“Seinfeld” is a New York City based sitcom from the 1990s that has been renowned as one of the greatest television programs of all time. The reasoning behind its praise is that the allure of how the show is essentially about nothing. Almost every episode in all nine seasons of the program takes place in an apartment with four main characters: Jerry Seinfeld (the comedian), George Costanza (the best friend), Cosmo Kramer (the neighbor), and Elaine Benes (the ex-girlfriend).
The work as a whole takes place in a Utopian setting, where at the end of each episode, the slate is wiped clean, and whatever situation the characters have gotten themselves in, is erased. This happens 180 times throughout the 180 episodes of this series. The show has created a unique aura around it because essentially, nothing happens. Throughout a half hour episode, conversations take place among friends mainly about relationships and small quirks in society that are ever present, but rarely spoken about. One tiny example among the hundreds that occur throughout the show is how to determine who has the right to saying the first “bless you” if a woman sneezes, her husband or a friend. Normally these are not issues that come about in a regular conversation, however this show has taken these uncommon quirks in society and created hours on hours of dialogue around it.
The point of the work is to show a perfect society in which friends are able to live and interact with one another in a city and get themselves into odd situations However, as the episode comes to a close and you are met with the famous “Seinfeld” bass tab, everything that has happened in the last 30 minutes is erased and the cast is able to start fresh with a new episode filled with nothing.
The show’s writer, Larry David, was a struggling comedian in the 1980s who teamed up with Jerry Seinfeld to create a pilot for this “show about nothing” for NBC. He is portrayed by George Costanza’s character, and many of the situations that he finds himself were once actual scenarios. A brief example of this appeared in an episode called “The Revenge.” In his actual life, Larry David had quit his job at SNL, and after realizing later in the day that it was a bad idea, showed up to work the next day as if nothing happened. It is the little antics like these that give the show its substance.
The most effective factor in considering how this show about nothing became one of the most notable utopian works can be examined by looking at the entire series as a whole. The first conversation that occurs in the first episode of the show in 1989 is about “the buttons on a shirt.” The show comes full circle, where in the last episode, 9 years later, the show ends with the identical conversation. Thus, ending the show as if nothing had happened at all. This is the most utopian quality of the work and is one of the reasons why it has had such an impact on popular culture.
The significance of “Seinfeld” is that it encompasses a perfect world in which people are able to go about their daily lives with no repercussions for any decisions they make, whether right or wrong. At the end of each day, the slate is wiped clean and you are able to refocus, with no bearing on what may or may not have happened in the previous 24 hours. This is what has made the sitcom the success it is and is the reason why we are able to examine a show about “nothing” in such depth, almost twenty years since its last episode aired.