Seinfeld is a show about nothing and everything at the same time. It’s a show many of us grew up watching. It was almost a part of our lives and pop culture, much like Game of Thrones is today. We could relate to their personalities on a human level. Many note that Friends was the more significant show of the 90s. I disagree. I definitely could not relate to a show where 6 friends slept with each other through the seasons. If that’s the norm, maybe I need to make some new friends.
What might seem like a show about four work-shy friends having superfluous conversations on the surface, is a treasure trove of rhetoric about human behavior, flaws, idiosyncrasies and society in general. It is a show which catapulted Jerry Seinfeld to the pinnacle of fame and established him as one of the pioneers of observational comedy. One can’t forget Larry David’s contribution to the show, though his versatile comedic talent was only fully realized with Curb Your Enthusiasm. So, without further ado, here are ten moments when you think, “it’s just like that episode on Seinfeld.” Ten moments which outline humanity and its various traits and flaws.
1. The Morning Guy – Night guy dichotomy
Let’s picture this. It’s Sunday night. You’ve got important work to do as tomorrow’s Monday. Ugh! Night Guy looks at the amount of work left and selfishly determines that it’s Morning Guy’s problem. He switches on the telly instead. Ah, it’s the Game of Thrones finale. One can’t possibly miss that. Oh, but wait! You need to go to the supermarket and there’s other chores to do: wash the utensils, do the laundry, etc. Forget it. Morning guy will take care of that too. Let me grab a beer and sit in awe of what could be yet another ground-breaking and taboo-breaking episode. A few beers later, you’re watching the True Detective premiere. Soon after, you’re asleep.
Morning Guy, obviously having woken up late, is cursing at the inanimate alarm clock. There’s no breakfast or lunch as Night Guy forgot to go to the supermarket. And what else? There’s no gas in the car. Grumbling in anger, Morning Guy has to fix the resultant chaos and mayhem.
This bit gets our inherent need for instant gratification and procrastination dead-on. We relate to this on many levels because when we think of ourselves in the future, it’s almost like we’re thinking about another person. In this case, Night Guy doesn’t think of Morning Guy as a subsequent version of himself but instead as a whole different entity.
2. Well, the Jerk Store called, and they’re running out of you.
How often has this happened? You’re having an argument that ends with an insult but you fail to come up with a comeback. Later, while doing some mindless chore, you think of a great one but you’re way past the shelf-life of that conversation. This common predicament of after-wit is referred to as “l’esprit d’escalier” in French. The story goes that French encyclopaedist and philosopher Denis Diderot, at a dinner party of a statesman, was so overwhelmed by the last word levelled against him during an argument. Bewildered, he could only think of the perfect retort when he left the party. We all wish we had the verbal dexterity and wit to come up with something spontaneous every time but sometimes, we just need to accept defeat and acknowledge that he/she won this round and you’ll get them next time. If Monsieur Diderot struggled at times, I think we can be excused.
3. She just took credit for my salad.
Most of us want to be acknowledged and remembered for something good we did and to be denied credit for it bothers us. This reveals our need to be explicitly recognized for our deeds and our need for validation from others. This could be traced back to our need for approval from our parents and friends and how the resultant acknowledgement made us feel needed and valued. The problem lies in the fact that it is more important for others to respect us than we respect ourselves. If we were all perfect, the only validation we would need would have come from within. We would all be happy if we learnt that self-acknowledgment trumps validation from others. But it’s not to be.
4. You gotta see the baby!
We all know it but find it hard to say it. New parents can get terribly annoying. Though one can understand their exuberance, but more often than not, they overwhelm us with their baby talk. The flurry of photos on social media, sneaking in not-so-subtle references to the baby and the ceaseless bragging and brooding. The friends and siblings, who you grew up with, have suddenly forgotten the criteria for what makes a good post or conversation. As parents, they tend to see their children through special prejudiced lenses and contemplate everything they do with profound adoration. They find it hard to be objective and realize that all babies eventually learn to walk and say “mama” or “dada”. It could be attributed to the accompanied sleep deprivation but, “Guys, stop mommy-jacking every conversation!”
5. You know I always wanted to pretend that I was an architect.
The concept of pretend play is introduced to us as a child. We pretended to be doctors, soldiers, policemen and astronauts. Not only did it teach us empathy but it made us wonder about the world around us. But as we gradually grow up, we play a different version of the game. Being taught how to behave in different situations: at school, at social gatherings, at work, etc., we see ourselves acting in ways best suited to the situation in order to make our friends, relatives and co-workers like us.
When we’ve grown up and taken up professions not entirely of our choosing (be it due to parental pressure or the economic climate), we sit back and wonder “what if?” What if I was an actor instead of an accountant? What if I had taken up teaching instead of technical school? What if I was an architect instead of an attorney? Yes, George wonders that too.