Before taking this class, I’d already seen quite a few Seinfeld episodes. My dad is a HUGE Seinfeld fan and owns every single season on DVD. While my dad would persuade me to watch these episodes with him, I never could get into the show.
As a young viewer watching the show, I felt like the episodes were indeed about nothing, a puffy shirt, some soup, who really cared? I remember finding the stand-up portions at the beginning and end of the episodes to be the most intriguing part. Whether this was because I was happy the episode had ended or because I was glad to have some sort of structure with a beginning, middle and end of a story, I can’t say.
I was frustrated, from the scattered episodes that I’d seen, that there was no real story to each episode. To me, it seemed like the characters remained unchanged from the time the episode started to the time it ended. Re-watching these episodes now, however, I feel like I’ve been able to analyze the series with a much more critical eye.
There really is a great deal that is being said amidst the “nothingness” of each episode’s plot. One moment that really struck out to me was the way that homosexuality was addressed in the episode “The Outing.” The repeated phrase “not that there’s anything wrong with that” makes a strong sociopolitical statement. These two men, Jerry and George who both identify as straight, are at a crossroads. Fundamentally, they are accepting of gay men, yet they are embarrassed and ashamed of being labelled as gay.
While viewing this show a second time at an older age, I’ve really been able to appreciate the content of the show more. Under this guise of nothingness, they really are making statements, be they large or small. Though I must say, I still cannot get over that fact that Jerry Seinfeld, while a great comedian, cannot act to save his life.