Shortly before my exam, we finished watching all nine seasons of Seinfeld. It took us about two months of two to four episodes per night. It’s one of Matt’s favourite shows, while I had never watched one single episode. I had my doubts about it but by the second season, I was already hooked!
The show – which aired for the first time in 1989 – was written by two friends; stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld and writer Larry David. Set in New York, it is based on their real-life experiences with friends and acquaintances and revolves around the life of – you guessed it – Jerry Seinfeld. Larry David was turned into George Costanza (played by Jason Alexander), Jerry’s self-loathing, idiotic friend. There are also Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Jerry’s confident ex-girlfriend/friend, and Kramer (Michael Richards), Jerry’s goofy, hipster neighbour.
We see these four characters interact with each other and with several other people, both socially and romantically. While each of them has traits that make them appear funny, in reality, there are more negative qualities coming out through their social relationships. You’ll laugh at their experiences, which are often bad, but you’ll never feel real sympathy for them. Over time, the audience learns how selfish, fickle and judgmental they all are. The show’s finale highlights this negativity when a number of minor characters make a comeback and various past instances are replayed in flashbacks, showing the main characters’ bad personality traits. The ending came as a surprise but at the same time, it seemed like the outcome the characters deserved. It is probably the pinnacle of the dark humour that permeated throughout all the nine seasons.
Check This Out: 25 Yada Yada Yada Facts About ‘Seinfeld’(Mental Floss)
Seinfeld has also been called “a show about nothing” but that is just a joke from the show. Jerry said that it’s about the ways he gets his jokes from, that is from his own life experiences. In fact, for most of the seasons, the episodes start and end with Jerry on stage during his stand-up shows, telling jokes – the kind of “Did you ever notice…” and “What’s the deal with…” jokes – related to what is happening during the episode.
Season 4 had probably the most interesting story arc when Jerry and George manage to approach NBC with an idea for a tv show. This is where the “show about nothing” line comes from. It’s the highest form of self-reference. That season’s finale, when their show Jerry is aired for the first time, was kind of surreal, with actors interpreting Seinfeld’s friends. This example of metafiction is probably what made Seinfeld stand out so much from other 90’s shows.
As a late follower of this show, I’ve encountered numerous actors in minor or recurring roles who were unknown at the time but who would become stars of their own tv shows in the future. I was amused to spot Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson (Gilmore Girls), Courtney Cox (Friends), Teri Hatcher and Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives), Debra Messing (Will & Grace) and Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad).
Check This Out: 25 Future Stars Who Appeared on ‘Seinfeld’ (Mental Floss)
The younger generation who has watched Seinfeld in the present (Hulu recently started streaming all seasons online) is perhaps also unable to get many of the cultural references in the show. Even I did not know that certain people and events mentioned, like the Bubble Boy or the Soup Nazi, existed or happened in real life.
With the main characters being quite liberal and hip, I wonder what they would have looked and acted like if the show was set in the 2010s. Seinfeld originally aired throughout almost all the 90’s so, in a way, the younger viewers can see the progress made in that particular decade. So I wonder how Jerry and his friends would have been like, had they been younger and living in the present. Would they be Internet addicts? Would they own a selfie stick?
Check This Out: 20 ‘Seinfeld’ Cultural References Explained for Younger Viewers (Mental Floss)
We will not see Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George together anytime soon but they did make a comeback in recent years, on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. That’s got to be one of the next shows to watch!