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Seinfeldia

How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything

By Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
10-minute read
Audio available
Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Seinfeldia (2016) is an in-depth look behind the scenes of the hit sitcom that changed TV forever. These blinks explain Seinfeld’s creation, history, fan base and the lasting impact it has had on TV history as well as millions of fans.

  • Seinfeld fans everywhere!
  • Stand-up comedians
  • Anyone with dreams of creating a hit TV show

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the TV Columnist for BBC Culture as well as a writer for the New York Times Book Review and other publications. Her additional titles include a book about the Mary Tyler Moore Show called Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted.

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Seinfeldia

How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything

By Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
  • Read in 10 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 6 key ideas
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Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Synopsis

Seinfeldia (2016) is an in-depth look behind the scenes of the hit sitcom that changed TV forever. These blinks explain Seinfeld’s creation, history, fan base and the lasting impact it has had on TV history as well as millions of fans.

Key idea 1 of 6

Seinfeld blurred the lines of reality and fiction from the very beginning.

Have you ever wondered how the hit series Seinfeld got its start?

Well, it began in 1988, when NBC approached the comedian Jerry Seinfeld with an offer to make a TV show. He immediately went to his friend Larry David, seeking a creative partnership; David signed on and they started working out a show based largely on their own real-life experiences.

During this initial process, the pair was joking around in a Korean supermarket when David suggested that what they were doing at that moment, making mundane but hilarious jokes and observations, should be the show’s premise. This decision would prove revelatory.

After all, the fact that the show was so plain about reality gave it a unique feeling. Jerry would play a stand-up comedian named Jerry Seinfeld, but he wouldn’t exactly be playing himself. Meanwhile, the character George would in many ways be similar to Larry David.

As a result, the show is full of real-world stories, and one such famous episode depicts Jerry and George pitching an idea for “a show about nothing” to TV executives. Their fictional show is basically the exact same idea as that of Seinfeld – it’s even called “Jerry” – and the audience is led to imagine that this enactment is similar to the real-life pitch made by David and Seinfeld.

Such comparisons to reality gave birth to a parallel universe known as Seinfeldia, a world only slightly different than our own that blended fiction and reality. The plotlines of the show were almost exclusively pulled from the real-world experiences of David, Seinfeld and, eventually, the rest of the writing staff.

Since the show was so focused on New York City, these writers were largely New Yorkers themselves, and could generate content that was true to the city. For instance, the Soup Nazi, a character in the show who rapidly rose to infamy for his catchphrase, “no soup for you!”, was based on an actual New York soup chef that New Yorkers would immediately recognize, deepening the show’s mix of fiction and reality.

This unusual meta aspect of the show was due in large part to its style and writing, but the ongoing existence of Seinfeldia owes a lot to the fans who so lovingly nurture it, which you’ll learn all about in the following blinks.

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