Boxset Bucket List: Seinfeld

Seinfeld, the show famous for being “about nothing”, stars stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld as a fictionalised version of himself. The show from 1989-1998 and has been enormously successful in America, being named TV Guide’s best TV show of all time and E!’s ‘number one reason the 90s ruled’.

Set in New York, Seinfeld follows Jerry, his ex-girlfriend Elaine, his neurotic best friend George and his insane neighbour Kramer. Episodes open and close with a few minutes of stand-up by Jerry Seinfeld, known for his “did you ever notice….” humour.

Being a sitcom revolving around a group of thirty-somethings living in New York, Seinfeld always draws comparisons with Friends. But the two shows couldn’t be more different. Seinfeld’s creators always said they had one rule: “No hugging, no learning.” The result is a group of hilariously narcissistic and socially awkward characters who offend almost everyone they meet.

Seinfeld’s hilarity comes mainly from its focus on completely trivial subjects, a lot like Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up shows. Elaborate plots have no place in the world of Seinfeld, and episodes can revolve around anything from parking a car in a disabled spot to having to wait a long time to get a table at a restaurant. Its subtle writing is also a strong point, and the show’s writers received acclaim for managing to write a whole episode about masturbation without once using the word ‘masturbation’.

Cynical and completely bizarre, Seinfeld may not be for everyone, but if you’ve always hated overtly sentimental American comedies then you will absolutely love it. Arguably its greatest seasons are four, five and six as the characters gelled together perfectly.  Such masterclasses inspired shows like Friends, Will and Grace and Sex and the City and defied the unwritten television rule that says that characters have to learn something or love anyone.