By: Gabriela Yareliz
I watched 9 years of Seinfeld in like three weeks. The episodes are very short, so it wasn’t hard to do when I would play it while I cooked, cleaned and ran errands on the streets. So, I guess I wasn’t watching as much as I was listening, but still. At a glance, the show is vapid. I would have used the word banal, but there was an element of originality to it. It was stupidly original. The characters are deeply unlikeable (except for Kramer). They learn nothing, are self-absorbed and whiny in a very New York way. Jerry Seinfeld, however is intelligent. I have heard him speak. The writing on the show pays attention to detail and is intentional. I kept thinking that this show isn’t just about a slow-witted, stocky bald man (Costanza’s description of himself), a sponge-obsessed ex-girlfriend turned best friend (Elaine), an insane neighbor (Kramer) and a whiny comedian who in no way wants to be a pirate (Jerry).
I think the last episode really hit it home for me, when Seinfeld and his friends are on trial for their callous indifference to another man’s robbery.
“I do not know how or under what circumstances the four of you found each other, but your callous indifference and utter disregard for everything that is good and decent has rocked the very foundation upon which our society is built,” says Judge Vandelay at the reading of the verdict. That pretty much sums it up.
Despite the unlikeable characters and lack of depth, I will say that there were things on this show that were so deeply relatable to me. Here are the things I totally got from Seinfeld.
- Jerry’s plain, pre-war apartment: Before Instagram distorted the world’s view on what a home should look like, apartments were typically like this. Mine is very much like this. The paint layers make the apartment smaller, lumpier and grayer. The door has 15 locks on it.
- Older singles: They are all in their late 30s and single. Kramer is probably older than the three friends. My New York church is teeming with older singles. It’s like a city norm. Most married couples are either older or arrived here married from the outside world. Elaine at one point of the show wants children, but then she doesn’t and reveals herself to be terrible with children. George and Jerry have a conversation about how they are not men and are old children. It’s a city syndrome.
- The episode on the parking spot: This is too real. One can circle looking for that spot for hours.
- The low-talker: I had a professor in law school who would mumble to herself. We asked tech to give her a mic because no one could understand her. The mic did not help.
- The attorney: Jackie Chiles is hilarious. He was litigious and always ready to pounce on an opportunity (only to be humilated by Kramer’s stupidity, every time). I once had a client show up drunk to his own trial. I get the humiliation.
- Elaine and Ellen Mischke’s disdain/friendship: They can’t stand each other in a passive aggressive way, but Elaine serves as maid of honor at her almost wedding. Sometimes, the only thing that binds you to a person is your history.
- How small absurdities become the big things in life: This is a reality of life here in New York. Especially if you interact a lot with people. There is so much absurdity. This is what you discuss at the dinner table at the end of the day. Enough absurdity makes a life.
- Seinfeld’s love for cereal: As someone who grew up on cereal, I was always paying attention to the boxes in Seinfeld’s kitchen. He always had a good variety. Honeycomb shows up multiple times. The show touches on this when his mom packs a suitcase of cereal when he has been arrested. She takes cereal to Jerry, and he eats it with very little milk (he complains about his milk rationing in the finale). Cereal is the ultimate American breakfast.
- George’s message machine: It got stuck in my head. I would have done this as a kid. The difference is George is a grown man…
- When Kramer wants to cancel his mail forever: I love when he goes to the post office to cancel his mail forever. (Love when Newman comes to address his request and tells Violet to take her 3-hr break). Now that so much is electronic, Kramer’s wish could actually come true. I love getting letters, but the mailing of bills, ads, etc. All this should go away forever. Kramer was onto something. He didn’t need mail. He saw the people he wanted to talk to in person and everything else was unnecessary.