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George Louis Costanza is a fictional character in the American television sitcom Seinfeld (1989–1998), played by Jason Alexander. He has variously been described as a "Short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man". He is friends with Jerry Seinfeld, Cosmo Kramer, and Elaine Benes. George appears in every episode except for "The Pen" (third season). The character was originally loosely based on Seinfeld creator Larry David, but surnamed after Jerry Seinfeld's real-life New York friend, Mike Costanza.

Early life and family

George is of Italianmarker descent, and the son of Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) and Estelle Costanza (Estelle Harris). Though he never made an appearance on the show, George has mentioned that he has a brother multiple times. George's close friend Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld) described Frank and Estelle as "psychopaths", and said in "The Chinese Woman" that, if they had divorced when George was young, he "could have been normal". George also describes himself as the result of his parents having stayed together.

In the season four episode "The Junior Mint" he states he grew up in Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker, where he went to public school. In a later episode he mentions he went to high school on Long Islandmarker. He met Jerry Seinfeld in a gym locker room, and they remained friends from that point on. George and Jerry both attended John F. Kennedy High School. During their high school years, George and Jerry frequently hung out at a pizza place called Mario's Pizzas, where George would play frogger. George was picked on by his gym teacher Mr. Heyman (Biff Yeager), who intentionally mispronounced his name as "Can't stand ya" and gave him wedgies.

George has two known cousins: Shelly, who appeared in "The Contest", and Rhisa, who made an appearance in "The Junk Mail". George talks to his parents about his family in "The Money", during which it is revealed that he had an "Uncle Moe", who "died a young man" and an "Aunt Baby", who died at the age of 7 of internal problems. It is also revealed that his mother has a "Cousin Henny". In "The Doll", it is revealed that Frank Costanza was born in Italymarker and still has a cousin, Carlo, who lives there. As of the first-season episode "The Robbery", George had a living grandmother and grandfather whom he had recently visited, though it is never clarified if these were his mother's or his father's parents.

Characteristics

George is neurotic, self-loathing, and dominated by his parents. Throughout Seinfeld s first season, George was portrayed as a moderately intelligent character—at one point; he mentions an intellectual interest in the American Civil War and, in some early episodes, appears almost as a mentor to Jerry—but gets less sophisticated, to the point of being too lazy even to read a 90-page book. However, one Chicago Tribune reviewer noted that, despite of all his shortcomings, George is "pretty content with himself".

George exhibits a number of negative character traits, among them stinginess, selfishness, dishonesty, insecurity, and neurosis. Many of these traits form the basis of his involvement in various plots, schemes, and awkward social encounters. Episode plots frequently feature George manufacturing elaborate deceptions at work or in his relationships in order to gain or maintain some small or imagined advantage. He had success in "The Opposite", in which Jerry advises him to do the opposite of what his instincts tell him to do, which results in him getting a girlfriend and a job with the New York Yankees. In "The Maestro", George says "I can sense the slightest human suffering." Then Jerry asks, "Are you sensing anything right now?"

George both aligns with Elaine and Kramer in some episodes, but is also frequently pitted against them. With Elaine, he does get into arguments with her, but they also work together—most notably in the episode "The Cadillac". George and Kramer usually feel awkward with each other but started working together (and against each other) in episodes "The Busboy", "The Stall", and "The Slicer". "The Susie" is the only episode in which their relationship is as prominent as the relationships between the other characters. Some episodes, such as "The Raincoats", "The Money", "The Doorman", and "The Fusilli Jerry", would suggest that Kramer has a more comfortable rapport with George's parents than with George.

He has an affinity for nice restrooms and lush work facilities. In "The Revenge", he quits his real-estate job solely because he is forbidden to use his boss's private bathroom. In "The Busboy", he claims to have a cursory knowledge of the locations of the best bathrooms in the city. When working for the Yankees, he suggested having the bathroom-stall doors stretched all the way to the floor (allowing people's legs not to be seen while in the stalls), and, in many episodes, he shows a fascination with toilet paper and its history. He also displays a fear of diseases, such as lupus and cancer. In "The Wife", George gets into trouble for urinating in the shower at a gym but defends his action with, "It's all pipes! What's the difference?"

