show making the mundane hilarious.
16. The Strike (S9E10)
A 12-year strike at a bagel store ends and the usually unemployed Kramer returns to work. Meanwhile, George's father prepares to celebrate Festivus, a holiday he claims to have created to escape the stress of Christmas shopping. One of the great Frank Costanza episodes.
15. The Truth (S3E2)
George's girlfriend Patrice is doing Jerry's taxes, until George decides to spectacularly break up with her for being pretentious, specifically pointing out the affected way she says 'papier-mâché.' One of the best episodes about the neurotic George's many failed relationships.
14. The Opposite (S5E21)
George tells Jerry that every decision he's ever made in his life has been wrong, and that he's now going to do the opposite of what he thinks he should – with surprising results. This is a rare instance of George achieving some success, while Elaine experiences the exact opposite.
13. The Puffy Shirt (S5E2)
Jerry is set to make an appearance on the Today Show, but after mishearing Kramer's girlfriend Leslie (a 'low-talker') he accidentally agrees to wear a shirt she designed on the show – which as you can see above, he is not entirely happy about. A classic, fan favorite episode.
12. The Pie (S5E15)
Jerry is annoyed when his girlfriend Audrey refuses to try a bite of his apple pie, which culminates in a hilariously awkward scene at her father's restaurant. Meanwhile, Elaine is disturbed when Kramer tells her about a mannequin in a clothing store that looks exactly like her.
11. The Marine Biologist (S5E14)
Jerry runs into Diane, who George had a crush on at college, and tells her that George is now a successful marine biologist. This lie spins out of control (they often do on this show), and the episode ends with a legendary monologue by George about an encounter with a whale.
10. The Hamptons (S5E20)
The gang goes on vacation in the Hamptons, where Jerry's new girlfriend Rachel accidentally sees George naked and laughs, much to his dismay. In one of Seinfeld's funniest scenes, George explains that he was suffering from 'shrinkage', having just gotten out of the pool.
9. The Sniffing Accountant (S5E4)
Jerry is convinced his accountant Barry, who sniffs constantly, is using drugs and can't be trusted. Kramer goes undercover in a bar in an attempt to discover the truth, which results in an all-time classic moment of Kramer physical comedy. "Here's to feeling good all the time."
8. The Pony Remark (S2E2)
Jerry attends an anniversary dinner, where he makes an off-hand remark about ponies that has fatal consequences. Kramer, meanwhile, attempts to rid his apartment of furniture by constructing a series of wooden 'levels.' Season 2 is where Seinfeld really starts hitting its stride.
7. The Jacket (S2E3)
Jerry falls in love with an expensive suede jacket with a pink striped lining, which he wears to meet Elaine's gruff, aggressive father. It snows, and Jerry turns the jacket inside out to protect the delicate suede, which Elaine's dad (played by actor Lawrence Tierney, the subject of a legendary on-set Seinfeld anecdote involving a knife) does not appreciate. A brilliantly awkward episode.
6. The Chinese Restaurant (S2E11)
The gang is stuck in the lobby of a Chinese restaurant awaiting delivery of a meal the waiter keeps telling them is 5 minutes away. This beloved episode is peak Seinfeld, with sharp, witty writing making something as banal as standing waiting for food incredibly funny and engaging.
5. The Contest (S4E10)
The gang holds a contest to see who can go the longest without masturbating after George's mother walks in on him doing it and collapses – except no one ever uses the word 'masturbate' in the episode. Larry David won an Emmy for this controversial episode, and with good reason: it's incredibly funny, especially that Kramer moment.
4. The Soup Nazi (S7E6)
A soup stand owner gains a reputation as the 'soup Nazi' because of the strict rules he enforces. "No soup for you!" he shouts at anyone who breaks them. The soup is so delicious, however, that people follow them – except Elaine, who challenges the system. An iconic episode.
3. The Revenge (S2E7)
George storms into his boss's office on a Friday, theatrically quits his job, insults him, then almost immediately regrets it. Rather than look for a new job, he decides to go back into the office the following Monday and pretend like nothing happened. The greatest George episode.
2. The Pen (S3E3)
Jerry and Elaine visit Jerry's parents at a Florida retirement community, where Jerry accepts a gift of a pen that can write upside down from his father's rival, Jack Klompus, and creates a storm of drama. A classic, very Seinfeld example of a social faux pas spiralling into chaos.
1. The Limo (S3E18)
Stranded at the airport, George and Jerry spot a limo driver with a sign saying 'O'Brien' and lie and say it's for them. As the limo makes its way into the city, the truth about who O'Brien really is becomes distressingly clear to the pair. The writing in Seinfeld has never been funnier than it is here.