What is it with “Seinfeld” anyway?
You have four grousing, self-absorbed New Yorkers who cheat on their friends, lie to their parents, act rude to strangers and try every urban scam known to man and people can’t get enough of them.
I just don’t get it. Just look at the name: “Seinfeld.” It’s so impersonal and pretentious. “Seinfeld.” The only titles that had surnames were detective types: “Baretta.” “Kojak.” “Matlock.” “Benson.” (Well, never mind about Benson.) Who does Jerry Seinfeld think he is? I mean, you let someone into your living room every week, and you call him by his last name like you guys were sharing a locker room. “Roseanne” and “Ellen, ” they let audiences call them by their first name. Those women opened up their families, their hearts and their closets.
Still, people love “Seinfeld.” Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, George. These people can’t even get along with each other. They barely function in impolite society. Remember their lowest point, when George’s fiancee died of glue poisoning after licking the wedding invitation envelopes? George practically whooped and hollered he was glad to be free. Now, if you were George’s friend, wouldn’t you be a little bereaved? And if you weren’t, wouldn’t you call the cops? Get a toxicology report on all his stationery? You couldn’t go to Hallmark or the post office with this man and feel safe.
And that whole premise of making something out of nothing. You couldn’t stand it when your mother did that, but you’ll camp out for 30 minutes to hear those four go on and on. What, you want an example? Of nothing? That’s the sneaky thing about “Seinfeld.” Someone asks you, “Why don’t you like the show?” and you say, “It’s about nothing, ” and they say, “What do you mean, it’s about nothing? Give me an example.” What can you say? Nothing.
I will tell you one thing. “Seinfeld” has the whining yuppie-angst of “Thirtysomething” and the kooky mix-ups of “Three’s Company.” Think about it. Jerry is Jack, Elaine is Janet, George is Larry and Kramer is Chrissy. They would have had no wacky scenario if they just told the truth or stopped dwelling on themselves for more than one nanosecond.
But that’s what makes it so funny, the masses claim. Why, the gut just about busts at the entire existentialism of it all. It’s cotton-candy Camus, sugar-whipped into a frenzy over life’s random pointlessness. Sure, they’re selfish and self-centered, but it’s all projection. People like laughing at the little niggling events that wear us down to a pulp everyday. Whether people create those situations themselves hey, as long as someone else suffers, who’s hurt? Everything isn’t a lesson in life, you know.
At least not with Jerry Seinfeld, the Peter Pan of angst. There is one good thing about that show: It’s over. Ain’t that a knee slapper.
This article originally appeared in the Contra Costa Times