Monday, August 15, 2016

Seinfeldia - "Not that there's anything wrong with that"

It was the "show about nothing" that was really the show about everything. Few shows have defined an era like Jerry Seinfeld's semi-autobiographical sitcom of the 90s. The brilliantly astute comedian Seinfeld and his sardonic writing partner Larry David held up a mirror to a whole host of "first world problems" and middle-class American neuroses, and we laughed at ourselves through the foibles of Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer, and the madcap list of nutcases they interacted with. Even with all the brilliant television being produced today, we may never see a phenomena like the show that gave us "... yada, yada, yada." But if you're feeling a bit nostalgic for the sort of watercooler discussions that regularly followed a random Thursday night in the 90s, then you've got a treasure trove in a fresh look at some old friends.

Seinfeldia is the bizarro world of Kenny Kramer, who profits off his status as the actual former neighbor of “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David and the inspiration for that hipster doofus, Cosmo Kramer. Seinfeldia features J. Peterman, whose real-life catalog company went bankrupt after it expanded too quickly on his bet, so full of innocence and mayhem at once, that the faux Peterman on “Seinfeld” would lure new customers. Seinfeldia is the realm of writers who desperately mine their daily lives for sitcom storylines, whether they’re dating a woman with man hands or sharing a real family’s fake holiday with the rest of us. And Seinfeldia is the home of Twitter accounts like @SeinfeldToday — frankly, a little hacky — that imagine plot lines for the show’s continued existence.

Pop culture writer Jennifer Keishan Armstrong, who has covered Seinfeld and other TV culture for Entertainment Weekly, has developed a thesis-worth of commentary on the big themes and historical significance of Seinfeld. Armstrong, a self-professed "pop culture nerd," has plenty of experience and insight regarding TV culture and the world of Seinfeld. Is a "television show about nothing" really so signficant that it deserves scholarly and cultural analysis? Well, that's the question that critics ask themselves continually. You can be the judge after you read Seinfeldia - and even if you decided it's not, you'll probably have a few chuckles reliving the zaniness of these "Masters of their domain."

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