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The Bookstore

The Bookstore

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Encyclopedia
"The Bookstore" is the 173rd episode of the NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 sitcom Seinfeld
Seinfeld
Seinfeld is an American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from July 5, 1989, to May 14, 1998, lasting nine seasons, and is now in syndication. It was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself...

. This was the 17th episode for the 9th and final season. It aired on April 16, 1998.

Plot


Kramer
Cosmo Kramer
Cosmo Kramer, usually referred to as simply "Kramer", is a fictional character on the American television sitcom Seinfeld , played by Michael Richards...

 "hangs out" more than usual at Jerry
Jerry Seinfeld (character)
Jerome "Jerry" Seinfeld is the main protagonist of the American television sitcom Seinfeld . The straight man among his group of friends, this semi-fictionalized version of comedian Jerry Seinfeld was named after, co-created by, based on, and played by Seinfeld himself.The series revolves around...

's place. At the beginning of the episode, Jerry leaves Kramer alone in his apartment. Kramer immediately jumps up and starts to make a smoothie and spills juice all over the counter, then uses Jerry's couch cushion to clean it up. Kramer is then seen riding Jerry's bike around his apartment, yelling down at people on the street, and doing a Jerry stand-up impersonation. Jerry and George
George Costanza
George Louis Costanza is a character in the American television sitcom Seinfeld , played by Jason Alexander. He has variously been described as a "short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man" , "Lord of the Idiots" , and as "the greatest sitcom character of all time"...

 are at a bookstore, Brentano's
Brentano's
Brentano's was an American bookstore. In addition to the numerous locations in the United States, there was a Brentano's on Avenue de l'Opéra in Paris, at the same location for 114 years....

, where George hopes to meet women and Jerry spots Uncle Leo shoplifting. George takes a large book into the bathroom with him, then the bookstore makes George buy the book. Elaine
Elaine Benes
Elaine Marie Benes is a fictional character on the American television sitcom Seinfeld , played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Elaine's best friend is her ex-boyfriend Jerry Seinfeld; she is also good friends with George Costanza and Cosmo Kramer...

 is at the annual Peterman party, where everyone is anxious to know if she is going to dance again. Elaine didn't dance at the party; instead, she and a man named Zach got drunk and made out at their table. George suggests that she tell everyone that she and Zach are dating (so that she won't be known as the "office skank"). Kramer and Newman
Newman (Seinfeld)
Newman is a recurring character on the television show Seinfeld, played by Wayne Knight from 1991 until the show's finale in 1998.-Background:...

 plan to implement Kramer's idea for running a rickshaw service in the city. They are getting a rickshaw from Hong Kong, now they need to find someone to pull it. Jerry confronts Uncle Leo about the stolen book. Uncle Leo
Uncle Leo
Uncle Leo is a fictional character portrayed by Len Lesser in 15 episodes of the American sitcom Seinfeld. He is Jerry Seinfeld's uncle and Helen Seinfeld's brother.-Character:Uncle Leo is very eccentric...

 claims it is a right as a senior citizen. Elaine catches her man with another woman. Kramer and Newman attempt to interview potential rickshaw pullers from a collection of homeless men; however, one of the candidates takes off with the rickshaw. George tries to return his book, but is told the book has been "flagged" as having been in the bathroom. Jerry rats out Uncle Leo at the bookstore.

Jerry talks with his parents about Uncle Leo's theft and finds out about his prior, the crime of passion of which his mother will not tell him the details. His parents also inform him of the senior approach; it is not stealing if you need it. Elaine plans to use the cheating angle to protect her reputation. Jerry tries to talk with Uncle Leo, but the only thing Uncle Leo tells him is that he never forgets when he's been betrayed. George discovers his book has been "flagged" in all the databases as a bathroom book. Elaine's plan goes awry when J. Peterman
J. Peterman
J. Peterman may refer to:*John Peterman, operator of the J. Peterman Company*The J. Peterman Company, an apparel company*Jacobo Peterman, a fictional version of John Peterman, portrayed by John O'Hurley on the television sitcom Seinfeld...

 demands that she help Zach get off the "yam yam" by helping him to quit cold turkey. Jerry has a nightmare about Uncle Leo. Newman and Kramer discover where the rickshaw is and Kramer loses the contest to determine who will pull the other. George tries to donate his book to charity, but even they won't take the marked book. When Kramer gets tired pulling Newman in the rickshaw up a hill and lets it go, the results are disastrous as the rickshaw runs over Elaine's "boyfriend" Zach. George plans to steal a good copy of the book, so he can return it to get his money back. Just as Jerry finds out from the manager that the manager has been told that the store needs to make a good example out of a shoplifter, any shoplifter, as long as they catch him in the act. Jerry then points out that George is shoplifting, and he gets caught.

