Seinfeld: Billy Domineau talks September 11 spec script
Writer and comedian Billy Domineau has stumbled into viral fame after posting a Seinfeld spec script that imagines how its well-known sitcom characters would have reacted to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The 44-page episode, titled “The Twin Towers,” perfectly channels what Domineau sees as the “nihilistic, no-hugging-no-learning nature of the show” by focusing on how the core characters each react selfishly to the national catastrophe: Jerry develops a paranoia about dust, Elaine tries to break up with a survivor she’s seeing, George masquerades as a first responder, and Kramer discovers his friend was one of the terrorists behind the attacks.
It’s certainly a shocking subject matter, but one that Domineau says he was very careful to write about in a non-offensive way and contextualized in the voice of the show.
“9/11 has always been this thing that is so firmly held in our collective consciousness and I think we’re all sort of wondering at different times, ‘What is appropriate? How soon is too soon?’ — stuff like that. And I’ve always been tempted to find out what the line is with it,” Domineau tells EW. “Especially when I started writing this, it was less about where the line was or how far could I go, than how can I actually make this something that is ultimately not offensive, that goes up to the line but is actually no way intended to attack the issue, but to actually find ways to make positive light of it, and just in the context of the show.”
Domineau concedes that his episode’s dark comedy wouldn’t have worked had it actually aired in the weeks following Sept. 11. “I don’t think it could’ve possibly worked in the week or two afterwards,” Domineau said. “Ultimately, the rule I set for myself was: They couldn’t have written this show, but frankly they should have found some way to address it, and if they were going to address it honestly in their own voice, that’s the tone I want to hit with this. Sort of the episode that should’ve existed, but for all the million reasons couldn’t.”
So who or what put this idea into Domineau’s head nearly 20 years after Seinfeld ended in 1998? A student of his. Domineau — whose Twitter bio says he has contributed to Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update and The Onion — is also a tutor. The idea came to him while helping a client craft a sketch for her class.
“She needed to write an exercise in bad taste, sort of no-holds-barred,” Domineau recalled. “I eventually said, ‘Imagine if there was a 9/11 episode of Seinfeld‘ and then I just sort of paused for a second and went, ‘Oh OK, that’s actually something that needs to happen.’ We came up with most of the plotlines right then and there and I was even saying, ‘Hey if you want to write this up as a sketch for your class, go do it, but do it this week. Otherwise I’m going to do something with it and keep it for myself.’ Luckily, probably for the sake of the sketch class, she had the good sense to not try to go that far, but it’s something that as soon as it popped into my brain, I went, ‘Oh that is something that I actually really want to try to do.’”
In the months after that initial idea, Domineau rewatched some of his favorite Seinfeld episodes (including “The Opposite,” “The Conversion,” and “The Secret Code”) to help get the story structure just right, and finally posted his finished product on Aug. 2.
Reps for Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander declined EW’s requests for comment on the script. Reps for Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards did not immediately respond to EW’s requests for comment.
Read Domineau’s spec script below.