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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Seinfeld: The Ultimate Population Episode

Air Date: Week of May 8, 1998

TV's Jerry Seinfeld, and his neurotic, self-absorbed pals, Kramer, George and Elaine make their exit in an episode that's not about "nothing" but is about an important environmental issue. Here to explain the plot line to Steve Curwood is Kenny Byerly, a senior at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, California who won an essay contest of the group Zero Population Growth by writing this fictitious Seinfeld episode.

Transcript

CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood. It's been hard to avoid hearing that the last episode of the hit comedy series Seinfeld airs May 14th on NBC. The producers and cast of the show have gone to great lengths to keep the finale story line a secret. But we here at Living on Earth have cracked the vault! And we were surprised by what we found. Jerry Seinfeld and his neurotic, self-absorbed pals Kramer, Elaine, and George make their exit in an episode not about nothing but about an important environmental issue. Here to explain the plot is Kenny Byerly, a senior at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, California.

BYERLY: It starts when Elaine meets an environmentally-conscious man who's worried about overpopulation on Earth. And Elaine starts going out with him. And when they get back to Jerry's apartment, they tell Kramer about overpopulation and that by the beginning of next year there will be 6 billion people on earth. And Kramer gets excited and he wants to be the father of the 6 billionth child.

CURWOOD: Kramer wants to be the father of the 6 billionth child? (Laughs)

BYERLY: Yeah, he thinks it would be really neat. So he runs off, he tries to find a way to do it, and then Jerry goes on a date with his new girlfriend and he finds out that she has a really big family. And since Jerry's just learned all this stuff about overpopulation, it's really bothering him. He's thinking how can they have such a big family? What's going on here? Then George has a lot of problems and they're all caused by the city being overpopulated. And George can't find parking, and when he rides the subway it's too crowded and he gets to work, there's not enough coffee at the meeting. And he's gradually growing more and more frustrated with it.

CURWOOD: Well, what about Kramer? I mean, he's still trying to make this 6th billion baby, huh?

BYERLY: Well Kramer first tries to do this by picking up women so that he can find a mother for the child. But Jerry eventually convinces him that that's not a good idea. So Kramer starts making heavy donations to a sperm bank. (Curwood laughs) Meanwhile, George has become so frustrated with overpopulation that he goes and has Elaine introduce him to her boyfriend, and her boyfriend runs an activist group that's trying to spread awareness about overpopulation. And so George goes with this group, and they go to demonstrate in front of the sperm bank to try to promote adoption as an alternative. And so they're in front of the sperm bank and Kramer tries to go in, (Curwood laughs) and then Elaine's boyfriend confronts him, and Kramer refuses to back down. And they get into a big fight and then all the protesters get arrested, including George. And then he's put into a crowded prison cell.

CURWOOD: (Laughs) The jail is crowded, too, huh?

BYERLY: Yeah.

CURWOOD: (Laughs) So, you've got to tell me, Kenny Byerly, this is, of course, the secret final Seinfeld episode that everyone's been waiting for, right?

BYERLY: Shhh, shhh, shhh!

CURWOOD: (Laughs) Now I suppose we should tell people who are listening that you wrote this treatment for this episode of Seinfeld as part of a contest that was sponsored by the environmental group -- let me guess here -- Zero Population Growth. And you're the big winner.

BYERLY: That's right.

CURWOOD: Well, congratulations.

BYERLY: Thank you very much.

CURWOOD: You know, one of the things about Seinfeld, that strikes me, and I suspect everybody who watches it -- I mean, these people seem like completely into this narcissistic trip. I mean they just love themselves and they don't have a whole lot of room for anything else in the world. And they're neurotic in sort of that lovable New York way.

BYERLY: You're right. And that's one of the things that made it so interesting is, here are these people who are so self-absorbed, they're usually all caught up in their own trivial problems. But how can I make it so that overpopulation can become a part of their trivial problems and then make it something that they would worry about without straying from the characters in the show?

CURWOOD: And so you grabbed the issue of conceit of childhood, you know, well I'll just have the 6th billionth baby, that's how I'll deal with it.

BYERLY: That was a stroke of genius. I don't know how I thought of that.

CURWOOD: (Laughs) Now, how did you get into this contest? I mean, were you worried about population before you heard about the contest?

BYERLY: No. In fact, population, it's a problem that hasn't gotten a lot of publicity lately. Like, back in the 60s and 70s everybody was worried about the population explosion and such. But nowadays you don't really hear much about it at all. And so I didn't really know anything about it. But my friend came to me and she said, "Oh, I saw this contest on the drama teacher's desk. It's about writing a TV show. You could write a Seinfeld." Because she knows that I like Seinfeld a lot. So I went to the teacher and I asked her about it, and she gave me the information.

CURWOOD: If you can think of a good comedy sketch for an environmental radio show give us a call.

BYERLY: Okay.

CURWOOD: The number's 800-218-9988. Kenny Byerly is winner of an essay contest sponsored by Zero Population Growth and a senior at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, California. Thanks for taking this time with us today.

BYERLY: Thank you.

 

 

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