“So, we go into NBC, we tell them we’ve got an idea for a show about nothing…”
Who knew that a show about nothing would have one of the biggest impacts on American television history? A ratings juggernaut and a cultural phenomenon, Seinfeld (1989) was the most popular television show of the 1990s.
Recently celebrating its 25th Anniversary on July 5, Seinfeld, created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, introduced something to sitcoms that was completely foreign to audiences of the time. It brought forth the idea that there could be a show that featured a cast of characters who never learned their lessons and existed to solely to make each other miserable. While this idea is hardly out of the ordinary today, it was revolutionary when the sitcom first premiered in 1989.
Outside of Seinfeld himself, the program featured a cast of relatively unknown actors and comedians. Over the next nine years, these performers would become inseparable from their iconic characters. Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer would makes audiences laugh every night for 22-minutes.
Today, the actors and creators of the series have moved on with their lives, to various degrees of success.
When not swimming in his mountains of royalty money, Seinfeld, the king of observational comedy, continues to do stand-up across the United States. He’s also the host of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, a web series that features interviews of veteran stand-up comedians and comedy writers. Mel Brooks, Don Rickles, Patton Oswalt and Louie C.K. have been guests on the program.
In terms of critical acclaim, no one in the main cast has been more successful than Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s currently the lead on HBO’s Veep (2012), a political comedy in which she plays the Vice President of the United States. Picking up two Emmys for the series, Louis-Dreyfus has had a career resurgence. She was also the star of her own sitcom, New Adventures of Old Christine (2006), and also earned a fair share of praise for the indie-romance film, Enough Said (2013).
Outside of a few appearances on shows like Community (2009) and American Dad (2005), Jason Alexander has mostly retired from film and television. However, he has had a long and successful career on the stage after Seinfeld ended in 1998. He’s acted opposite Martin Short in Mel Brooks’ Los Angles production of The Producers, and also appeared in the 2004 musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol. He was also recently named the Artistic Director of Reprise Theatre Company in Los Angeles. He will be directing a revival of the play, Damn Yankees.
Michael Richards has been the least visible and most controversial of all the former Seinfeld leads. After a public meltdown at a comedy club in Hollywood in 2006, in which an enraged Richards shouted racial slurs at audience members, he’s rarely been seen in public since 2007. Despite his reclusiveness, Richards has appeared on Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
When thinking about the legacy of Seinfeld and its impact on television, it’s hard not to look at David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000) as an evolution of the series. It’s dark, abrasive and features a cast of self-hating people. The similarities are obvious and it shows just how much David continues to use the lessons that he learned on his previous show.
Curb Your Enthusiasm follows David, the creator of a popular television sitcom who frequently gets into trouble due to his ego and narcissistic behavior. If anything, Curb gives viewers a look into what Seinfeld could have been, had it been created for cable. It’s the Seinfeld of today, only with less puffy shirts and more cringe-inducing conversations.
In many ways, without Seinfeld, we wouldn’t have shows like Community and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Much like those programs, Seinfeld wasn’t afraid to try new things and subvert audience expectations.
While the ending may have been disappointing (hell, it was pretty bad) Seinfeld will always be one of the greatest comedies to ever grace television.
What about you reader? Are you a fan of Seinfeld? What were some of your favorite moments from the show’s history? Let us know in the comments below.