“The Van Buren Boys” is the 148th episode of the sitcom Seinfeld. This was the 14th episode for the 8th season. It aired on February 6, 1997. It was written by Darin Henry and was directed by Andy Ackerman.


Jerry's girlfriend, Ellen (Christine Taylor) seems perfect in every way, but Jerry notices that she doesn't seem to have many friends and becomes alarmed that he's dating a loser. George interviews candidates for "The Foundation's" first scholarship. All the candidates seem over-qualified and cocky, until one comes in who is a lot like he was, a below-average student and underachiever. Elaine is going to ghost write Peterman's autobiography. Kramer goes to Lorenzo's Pizzeria, where he has an encounter with "The Van Buren Boys", a fictional street gang. He accidentally flashes their gang sign (the number 8, as Martin Van Buren was the eighth president and the man they most admire) and saves himself. Meanwhile, Peterman wants his day-to-day life covered in his bio; the exotic adventures are for the catalog since his own day-to-day life is very boring. Elaine tells Peterman about Kramer's encounter with the gang and he suggests buying the story for his autobiography.

George's choice, Steven Koren, makes a change in his plans that causes George to disqualify him from the scholarship. Steven had been telling people he wanted to be an architect, the very dream George fictitiously tells people is his occupation. One day, however, Steven decides he could do better and remarks to that he'd like to be a city planner. George is outraged that this slacker feels he could do better than an architect, George's dream job.

However, Kramer sells Peterman all of his stories for $750. Elaine is put at his disposal, much to her dismay. To Elaine, Kramer's stories aren't much more interesting, and most make very little sense. George and Kramer perform an intervention on Jerry's relationship with Ellen. Steven joins the Van Buren boys, who apply pressure on George to get the scholarship back. Elaine tells Kramer that he can no longer tell his stories, since they now belong to Peterman. Elaine tries to embellish Kramer's stories, but Peterman finds the rewrites "too cliché and obvious." She tells him the real Kramer story that he finds much more interesting. He tells Kramer (who had actually called to ask for the return of his stories) that he can have his stories back. George tries to save himself from the Van Buren boys, by asking Kramer how he got out of the similar situation. At the time, Kramer couldn't tell George because that story belonged to Peterman. Kramer mentions in passing that "the Van B. Boys" never bother their own kind. Jerry flies his parents in to get their impression of Ellen. Once he sees that his parents both like Ellen very much, begins to see the light; reasoning that if they like her, then there must be something wrong with her. The episode finishes with George trying to prove to the Van Buren Boys that he is a former member of theirs by attempting (and failing) to take the wallet of Jerry's parents as they happen to walk by. The last shot is of him running away from the gang, after attempting (also in vain) to show them the "sign", which he doesn't know.

Notes About Nothing

  • The kid who gets the scholarship is named Steven Koren, which is the name of a Seinfeld writer.
  • Jerry's line "This is like that Twilight Zone where the guy wakes up, and he's the same - but everyone else is different!" is an allusion to the episode "Person or Persons Unknown", where the main character wakes up in a world where no one remembers him.
Season Eight Episodes
The Foundation | The Soul Mate | The Bizarro Jerry | The Little Kicks | The Package | The Fatigues | The Checks | The Chicken Roaster | The Abstinence | The Andrea Doria | The Little Jerry | The Money | The Comeback | The Van Buren Boys | The Susie | The Pothole | The English Patient | The Nap | The Yada Yada | The Millennium | The Muffin Tops | The Summer of George
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