Edited by: Tejaswini Vondivillu
Nothing- it is a vague word. Imagine making an entire sitcom that lasted for nine years based on ‘nothing’. Apparently, nothing is a lot of things and Jerry Seinfeld proved this to us. He did a phenomenal job by creating “a show about nothing”, which expanded for nine years and aired around a hundred and eighty episodes in over nine seasons. Seinfeld is an American situational comedy that revolves around the daily lives of people. The most amazing part of the show is that it is relevant even today, after 22 years since it last aired. In a comical manner, it documents some of the weird, unfortunate or happy events that most of us may have encountered over the years.
The show portrays these events with the help of the four main characters: Jerry Seinfeld, Elaine Benes, George Costanza and Cosmo Kramer. According to Jerry Seinfeld, comedy is just about connection. One thing that is striking is that there has been a marvellous change in trends of the society over 22 years, but the issues we face are still similar to those that Sinfled showcased throughout its run – it strikes a chord with our daily life, and makes us reflect on what we think are mundane activities. This is the reason why his writing and material for the show “Seinfeld” makes us laugh years after the show stopped airing.
Though the storyline of Seinfeld was based on mundane happenings, it redefined the comic genre of TV series. It is one of the most influential series precisely because of its relatability to the common man. Seinfeld revolutionized self-involved jokes . Through his show, a larger audience appreciates self-involved jokes and this helped not only change comedy in television but also popularized stand up comedy.
The show’s characters allowed people to glance into and laugh about the shortcomings that connect us all as human beings. The storyline of all characters have elements that portray them as self-centred, self-obsessed, competitive and common people who were just trying to survive in New York City. These qualities are typical of the average human. George Costanza is perhaps the most compelling character that was created on the show. He presented a self-interested and selfish character, someone trying to make his way in a confusing world. His undiplomatic attitude made him one of the most loathsome figures on the show. However, from time to time we find ourselves empathizing with him. This subtle soft spot that is created for George manifests because we are able to relate with the innate weakness and limitations that force George to behave in such a way. Elaine Benes changed the way women were portrayed in sitcoms and soap operas. Before Elaine, most women characters on screen had a role of playing the romantic or the love interest. However, she put forth an image of an independent and a self-sufficient woman. Along with a work oriented attitude, she brought a dash of craziness and a more realistic image of women to the screens. Cosmo Kramer added to the silliness of the show with eccentric behaviour and interest like his innovative ideas for business or silly suggestions to solve a problem. It was his carefree and bold nature that helped convey the free life that most people desire to have. The mix of these complex characters helped the show be more engaging to the audience at many levels.
Unlike other serials that were being made during that time, “Seinfled”portrayed its characters as imperfect and self-involved. The characters faced troubles, overcoming the vices that limit people in real life. It helped break the enigmatic perception that TV serial characters create of humans. By doing so, it helped people accept their shortcomings and have a great laugh out of them.