More Seinfeld, Please
By Samuel Moore-Sobel
Some television shows take on a life of their own.
Seinfeld was never expected to be a hit. There was no guarantee that there would even be a sitcom in the first place. Apparently, Jerry Seinfeld only got a meeting with network executives because of the repeated efforts of his manager, George Shapiro. “Seinfeld hadn’t the first idea what he’d do on television – his main career plan was to be a stand-up comedian for as long as he could,” writes Jennifer Keishin Armstrong in her book, Seinfeldia.
More Seinfeld tidbits and trivia are sprinkled throughout the book. Originally, the title for the pilot episode of the show was The Seinfeld Chronicles. The character Kramer was based on Larry David’s real-life neighbor, a man named Kenny Kramer. Joe Davola – who appears in season 4 – was a real-life executive at Fox, who apparently was nothing like the character on the show. Larry David simply liked the name, Joe Davola, and wanted to include it in the show.
Reading the book Seinfeldia was a delight, mainly because Seinfeld is one of my favorite shows. There are so many memorable episodes. Some of my favorites include The Chinese Restaurant, The Strike, and The Slicer. My brother and I still recite lines from time to time, such as Kramer’s memorable line, “These pretzels are making me thirsty.” Another favorite is in Season 6 Episode 4, when Frank Constanza (Jerry Stiller), in conversation with George Constanza (Jason Alexander), claps his hands and loudly exclaims, “How could Jerry not say hello!”
For us, the family relationships on the show felt familiar. We had relatives like Uncle Leo, who would repeatedly insist on the importance of saying “hello!” The observations made on the show were so relatable. Who hasn’t answered a telemarketer call and wanted to say what Jerry says in Season 4 Episode 3, “I can’t talk right now, why don’t you give me your home number and I’ll call you later?”
These episodes permeated my life as a teenager. Yet I didn’t start watching Seinfeld until the mid-2010s, long after the show’s finale aired in 1998.
What’s fascinating about Seinfeld is the show’s resonance even decades after being off the air. “Even as fans grumbled over the finale, they found comfort in watching Seinfeld after work, with dinner, during sleepless nights,” Armstrong writes.
I fell into this category, watching episodes in the evenings after a long day. These days, I still watch episodes on Hulu. Watching Seinfeld feels familiar and fresh at the same time. The episodes are layered enough to experience a whole new meaning the second, third, or fourth time around. There is an element of the show that encapsulates the human experience, even as modern technology has advanced far beyond the landlines, taxi cabs, and payphones that fill the scenes of many episodes.
Jerry Seinfeld famously turned down an offer to produce a tenth season of the show (despite reportedly being offered $5 million dollars an episode). Selfishly, I wish Seinfeld had decided otherwise. Think of all the plotlines that remain unwritten. What about Kramer trying to use a computer for the first time? Or George going to work for another sports team, maybe the New York Giants? We get a taste of what could have been while watching the “Seinfeld reunion show” that took place over a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2009 (where in my humble opinion, they finally got the finale right). But alas, it was not meant to be. We’ll never know what would have happened if Seinfeld lived on for a few more seasons.
Regardless, fans can still catch re-runs and dissect the true meaning of each episode. The internet abounds with blogs dedicated to exploring the show. Seinfeld has even spawned Twitter accounts with large followings – such as Seinfeld2000 (283.9k followers) and SeinfeldToday (731.6k followers).
While the show may be over, it lives on through pop culture references, social media, blogs, and in our daily lives. Reading Seinfeldia reminded me once again of how unprecedented the success of the show was, considering how David and Seinfeld weren’t even sure Seinfeld would get off the ground in 1989.
“Seinfeldia grew far beyond what its original architects had imagined,” Armstrong writes.
Samuel Moore-Sobel is the author of Can You See My Scars? His book is available on Amazon. To read more of his work, visit www.samuelmoore-sobel.com.