Seinfeld, the famous show “about nothing” was one of, if not the most popular sitcom of the 90s. As most sitcoms of the 90s focused on either family-relations or co-worker relations, Seinfeld stood out like a sore thumb. However, what made Seinfeld great was not only that it was different from everything else on TV, but also its ability to comedically portray “selfish and amoral” characters: Jerry constantly breaking up with women because of minor details which he would blow out of proportion; George, a pitiful, self-loathing, neurotic, “short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man” (as Elaine described him in an episode); Elaine, an apathetic, ruthless, sometimes bitter woman; and Kramer, the unemployed, eccentric, moocher.
Seinfeld was not only a great TV show, it revolutionized the world of sitcoms through its complex story lines. Though at a first glance the plots of episodes seem straight forward enough, closer examination reveals how episodes began with a multitude of plot lines which all converge into one single plot line at the end of the episode, usually in an ironic fashion. The ability to do so requires some very talented writers.
Seinfeld is also known for its use of “Seinfeldian” slang, for example sponge-worthy, bubble-boy, and yadda-yadda-yadda. By using such slang, audience members are able to feel like they are a part of the show, as they hold knowledge which only the main characters of the show know.
In short, Seinfeld was a beloved sitcom with a massive following that will fondly remember it for years to come. The following is a list of 10 things you probably didn’t know about the hit TV sitcom.
10. Accidental Jokes
The last joke in “The Parking Garage,” where Kramer’s car wouldn’t start, was completely accidental. The final gag was supposed to be everyone getting in the car and driving around being unable to find the exit. However, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus recalled, “we were supposed to climb into the car and go. And when we did, Michael [Richards] couldn’t start the car. It actually wouldn’t start. It was like God had actually given us a better ending to the script. We were laughing so damn hard that if you watch the episode, you can see-I think it’s Jason [Alexander] and me in the back seat, and our heads are bobbing, trying to stop our hysterical laughter, trying to keep it under control while the camera’s running.”
9. Brilliant but Psycho
Alton Benes (Elaine’s father) could have become a regular character on the show, as many of his fellow actors agreed he was a great character that was quirky like the rest of the protagonists. However, there was just one small problem: the actor who played him, Lawrence Tierney, was said to scare the living daylights out of the majority of the crew. While they were filming “The Jacket,” someone noticed Tierney stealing a real knife from the set of Jerry’s kitchen. When Jerry confronted him about it, Tierney tried to joke it off by holding the knife up and imitating the famous Psycho score. Julia Louis-Dreyfus described him as a “nut-job” and, Tom Cherones, the episode’s director, even admitted, “Lawrence Tierney scared me to death.”
8. Too Much Clapping
It’s no secret: Kramer was a fan favourite on Seinfeld, being brilliantly portrayed by Michael Richards. In fact, as the show grew in popularity, and Kramer awkwardly fumbled through Jerry’s apartment door, producers had to ask the studio audiences to refrain from clapping. The cast complained that the continuous applause was simply going on too long and was interfering with the show’s pacing. But hey, you can’t blame people for being too enthusiastic; who doesn’t love Kramer?
7. “No Hugging, no Learning”
Another popular sitcom on the air at the same time as Seinfeld was Friends. In order to differentiate themselves and essentially become the antagonist of Friends, Larry David instituted his infamous “no hugging, no learning” policy. In other words, the show’s writers had to make sure that none of the characters became sentimental, learned moral lessons and never developed as people. Though it may sound terrible, let’s face it, this basic rule is what made Seinfeld hilarious and great. How funny would Seinfeld be if at the end of each episode George learned a lesson from his wrong-doings and became a better person?
6. John O’Hurley (J. Peterman) Works for the J. Peterman Company
That is correct, John O’Hurley, who played the role of Elaine’s boss, J. Peterman, in seasons six through nine, became a partner of the non-fictional J. Peterman Company after Seinfeld ended. The J. Peterman company actually existed before the famous sitcom did, and while the show was on air their sales skyrocketed. Unfortunately, after the show ended, the company went bankrupt. Peterman called up O’Hurley (whom he had befriended during Seinfeld) to help bring back the brand. Ever since then, O’Hurley has helped bring the J. Peterman Company back to live and has joined the company’s board of directors.
5. A Closed Office Door
One of the things which made Seinfeld a fan favourite for nearly a decade, and keep its good reputation far after the show ended, was that Jerry Seinfeld knew when to end it – after its ninth season, when writers were beginning to run out of ideas. Jerry Seinfeld even refused a $110 million offer by NBC to make a tenth season (of course he already had a lot of money by then but it is still impressive nevertheless). Needless to say, audiences all over were disappointed when the show finally did come to an end. One television network decided to honor the departed beloved sitcom by not airing anything in Seinfeld’s time slot. Instead, TV Land showed a picture of a closed office door saying everyone was watching the last episode of Seinfeld.
4. Joel Rifkin or O.J.
In episode nine of season five, “The Masseuse,” Elaine tries to convince her current boyfriend to change his name, as he is called Joel Rifkin (the name of a notorious American serial killer who killed nine women in New York City, between 1989 and 1993). Joel Rifkin was not the first name writers had thought of, initial suggestions for names included O.J.. Interestingly, the episode was shot in 1993, which was a year before O.J. Simpson was accused of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
3. Steven Spielberg Watched Seinfeld to Cheer up
As many Steven Spielberg fans know, Schindler’s List (1993) is not an easy film to watch. Imagine how hard it was to film? Spielberg himself found it quite emotionally difficult. According to IMBD, he admitted to getting so depressed while filming the classic movie that he would watch tapes of Seinfeld in order to cheer up. It turns out Seinfeld is not only funny for everyday people, but for famous directors too.
2. A Fat Elaine?
Did you know that Julia Louis-Dreyfus become pregnant with her second child while they were filming Seinfeld? Jerry Seinfeld actually suggested finding a way to include Louis-Dreyfus’ changing body into the show, by making an episode where Elaine gets fat. Needless to say, Louis-Dreyfus was not thrilled at the idea: she “just burst into tears” when Seinfeld suggested it. The idea was thus immediately rejected, and the crew opted to hide Louis-Dreyfus’ belly under loose clothing and well-placed props.
1. “Hello, Newman”
Seinfeld was full of many memorable characters including Frank and Estelle Costanza (George’s parents), J. Peterman (Elaine’s boss), Jackie Chiles (Kramer’s lawyer). However, a crowd favourite was definitely Jerry Seinfeld’s nemesis, Newman the mailman. Who can forget the classic line “Hello, Newman”? You may be surprised to know that Jerry doesn’t say the famous line as often as you’d think. In fact, throughout the entire series, Jerry only says “hello, Newman” 16 times. That’s just nearly twice per season.