Guest Author - Edie Dykeman
The 20th anniversary of the first showing of the American television sitcom Seinfeld was celebrated July 5, 2009. Lasting nine seasons, the consistently high rated show continues through syndication.
Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the show starred Jerry as a fictionalized version of him. The early years of the show had Jerry doing his standup comedy act as an open and close to the show with intermittent shots during the half-hour. The writers phased out the stand-ups during the course of the show.
The show was set in an apartment block in New York City’s upper West side, and featured Jerry’s friends and acquaintances. His closest friends were George Costanza, Elaine Benes, and Cosmo Kramer.
Famously described as being about nothing, Seinfeld was very different from other sitcoms because most were normally built around families or groups of people. In the hit show, none of the main characters were related to one another or worked together.
In addition, most sitcoms revolved around a central theme or comic situation, whereas Seinfeld focused on the minutiae of life, for example, waiting in line at the movies. The characters point of view was often consistent with the philosophy that life is pointless.
The writers based many of the shows characters and recurring characters on real-life people they knew. Others were based on well-known people such as George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees.
Another way the show was atypical of the normal sitcom was the characters did not learn a moral lesson at the end of each show or by the end of the season. They instead seemed indifferent to the outside world and maintained their close circle of friendship to the exclusion of other friends and family members.
Seinfeld starred as the main character, a stand up comedian, and the voice of reason in the craziness of the world around him. His apartment was the main gathering place for his three best friends.
Jerry’s best friend, George Costanza, was played by Jason Alexander. His character was described as cheap, dishonest, petty, and jealous. In spite of that description, he dated many women and successfully worked as an assistant to the Traveling Secretary for the New York Yankees.
Elaine was fabulously played by Julie Louis-Dreyfus. She was considered strong, smart, and superficial. Her blunt honesty often got her into trouble. She was always on the lookout for Mr. Right, and was the only female the guys considered one of them.
Michael Richards starred as Cosmo Kramer, the wacky neighbor who always struggled to maintain a steady job. He often tried out unusual schemes such as coffee table books, which were actually about coffee tables, and suggested men wear a brassiere called “Bro.”
Many scenes of the show live on in infamy and such catchphrases as Yada Yada Yada and master of your domain are now iconic.
After Seinfeld ended, several of the actors attempted shows of their own to no avail. Due to their quick cancellation, usually within the first season, the term Seinfeld curse arose. That curse seems to have broken with the Emmy award winning CBS show The New Adventures of Old Christine starring Louis-Dreyfus.
Seinfeld, considered a cultural and intellectual phenomenon, lives on in syndication, and is available on DVDs.