Episode Notes

  • The thrift store clerk's name is Rebecca DeMornay, the same name as the real-life actress Rebecca De Mornay
    Rebecca De Mornay
    Rebecca De Mornay is an American film and television actress. Her breakthrough film role came in 1983, when she played Lana in Risky Business opposite Tom Cruise...

    . The same character, as played by actress Sonya Eddy
    Sonya Eddy
    Sonya Eddy is an American actress. She majored in Theatre and Dance at UC Davis and received her B.A. in 1992. Eddy is a licensed vocational nurse .-Career:...

    , also appears in "The Muffin Tops" as a homeless shelter employee.
  • Zach was played by Jonathan Penner
    Jonathan Penner
    Jonathan Lindsay Penner is an American actor, writer and film producer known for starring in The Last Supper and the television series Rude Awakening and The Naked Truth, as well as for appearing on the television show Survivor.-Life and career:Penner was born in New York City...

    , who became a contestant on Survivor: Cook Islands
    Survivor: Cook Islands
    Survivor: Cook Islands is the thirteenth season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor, having premiered on September 14, 2006...

    in 2006.
  • Jerry's dream sequence of Uncle Leo doing chin-ups in prison is an homage to the movie Cape Fear
    Cape Fear (1991 film)
    Cape Fear is a 1991 thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese and a remake of the 1962 film of the same name. It stars Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange and Juliette Lewis and features cameos from Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Martin Balsam, who all appeared in the 1962 original film...

    .
  • 5150
    5150 (Involuntary psychiatric hold)
    Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code which allows a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person deemed to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to him or her self, and/or others and/or gravely disabled...

    , the code the security officer calls in to bust Uncle Leo, is actual police code for an involuntary psychiatric hold
    5150 (Involuntary psychiatric hold)
    Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code which allows a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person deemed to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to him or her self, and/or others and/or gravely disabled...

     in California.
  • The scene with Newman rolling down the hill in the rickshaw was shot in Downtown Los Angeles. To achieve the wide shot of Newman's rickshaw rolling uncontrollably down the street, the crew hooked the rickshaw up to the back of a pickup truck and drove it down the hill, then digitally erased the truck in post-production.
  • When Kramer says to one homeless rickshaw applicant named Rusty, "I once knew a horse named Rusty", he is referring to the horse that pulled the Hansom cab
    Hansom cab
    The hansom cab is a kind of horse-drawn cart designed and patented in 1834 by Joseph Hansom, an architect from York. The vehicle was developed and tested by Hansom in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England. Originally called the Hansom safety cab, it was designed to combine speed with safety, with a low...

     in The Rye
    The Rye
    "The Rye" is the 121st episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the 11th episode for the seventh season. It aired on January 4, 1996.-Plot:...

    .
  • This episode is the first since Season 4 not to feature an additional scene during the ending credits.
  • For ending credits, the additional scene on DVD features Peterman telling Elaine to care for her friend with Elaine saying "I'm the office skank."
  • The thrift store is the Housing Works
    Housing Works
    Housing Works is a New York City based non-profit fighting the twin crises of AIDS and homelessness. The charity is well-known for its operations, which have recently included outreach to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake....

     Thrift Shop located at 306 Columbus Ave, NY, NY.

Controversy


In this episode, J. Peterman referred to opium
Opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

 as "the Chinaman
Chinaman
Chinaman is a contentious term referring to a Chinese person* whether of Han Chinese ethnicity* or a citizen of China, Chinese people.Or the term may also refer to:* A colloquial term for a square hay baler overhead feeding plunger...

's nightcap". The episode prompted many Asian American
Asian American
Asian Americans are Americans of Asian descent. The U.S. Census Bureau definition of Asians as "Asian” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan,...

 viewers, including author Maxine Hong Kingston
Maxine Hong Kingston
Maxine Hong Kingston is a Chinese American author and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with a BA in English in 1962. Kingston has written three novels and several works of non-fiction about the experiences of Chinese immigrants living in the United...

, to send letters of protest. In her letter, Kingston wrote that the term is "equivalent to nigger
Nigger
Nigger is a noun in the English language, most notable for its usage in a pejorative context to refer to black people , and also as an informal slang term, among other contexts. It is a common ethnic slur...

s for blacks
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 and kike
Kike
Kike is a derogatory slur used to refer to a Jew.-Etymology:The source of the term is uncertain. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it may be an alteration of the endings –ki or –ky common in the personal names of Jews in eastern Europe who immigrated to the United States in the early...

s for Jews". Media watchdog Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) called on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

to issue a public apology. NBC did not issue an apology, but it removed the offending term from the episode in the episode's rerun in May 1998. NBC's executive vice president for broadcast standards and content policy sent MANAA a letter stating that the network never intended to offend. MANAA was pleased with the studio's response despite the lack of an apology, and Kingston, while disappointed there was no apology, was pleased that the term was removed from the episode.

External links