The Best Sitcom Episode Ever Tournament is pitting 32 of the greatest episodes of funny TV shows ever produced against each other in a single-elimination winner-takes-all (well, takes-nothing) competition. Every day, we’re putting up episodes for you, our loyal readers, to vote on. Today: Seinfeld vs. The Simpsons.
Seinfeld — “The Contest,” November 18, 1992
Forget best sitcom episode ever — I would argue that the funniest moment from any sitcom ever is the above, when Kramer bursts in Jerry’s door, slams money down on the counter, and says “I’m out!” It still forces a belly laugh from me, even having seen this episode countless times. And what makes this moment so funny is what makes this episode so perfect: it’s an entire episode about masturbating (well, about not masturbating), but they never explicitly say what the Contest is about. So Kramer’s near-immediate failure and bold admission of such carries so much subtext that you can’t help but laugh. In one word and bold motion, we get so much about this character and so much about this show. They didn’t need to over-explain things or wring jokes out of the dirtiness of the act the episode was centered around. By playing a little bit coy, they ratcheted up the tension so when you put everything together in your head, it was just about perfect. — Adam Frucci
The Simpsons — “Marge vs. the Monorail,” January 14, 1993
There are many reasons why “Marge vs. the Monorail,” one of three Simpsons episodes solely written by Conan O’Brien, is THE episode of THE greatest sitcom of all-time — including Phil Hartman’s fast-talking monorail man, Lyle Lanley; Leonard Nimoy’s fittingly random guest appearance; “The Monorail Song”; Springfield’s quintessential mob mentality-over-reason decision; Homer’s correlation between scientists and Batman; donuts getting the well-needed PR push they’d needed for years, because really, is there anything they can’t do?; the world-expanding inclusion of Ogdenville, North Haverbrook, and Brockway; and a opossum named Bitey — but the biggest one is: it’s really fucking funny. — Josh Kurp