Although occasionally referred to as dumb by his friends, many signs point to the fact that George is actually quite an intelligent man despite his neurotic behavior. George's foolishness, and possibly the show's decision to ultimately make him an idiot, was revealed in the episode, "The Cafe", in which George had to take an IQ test and had Elaine take it for him. Apparently, George's neurotic stupidity would progress more and more through his actions and ideals, until it became one of his primary characteristics. By the season six episode "The Couch", he could not even concentrate enough to read a 90-page book (Breakfast at Tiffany's). In "The Abstinence", it is discovered that George actually has what would appear to be genius-level intelligence but that he can never access it because his mind is always so completely focused on sex. When circumstances allow him to temporarily remove sex from his mind, he is able to reach his true potential but Elaine, who also swears off sex in the same episode in a battle of wills with George, gets dumber. Despite all his negative traits, there are moments when George is capable of being brave (as in "The Marine Biologist") and responsible, though he exhibits primarily cowardice in "The Fire".

George is the only character who is not able to smoke a cigarette. He gave his Cuban cigars to Kramer in "The Wallet" after he tried and failed to smoke them himself. In another episode, "The Invitations", he attempted to end his engagement with Susan by taking up smoking, but found it was too much for him.

George's best-friendship with Jerry is arguably the main relationship in the series. Despite their trademark shallowness, there does appear to be a deep fraternal bond between Jerry and George that shows itself clearly only very rarely. At one point, George mentions his dislike for telling people he loves them, remarking casually to Jerry, "I like you; I don't tell you", to which Jerry replies, "We can only thank God for that." Likewise, once when Jerry's emotionally cold exterior gets broken and his emotions come flooding out of him, he tells George that he loves him as well, which makes George very uncomfortable, until after he tells Jerry of his greatest fears and becomes emotional himself, even though it turns Jerry "back to normal". Also, the two rarely get into a major argument with each other, perhaps the most prominent one being in "The Betrayal", when George finds out Jerry slept with the woman that George was interested in dating.

The extreme closeness of the friendship is occasionally mistaken for homosexuality. "The Outing" deals with a reporter from a New York Universitymarker college paper mistaking Jerry and George for a homosexual couple, and, in "The Cartoon", George dates someone whom Kramer insists is merely a "female Jerry". When George is forced to note to himself that the idea of a female Jerry with whom he can have a close personal relationship and also a sexual relationship would be everything he has ever wanted, George, in horror, breaks off his relationship with the woman.

In the Curb Your Enthusiasm Seinfeld Reunion, we learn that George had both gotten married and made millions in the ten years since the show ended (the millions being a result of an iPhone application called the: iToilet, directing you to the closest and best public restrooms wherever you are) - but lost both his wife and his money in the recession, the money specifically to Bernie Madoff.

Development

Seinfeld co-creator Larry David based George largely on himself. Seinfeld and David created the character as a counterpoint to Seinfeld's character. In the first draft of the show's pilot script, called Stand-Up at the time, George's name was Bennett and he, like Jerry, was a comedian. In that same draft, the scene in the pilot in which George and Jerry discuss a woman Jerry met earlier, saw George and Jerry discussing their stand-up act. This idea however, was quickly abandoned and his name was changed to George, the real estate broker instead. George's last name comes from Michael Costanza, a college classmate of Seinfeld.

Series co-creator Larry David based George on himself.
Casting director Marc Herschfield stated that, during casting for the character, " we saw every actor we could possibly see in Los Angeles", but they could not find the right actor for the part. Among the auditionees were Nathan Lane, Steve Buscemi, David Alan Grier, Brad Hall and Larry Miller. On April 3, 1989, Herschfield sent a partial script to Jason Alexander, who was in New York Citymarker at the time. Herschfield had met Alexander when he was working on the CBS sitcom E/R. Alexander enjoyed the script and felt it read like a Woody Allen film; therefore, he did a Woody Allen impression on his audition tape, he also bought a pair of glasses to resemble the character more. Though Alexander thought his audition was "a complete waste of time", both David and Seinfeld were impressed; Seinfeld stated "the second we saw him, like two lines out of his mouth, we went 'That's the guy'". On April 10, 1989 at 9:00 A.M. Alexander did his first official audition and met David and Seinfeld. While in the waiting room for his final audition, Alexander saw that Larry Miller was also auditioning. Alexander was aware that Miller and Seinfeld were very good friends, therefore he figured that he would not get the part. After his final audition he returned to New York City, and when he landed he received a phone call informing him that he was hired. During the show's run David was frequently asked why he did not play the character himself, he replied that he only wanted to write and had simply no desire to portray the character.

