L. Neil Smith's
Number 371, June 11, 2006

"A lot of controversy"

What's The Deal With "Seinfeld"
by Jonathan David Morris

Reprinted by The Libertarian Enterprise

Two and a half years ago, I wrote a column called "So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish," in which I came out against the Iraq War before war supporters coming out against the Iraq War was cool. I've always looked back upon that column fondly, but I have to admit it created a moral dilemma for me. As I told some friends at the time, coming out against the war almost felt like coming out of the closet. All of a sudden, I'd done something which seemed to be completely at odds with my very manhood. I knew people would never look at me the same way again. And for some reason, this made me feel like I needed a new brand of hair gel.

I don't expect what I'm about to say here to carry the same weight as my anti-war coming out party. But in a way, what I'm about to say feels pretty much the same to me.

Something has been on my mind the last few months, which I can no longer ignore and certainly can't continue to deny. After many years, I have finally—and perhaps irreversibly—grown equal parts sick and tired of my once-favorite sitcom, Seinfeld. I still think it's funny, and I still think it's brilliant, but as hard as I try, I just can't watch it anymore. Not five times a day in syndication. Not even once.

Someday, I'm sure I will find it enjoyable again. But at this point, if I never saw a single episode for the rest of my life, I would live.

To understand why I think my waning interest in this show is column-worthy, let me put it this way: There's a better than not chance that you know exactly which episode the term "column-worthy" is semi-referring to (i.e., the sponge episode). Seinfeld has become deeply ingrained in modern American culture. It's not just a sitcom. It's a common denominator. Some might even call it a language.

Few of the people I know stopped speaking that language when Judge Vandelay sentenced Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer to prison for being bad Samaritans in the final episode eight years ago. Many folks still swear by this show. And as little as a year ago, I did, too.

But I can't take it anymore. I just can't watch it now.

Six months ago, I found myself starting to feel bad whenever I stumbled upon a rerun. I would quickly change channels, as if I was hiding from some sort of social responsibility.

Today, I no longer even feel bad. If I come across a rerun, I just curl my lip and keep moving. This isn't like me. I'm really not a lip curler.

What I am, though, is bored. And I don't think it's the show's fault. I think it's the fans. I think it's anyone who not only still feels the need to reference Seinfeld in casual conversation, but the need to smirk in the process, as if there's anything clever about quoting a show that everyone knows every line to, that went off the air almost a decade ago.

I don't expect this to sit well with too many people, but someone has to say it already. Someone needs to point out that all these smirking Seinfeld references are only cheapening the show.

I hate to break it to you, America, but there's no longer anything interesting about real people celebrating the fake holiday of Festivus. And when you talk about needing "hand" in your relationships, it no longer tells me you're keen to the hilarious difficulties men and women have faced in their efforts to get together over the years. It tells me you've learned next to nothing about those hilarious difficulties since the final episode of Seinfeld. That was 1998. This is 2006. For God's sake, get with the program.

We can all find the humor in licking cheap envelopes or not being allowed to eat soup. But if you feel the need to reference George's dead fiancée or the infamous Soup Nazi when someone licks an envelope or orders soup in public, I no longer think you're creative or hip to pop culture. What I think is that Seinfeld died eight years ago and you haven't stopped sitting shivah for it. You're still mourning "the show about nothing," which essentially means you're a person about nothing. Normal people have moved on and found new favorite sitcoms. Watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Watch My Name Is Earl. Watch The Office. Trust me. They're good.

I'm not saying we should stop liking Seinfeld, and I'm certainly not saying we should forget it. I'm just saying we're still obsessed with quoting a show where the main character wears tight black jeans and white sneakers. That sort of thing shouldn't fly in post-9/11 America. It gets to a point where enough is enough.

Jonathan David Morris writes from Philadelphia. He can be reached at jdm@readjdm.com.


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