Blowhard, Esq. writes:
A few thoughts and observations after watching all nine seasons of SEINFELD, which were recently released on Hulu Plus.
1. A lot of episodes focus on clothes and fashion: the puffy shirt, the red dot on the cashmere sweater, George getting the suit on sale, Bania’s Armani suit, Elaine working for a clothing catalog (the urban sombrero, etc), Kramer’s cologne being ripped off by Calvin Klein, George’s cotton Yankee uniforms, Jerry’s suede jacket with the pink striped lining, Larry David playing the mysterious man wearing a cape, Morty Seinfeld and his raincoats, Puddy and his silly fur coat, the Bro/Manziere, Sue Ellen and her bra, Jerry dating the girl who only has one dress, Kramer and his skinny jeans. Not a plot point, but I remember Michael Richards’s wardrobe making a bit of an impact during the original run. I’m sure I’ve forgotten other examples. Even the very first episode of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM is about David buying a pair of pants with an unsightly tent at the crotch that makes it look like he has an erection.
2. Jerry and the gang breaking up with people over silly quirks (the Low Talker, the Close Talker, Man Hands) became one of the show’s trademarks but those episodes didn’t stick out or feel as numerous to me. Maybe because I’ve seen them so many times? Are they inordinately popular in the syndication rotation?
3. George is the real star of the show and Jerry is the straight man sidekick. CURB is basically the George character getting the spin-off he deserves. I still haven’t come across an explanation for why they made George Italian when he’s clearly the most neurotic Jew who ever lived. He makes Woody Allen look like an Episcopalian minister.
4. The show is pretty unabashed when it comes to making fun of Alexander’s and Wayne Knight’s less-than-desireable looks. George is constantly described by himself and others as “short, stocky, and bald” and Newman’s apartment has that poster of a hot fudge sundae on the wall, which the show’s directors framed him beside. They frequently paired both of them with women who were out of their league, but that was part of the joke.
5. It’s kind of a bitter “fuck you” to the audience, but I liked the finale.
6. Hard to say which episode was my favorite. The two times I remember laughing the hardest are from Kramer lines — when he quits dancing around what everyone is trying to be diplomatic about and bluntly delivers the truth. The one that comes to mind is when George is dating the woman who would be hot but for her big nose. (Notice too how they’re talking about a jacket — another clothing reference I forgot.)
Another scene that sticks out in my memory — because it’s so Jewish — comes in the Bania Armani suit episode. Bania argues soup isn’t a meal but Jerry thinks it is. Jerry is talking to Elaine about it and they’re arguing back and forth about whether soup constitutes a meal. What kind of soup? Was it hearty? Did he eat bread with it? It’s a great example of legal reasoning. If anyone wants to know why there are so many Jews in the law, I’d show them that scene.
Still, I can’t say those were my favorite episodes. I guess this is a kind of a bullshit cop out answer, but my favorite thing about the show is the chemistry between the group. That’s why the show is so watchable — it comes on and you wanna settle in no matter which episode it is. Some episodes are funnier or spawned more pop culture references than others, but it doesn’t really matter which one I’m watching.
7. The show is also great for basically being the reason why Seinfeld and Howard Stern feuded for years. The episodes of Howard where Gilbert Gottfried mocked Jerry’s act and delivery are among the hardest I’ve ever laughed in my life.
8. Another thing I appreciated, which it has in common with THE SIMPSONS, are all the great secondary characters, some of which only appeared in one episode. The world it created feels richer. It’s also a good example of something Sax has pointed out — you don’t shoot for world-building, it’s a consequence of good storytelling.
9. This 3.5 hour interview with Jason Alexander at the Archive of American Television is very much worth watching if you’re a fan of the show. Funny to learn how Alexander learned the marine biologist speech an hour before he delivered it and the take we see in the episode was the first he ever performed it.
- This Salon analysis of the most “racist and sexist” episodes is mind-numbingly stupid and comedically tone deaf. Par for the course when overly earnest Millennials (is there any other kind?) attempt arts criticism.