Ladies We'd Like to Bring to Life: Elaine Benes

Posted at 8:30 AM Aug 12, 2009

By Geoff George


So, as the ol' internship winds down, I wanted to try and think of my favorite city gal, the one makin' it on her own in a bustling metropolis. And call me a child of the 90's if you want, but while I can understand picking Carrie Bradshaw or Mary Tyler Moore, my own loyalties fall more in line with Seinfeld's Elaine Benes. Cue that funky synthesizer.

Introduced as Jerry's ex-girlfriend, brought in because executives didn't think the show would work without a female presence (yeah, I've watched a DVD commentary or two), Elaine offers the show's only womanly vantage point into the painfully self-aware, revolving-door dating world of New York City. She's burst a lot of bubbles at that booth in Monk's Café, including Jerry's concept of the female orgasm.

Check out that hair ... what is that? Some sort of 90's bouffant?

What's great is that in a sitcom that carries itself as having nothing to prove, Elaine represents an incredibly casual sort of feminism. She mentions being pro-choice once, but for the most part her views and accomplishments are only there if you're looking for 'em. Her jobs in the publishing world are better than George or Kramer's, and they're steadier than Jerry's lounge gigs. She has none of the standard female sitcom panics about having babies or not getting married before a certain age. And she sees men without being chided over the phone by some screechy mother figure for sleeping around and not settling down.

Basically, the idea of a single, successful working woman who freely dates while talking relationships with her guy friends is seen in the world of Seinfeld as given, obvious, and rarely worth commenting on. Plus, it's way funny. Only Elaine could take the time to coldly calculate the "sponge worthiness" of her date.

So, whether she's failing to break things off with Puddy, finding Mr. Pitt a proper pair of socks, writing J. Peterman's memoirs, sending another bra to Sue Ellen Mischke or breaking into a box of Jujyfruits at the wrong time, here's a muffin-top toast to Elaine Benes, the woman amongst boys.


kris said:

I dunno, while I agree with your write-up, I'd be wary of bringing any of that cast to life. We are talking self absorbed sociopaths who regularly cause no amount of problems for other people. While it does depend on who's writing the episode, Elaine has veered into "how is this woman not in jail" territory on occasion.

Although not nearly as much as George, who just gets so annoying I can't even watch the episode anymore a few times. Neurotic, funny. Man child, funny. Incapable of functioning in adult society, funny. Borderline sociopath throwing a temper tantrum? Just painful to watch.

Kitty said:

I thought she was pro-choice. Didn't she break up with the mover guy over that and fight with Poppie about it too? Anyway, I agree that she's a good female TV character.

Scott said:

She was definitely pro-choice, most likely a typo.

The Elaine from the first couple of seasons was an admirable awesome female TV chracter, unfortunately she turned into the same waste of humanity as the rest of the cast as the writing got lazier and meaner.

Mjx said:

And she couldn't dance... but she did. Gotta respect that ;)

(Well, I'm addressing THIS post, and not the weightier ones, because my responses to the latter could be boiled down to 'oh shit, we're doomed as a species'.)

Scott said:

@Mjx After being forced to watch 'The Ugly Truth' yesterday, I can only agree with your final sentence.

SJwashere said:

One of my favourite female characters, great choice!

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