Read Billy Domineau’s Seinfeld episode about 9/11.

This Seinfeld Episode about 9/11 Is a Model of Comedy Writing and Monumentally Bad Taste

This Seinfeld Episode about 9/11 Is a Model of Comedy Writing and Monumentally Bad Taste

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 3 2016 9:36 PM

This Seinfeld Episode about 9/11 Is a Model of Comedy Writing and Monumentally Bad Taste

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Just think how many Emmys they would have won for this very special episode!

Scott Flynn/AFP/Getty Images

Some ideas are so inherently offensive they should never see the light of day—showing up at a Friars Club Roast in blackface, say, or offering Republicans a Supreme Court nomination as a reward for nominating a fascist lunatic. But occasionally, the dial on the Bad-Taste-O-Meter spins all the way back around to zero and an idea becomes so terrible it’s actually brilliant. Comedy writer Billy Domineau pulled off that extraordinary feat Tuesday morning, when he unleashed his original Seinfeld spec script, “The Twin Towers,” on an unsuspecting world. He announced his handiwork on Twitter:

Seinfeld aired its finale in 1998, and most television shows removed references to the World Trade Center rather than directly addressing the attacks, so a Seinfeld 9/11 episode isn’t just a bad idea but an ahistorical one. And Domineau wasn’t the first person to have it: Believe it or not, more than one person has edited Seinfeld’s peppy bass riff over footage of the attacks. He’s just the first person to execute it so perfectly that all the bad taste is subsumed by graveyard humor.

“The Twin Towers,” in which Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer face the days immediately after 9/11 with their usual petty selfishness, would be overcome by its hopelessly offensive concept if it were just an average Seinfeld episode. But it’s a great Seinfeld episode, filled with the tics and riffs that made the show work without quite crossing the line into parody. There’s no hugging and there’s no learning, but that’s the easy part. The virtuoso stuff is how well each character’s subplot fits them and the way Domineau pulls off the structure, storylines converging like clockwork in a finale that still manages to surprise. What’s more, it’s not a version of “The Aristocrats,” piling on the shock and disgust until things are so offensive you can’t help but laugh: The jokes and gags are all well within Seinfeld’s normal wheelhouse and would clear NBC’s standards and practices circa 2001. Except for the fact that, well, you know.

Domineau is a member of sketch comedy group Gentlemen Party and a freelancer for Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update,” according to the Comic’s Comic, which first reported on the script. On the strength of this exercise in spectacularly bad taste, with any luck he’ll soon be staffed on a show that would benefit from an arsenic injection. Download Domineau’s script or read it below.