series binge-a-thon: seinfeld.

it’s been a while since i last watched a show from start to finish [although i’m just now realizing i never wrote about my game of thrones watch last year]. i started frasier in late 2018 but stopped when i started watching game of thrones. i watched the first two seasons of peaky blinders last fall and have just picked it back up again, but in the craziness of life i wanted something short and funny that i didn’t have to pay too much attention to. seinfeld fit all my bills.

similar to when i watched all of friends from start to finish a few years ago, i had previously seen most of seinfeld‘s 9 seasons, but i had seen them out of order and with a lot missing in between. i watched the last few seasons as they aired and bits here and there when they showed reruns in india, but until this had not sat down and watched the entire show all the way through.

seasons 1 and 2 are shorter and so i sailed through them pretty quickly. i paused when i started peaky blinders and then picked it back up when i was under the weather in late october and needed something i could watch that didn’t require all of my mental energy, and from there i watched fairly consistently until i made it all the way through.

some of the jokes don’t age very well, but for the most part the “show about nothing” holds up okay. getting lost in a parking garage because you can’t remember where you parked. fighting over a parking space on the street. waiting for ages for a table when you’re crazy hungry. dealing with love lives and disappointed parents and all the everyday things that come with being an adult kept me laughing.

the thing that really amused me was how pivotal their landlines were. when jerry, elaine, and george changed dinner plans, george had to wait his turn to use a pay phone – a pay phone! – to call his girlfriend to let her know. she had already left her apartment, forcing him to leave her a message that she wouldn’t get until later. in another the gang has plans to see a movie, but they keep changing times and locations and have no way of communicating with one another. in almost every episode someone walks into jerry’s apartment and immediately goes to his phone to either call someone or to check their messages. it’s been over 20 years since the show was on the air, but because i remember those days it was very surreal for me.

i also never realized how long it took to introduce george’s parents into the show. they loom so large in my memory, but they don’t actually become part of the show for quite a while. george’s mother first appears about midway through season four, but his father – such a presence in the show, and initially not jerry stiller – doesn’t appear until the beginning of season five. and the ‘festivus’ episode isn’t until the final season, which very much surprised me. i suppose that is when i was old enough to remember the show, and those later seasons are probably the most common ones shown in syndication now, so they seem so much more significant in my mind.

ultimately it was a fun trip down memory lane, but i don’t know that i would intentionally watch it again. similar to friends, watching this show through a 2020 lens is kind of tough. there are so few characters of color in a show set in new york city. there are homophobic elements that i don’t like. and george is a pain in the ass [yes, i said it]. but kramer will forever make me laugh.


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