Effortless. That is the word that comes to mind when I think of the comedy in the hit 90’s sitcom Seinfeld, created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. It’s like all the actors so fully inhabit their characters they aren’t even trying to be funny yet are so hilariously good it seems easy.
It isn’t easy of course. Not with situation comedy. Shows take time to develop their shtick and nowadays most programs don’t get much of a chance to stick around if they don’t get high enough ratings right away. Seinfeld’s first couple of seasons were just so-so. As a huge fan, even I can admit that. They needed time to get their amazing chemistry going and to have a feel for what they wanted to do but once they did, they created something timeless.
With the show Friends following right on their heels and the current show How I Met Your Mother, Seinfeld created the whole, “a small group of cohorts hanging out and doing nothing” thing. With Elaine, George, Jerry and Kramer, the gang on Seinfeld became synonymous with pithy dialogue and strange situations that somehow seem perfectly normal.
One of the earliest episodes is when the gang is shopping and when they go to find their car in the multi-level parking structure, they can’t find it. Who hasn’t had something similar happen to them? It has happened before, it will probably happen again. Timeless. It seems a stretch to take this simple idea and form it into a full episode but because of the imagination of the writers and cast, it works.
Everyone can relate to having a crazy neighbor like Kramer. But what’s great is that they are also strangely likeable and endearing. And entertaining. Cosmo Kramer is certainly that! He’s always got some scheme, some plan that somehow goes right for him but wrong for everyone else.
Most people have a neurotic friend like George, the lovable loser that can’t seem to get a break, no matter how hard he tries. Still lives with his parents, can’t keep a job, can never find love… George is a mess but that’s why we love him.
Elaine keeps the boys in line and adds some much needed female power to the group. She’s brutality honest, which is what they need but what also gets her into trouble at work or with other females. This is why she hangs out with the men; they tolerate her and she them.
Then we have Jerry, the de facto leader of the group. Because of his unusual standards of women he can’t seem to keep a girlfriend and is often dropping them because of some tiny flaw in their body or character.
These characters and their adventures are immortal because they are timeless and we can all relate to them.