Many of George's predicaments were based on David's past real-life experiences; in "The Revenge", for example, when George quits his job in a fury only to realize he has made a mistake, he goes back the next day as if nothing happened. This mirrors David's actions while working as a writer for Saturday Night Live, when he quit and then returned to his job in the same manner. As the show progressed, Alexander discovered that the character was based on David. As Alexander explains in an interview for the Seinfeld DVD, during an early conversation with David, Alexander questioned a script, saying, "This could never happen to anyone, and even if it did, no human being would react like this." David replied, "What do you mean? This happened to me once, and this is exactly how I reacted!"

In 1998 Michael Costanza sued the show for US$100,000,000 claiming that he never gave permission for his name to be used and that, because of the character's appearance and behaviour, he was not treated with respect. Costanza lost the suit, as the New York Supreme Court (the trial court in the State of New York court system)unanimously decided that Seinfeld and David " did not violate Michael Costanza's privacy rights when they created the character".

Family and background

Susan

George becomes engaged to Susan Biddle Ross, a wealthy executive at NBC who approved Jerry and George's show-within-a-show sitcom pilot. George and Susan date for a year, during which time the commitment-phobic George is constantly trying to find ways to end their relationship without actually having to initiate the breakup with her. In "The Engagement", he proposes to her in a short-lived bout of midlife crisis, after he and Jerry make a pact to move forward with their lives. When Jerry breaks up with his girlfriend and declares the deal over, George panics and again tries repeatedly to weasel out of his engagement. He gets his wish about two weeks before the wedding in "The Invitations", when he inadvertently causes her death by selecting cheap envelopes for their wedding invitations, not knowing they contained toxic glue. When notified of her death at the hospital, George displays a combination of shock, apathy, and relief (described by the doctor in part two of The Finale as "restrained jubilation"). A few moments after being notified of Susan's passing, he says to Jerry, Kramer, and Elaine, "Well, let's go get some coffee." Susan's parents, never knowing the specifics behind her poisoning but suspecting that George was somehow involved, never forgive him for this, and they appoint him to the board of directors of the Susan Ross Foundation to keep him trapped under their influence and to ensure that he would never get any of Susan's inheritance.

Girlfriends

George is very bad at picking up women and his relationships usually end badly. George also dated other women throughout the series:
  • His two dates, Maura (who refuses to break up) and Loretta (who will not make love in "The Strongbox"), make it hard for George to break up.
  • In "The Cadillac", George dates a celebrity, Marisa Tomei, in the park for a short time and gets punched after revealing that he is engaged.
  • In "The Cafe", George dates Monica, who tests George in an IQ test. Apparently, after letting Elaine help him cheat, the end result is the test being spilled with food, and he is left to explain about the mess on the IQ test.
  • In "The Nose Job", George dates Audrey, who has a big nose, until he, Jerry, and Elaine are shocked when Kramer suggests that she get a nose job.
  • In "The Red Dot", by accident, George dates Evie, a cleaning woman who works at Pendant Publishing by sharing Hennigans.
  • In "The Conversion", George willingly converts to the Latvian Orthodox faith for his girlfriend, Sasha, after Elaine mentions that it would be romantic, only to learn after completing the conversion that Sasha is going to Latviamarker.
  • In "The Boyfriend", George dates Carrie, the daughter of his unemployment-office rep, Mrs. Sokol, in order to get an extension on his unemployment.
  • In "The Good Samaritan", George dates Robin after he says "God bless you" to her.
  • In "The Outing", George dates Allison, who is having a breakdown. He tries to show that he is gay, but it fails.
  • In "The Cartoon", George dates Janet, whom Kramer openly says looks like Jerry.
  • In "The Blood", George dates Tara, who also likes to add food as a part of her sex life.


