What George Costanza Can Teach Us About Being a Man

As Seinfeld turns 25, we celebrate the flawed genius of its standout character

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This summer marks 25 years since Seinfeld was first broadcast on TV. Whether you think Jerry Seinfeld’s iconic sitcom about nothing in particular paved the way for some of the greatest comedy ever made or not, it certainly challenged the half-hour sitcom format for the better and paved the way for shows like Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development and Girls.

But though the show's loose premise revolved around Jerry Seinfeld playing Jerry Seinfeld (making him a multimillionaire in the process), it was his co-star George Costanza that stole some of the best lines.

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Free from any of the moral responsibilities a main character gets lumbered with, George was the failure we can all identify with, but still feel superior to.

Here are 10 of our favourite George moments:
 

1 | Be The Person You Want To Be

Whether you agree with George’s flagrant lie about being a marine biologist – and his subsequent tale of rescuing a beached whale when his new girlfriend throws him in the deep end – you still have to admire how much George wants to be a better, more interesting man, even if the show is constantly reminding us that he isn’t. 

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2 | Stand Your Ground On Bread-Related Issues

The Soup Nazi owns a trendy soup kitchen in New York but runs it with the charm and poise of Soviet Russia. No talking, no special requests, just order your food, move down the line, pay, and get out.

When he’s refused free bread, George kicks up a fuss, enraging the Soup Nazi and earning a ban from the kitchen, leaving to a ridiculous plot involving soup-based blackmail and a chest of drawers.

3 | Life Isn't A Competition, But You Should Still Try And Win

The entire plot of “The Contest” revolves around the characters all agreeing to see who can go the longest without masturbating, and was considered so controversial at the time the staff had to write as many double entrendres as possible to avoid being censored.

George’s hyper-competitive streak culminates in him visiting his sick mother, only to eavesdrop on a hot nurse giving a female patient a sponge bath. In an episode several years later, George claims he wins “the contest”, which, as any competitive man will know, makes it all worthwhile.

4 | When In Doubt, Pretend You’re Disabled

When George secures a job with a playground equipment company on a technicality – they think he’s disabled – he has to start walking everywhere with a cane to keep up the lie.

And, because he values the job more than his ability to walk around unaided, George has to take the stair lift, be carried by colleagues and keep up appearances at all costs. In short: personal sacrifice (ie losing the use of your legs) justifies securing your dream job.

5 | Always Strive To Try New Things, Even At Your Own Expense

…and manages to gain the empathy of every man who has tried a mustachioed look in the process.

“You said it would be like a vacation from ourselves,” pines Jerry. “I feel like an out of work porn star,” George replies, glumly.

6 | Impressing Women Is Important, Even If You Have To Lie

When his educated girlfriend Monica asks him to take an IQ test, George is paranoid that whatever his score is won’t be high enough to impress her, so he does the sensible thing and asks an eclectic restaurant owner to do it for him by passing it through a window.

7 | Avoid Confrontation Where Possible

In an attempt to repel his fiancée Susan, who George has decided he doesn’t want to marry, George takes up smoking, knowing that she absolutely hates smokers, rather than sit down and talk like an adult. An admirable amount of pragmatism, even if his girlfriend eventually dies of toxic poisoning (caused by George).

8 | Always Value Your Life Over Others, Especially Women And Children

While arguing with a clown at a birthday party (played by Jon Favreau, just one of Seinfeld’s excellent guest stars) George notices a fire, and pushes past every child, elderly lady and clown in his path to the exit.

His rational is perfect. “I was trying to lead the way! We needed a leader!”

9 | Pick Your Battles Wisely

When “beating” a girl at a game of chess, George spends so long chastising her over her move (“You brought your Queen out too fast! What do you think she’s one of those feminists, trying to get out of the house?”) that she takes his King and wins.

Rather than admit defeat, he responds with “I don’t think we should see each other any more”.

10 | If All Else Fails, Try To Be Content

Despite being told by Kramer, as bluntly as possible, that he has very little to live for in his current situation, George remains typically, naively cheery. "I'm not wasting my life!" he declares, despite admitting he has no money, no job, no girlfriend, no savings or no prospects. "I'm living!"

Seinfield's 25th Anniversay complete series box set is out now

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