Seinfeld

They called it “a show about nothing,” but you’d be hard-pressed to stretch “nothing” into nine seasons of hit comedy. Really, Seinfeld was about everything: sex, parents, the buttons on your shirt, baked goods, cold cereal, “man hands,” yada yada yada… It was the little things in life that mattered on Seinfeld. You would never see “a very special episode” about drugs or childbirth, and nobody ever, ever gave hugs.

Seinfeld debuted on NBC in 1989 and was distinctly different from every sitcom that preceded it. Seinfeld didn’t really even have a family, not even a workplace surrogate one. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld (playing a riff on himself) was the title star, and the other leads were just a childhood friend, a neighbor, and an ex-lover. George Costanza, the childhood friend, was a perpetual loser, and not really the loveable kind. When the show started, he was a realtor, but a succession of jobs followed, each hampered by George’s desires to get paid as much as possible for doing as little as possible. Cosmo Kramer, the neighbor, lived the kind of life George dreamed about, never working but always having plenty of money and plenty of inexplicable relationships with beautiful women. Elaine Benes, the ex-lover, was now just a good friend, but she was every bit as shallow and petty as the rest of the bunch (probably more so).

Other characters made their marks – mailman Newman (Jerry’s arch-nemesis), Jerry’s parents, George’s parents, Uncle Leo, catalog magnate J. Peterman, thickwit boyfriend Puddy, lawyer Jackie Chiles and others – but the starring foursome was always front and center. Into the social world of New York City ventured these four chums, experiencing the pitfalls of blind dates, rental cars, bad parties, parking spaces, impotence, and anything else that the writers found funny. And in a case of art imitating life imitating art imitating life, the on-screen Seinfeld worked many of the episode’s social quirks into his stand-up comedy routine (a favorite comic bit of the off-screen Jerry Seinfeld).

Jerry Seinfeld co-created the series with friend Larry David (a proto-Costanza), a fact the show spoofed when Jerry and George tried to pitch NBC on a sitcom of their own, titled Jerry. That story carried through several episodes, but most of the show’s classic moments fell into a single half-hour time block – the puffy shirt, the Soup Nazi, Bizarro Jerry, Kramer’s life-turned-Cheers, etc. – sent Seinfeld into the stratosphere. By the 1994-95 season, it was the top-ranked show on television, the one everyone would be talking about come Friday morning.

Seinfeld remained a ratings powerhouse throughout the 90′s, coming to an end only when the cast decided to call it quits after the 1997-98 season. A two-hour special brought things to a close in the summer of ’98, culminating in a two-part episode that found Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer finally getting some legal comeuppance for nine seasons of self-absorption. Fans have kept the show alive with tributes and clubs, and the series is still ever-present via syndication, but the world may never again see so much ado about “nothing.”

If you were a loyal watcher of this iconic sitcom, we’d love for you to take a moment and share your favorite Seinfeld memories in our comments section below.

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