In the Curb Your Enthusiasm Seinfeld Reunion, George has married (and divorced) a woman named Amanda in the time in between the finale and the reunion.

Professional life

George's professional life is unstable. He is unable to remain in any job for any great length of time before making an embarrassing blunder and getting fired. Very often, the blunder is lying and trying to cover it up, only to have it all fall apart.

Over the course of the series, he works for a real estate–transaction services firm (Rick Bahr Properties), a rest stop–supply company (Sanalac), Elaine's company (Pendant Publishing), the New York Yankees (his longest running job), a playground-equipment company (Play Now), an industrial smoothing company (Kruger Industrial Smoothing), and other places. He is fired from his job at Pendant Publishing for having sex with the cleaning woman on his desk in "The Red Dot" (he professes he has always been attracted to cleaning women).

His original job when the series starts is as a real estate agent; he ends up quitting. It was never explained why George would be able to collect unemployment when he quits his job without any good reason. He always wanted be an architect; he first desires to be one in "The Stake Out", and he claims in "The Race" that he had designed "the new addition to the Guggenheimmarker". In "The Van Buren Boys", he denies his young protégé a scholarship from the Susan Ross Foundation when the young man decides he no longer wants to be an architect and wants to become a city planner instead. In "The Marine Biologist", Jerry tells a woman whom George wanted to impress that George is a marine biologist. The plan backfires when George is called upon to save a beached whale with a Titleist golf ball in its blowhole. He saves the whale, but the woman tells him off when he confesses that he is not, in fact, a marine biologist; "she told me to go to hell, and I took the bus home."

During the fourth season of the series, George gains experience as a sitcom writer as he helps Jerry to write the pilot for the fictitious show Jerry. While pitching the concept of a "show about nothing" to NBC executives, George dates executive Susan until The Virgin, when she is fired. Following the first and last episode ("The Pilot"), executive Russel's obsession with Elaine has cost George and Jerry a shot at getting a TV series.

According to the Curb Your Enthusiasm Seinfeld Reunion, George has become a multi-millionaire by inventing an iPhone application called "iToilet," which would point the user in the direction of the nearest accessible toilet, wherever they were in the world. He trusted his entire fortune to Bernie Madoff, and after his divorce, lost his entire half of the money. However, his ex-wife Amanda withdrew her money before the scandal, having been creeped out by a quilted jacket with a popped collar that she spotted Madoff wearing one day.

Fashion and hairstyle

George is known for his balding hair, which is not as noticeable in the pilot episode "The Seinfeld Chronicles," but gets thinner as the series progresses. In "The Scofflaw", he begins to wear a toupee, until Elaine throws it out the window out of disgust. He also attempts to restore his hair in "The Tape", when he begins using a Chinese cream that is said to cure baldness. His hair is rarely seen styled. His clothes are usually very plain. He frequently wears jeans. In "The Pilot", George wears sweatpants; Jerry says that this makes George look like he has given up on life. In "The Subway", when his clothes are taken, he goes to the coffee shop with a blanket. In "The Muffin Tops", his clothes are taken once again. "The Gum" has him dressed as Henry the Eighth, which, along with a tuxedo in "The Opera", are the only times he is seen entirely apart from his drab attire. George has, however, mentioned that his clothing is color coded based on his mood. Jerry asks him what mood he is in, and George replies, "Morning mist" (The Trip). Several times throughout the show, George mentions how he would love to dress all in velvet, which he does in one episode. In the episode "The Bizarro Jerry", George can be seen styling his hair based on a Dennis Franz poster.

Pseudonyms

  • Art Vandelay first appears in the episode "The Stake Out", in which George and Jerry need an excuse to give to a woman as to why they are waiting in the lobby of the office building where she worked. Their excuse is that they were meeting Art Vandelay, an importer-exporter who works in the same building, for lunch. In one instance ("The Boyfriend"), George tells the unemployment office he is close to getting a job at "Vandelay Industries". The name is also used as a fake boyfriend of Elaine. Here, Art is an importer/exporter and used as a cover story for when George is going on a date with Marisa Tomei, claiming that George and Elaine are meeting to discuss a problem with her boyfriend so that Susan does not think that George is having an affair ("The Cadillac"). George also uses the pseudonym when interviewing for a job with Elaine's boss in "The Red Dot". When asked which authors he reads, the answer is "Art Vandelay" from New York. In "The Serenity Now", George calls up fake customers, one of whom is "Mr. Vandelay", pretending to get computer orders. In "The Bizarro Jerry", George goes to an office and asks for Mr. Vandelay as part of a setup to approach an attractive secretary. Finally, in "The Puerto Rican Day", George pretends to be Vandelay (along with Jerry as Kel Varnsen and Kramer as Pennypacker) to try to sneak into an open house to watch a Mets game that they had left because the team was getting blown out. In the episode "The Finale", the name of the presiding judge is actually Arthur Vandelay, much to George's amazement. George says he thinks it is "good luck" that that is the judge's name.
  • During the seventh season ("The Pool Guy"), George reveals he has two distinct personas, Relationship George and Independent George. Relationship George, he explains, is the conscientious personality he feels forced to adopt in the presence of his fianceé, Susan. Independent George, on the other hand, is the "real" George. Independent George is composed of a subset of personalities, such as Movie George, Coffee Shop George, Liar George, and Bawdy George. Independent George is the George that Jerry knows and grew up with. George worries that if Susan starts socializing with the group, his two worlds will irrevocably collide, resulting in Relationship George "killing" Independent George. Paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, he declares, "A George divided against itself cannot stand!"
  • At one point ("The Maid"), George wants to be known as T-Bone, but his co-workers at Kruger Industrial Smoothing nickname him Koko because of the way he had flailed his arms when demanding the nickname "T-Bone" back from a coworker. George deliberately hires a woman named Coco to work there, only to be nicknamed Gammy instead.
  • George has also mentioned to Jerry that, should he become a porn star, his name would be "Buck Naked."


Reception

George, along with the three other main characters of the show, were ranked sixth on cable television channel Bravo's list of the "100 Greatest TV Characters". In a list of the "50 Greatest Sidekicks" compiled by Entertainment Weekly, George was placed third behind Robin from the Batman franchise and Ed McMahon, who co-hosted The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson from 1962 to 1992. On a The Times Union list of the 50 greatest sitcom characters of all time, George was ranked third, behind Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) from I Love Lucy and Barney Fife (Don Knotts) from The Andy Griffith Show. TV Guide published a list of the 50 best characters in television history in 1999 on which George was ranked 43rd. The People called George the greatest television character on a list of the 100 best television characters. British actor Ricky Gervais and British newspaper The Guardian have both called George "the greatest sitcom character of all time".

For his performance as George, Alexander has been nominated for various awards. In 1992 he received his first Primetime Emmy Award nomination in the category Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, however, he lost the award to Michael Jeter for Evening Shade. He received nominations in the same category the following six years, but failed to win each year. In addition, Alexander was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards, in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1998, in the Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television category, but never won the award. In 1995 Alexander received the Screen Actors Giuld Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series, he also shared the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series with Seinfeld, Louis-Dreyfus and Richards. From 1996 through 1998 Alexander was nominated in the same two categories,

co-winning the ensemble award in 1997 and 1998.

In 1999 he was nominated for in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series for the last time, but lost to Michael J.

Fox for his portrayal of Micheal Flaherty on Spin City.

In 1992 and 1993 Alexander won the American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Male Performer in a TV Series.

He was also nominated for the award in 1996 (with Richards) and 1999, but did not win again.


References

Explanatory notes
  1. From "The Puffy Shirt" to "The Opposite" George lives with his parents at 1344 Queens Boulevard (his parents' address is revealed in "The Cigar Store Indian")


Citations
  1. http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/seinfeld/episode_guide/?sl=episode&ep=710


External links


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