After reading The Seinfeld Universe, I saw the first two seasons available on DVD for $1.50. I bought them, of course, and now I’ve watched them.
The first two seasons of Seinfeld (and The Seinfeld Chronicles, as it was originally known) ran roughly during my first year of college, including the first summer I spent back in Milwaukee. I pretty much lit out for my birthplace the Monday after my graduation from the high school in House Springs, Missouri. Which will explain why I didn’t see them when they first aired: I was too busy with my first job (working almost full time while shirking my first year of school en route to losing a full ride scholarship at Marquette), trying to learn piano and writing a song for a Southern belle who only mocked me for it, growing a mullet that started pretty much from my not getting a haircut for a long time, shirking actual classes by hiding in the Memorial Library and getting busted occasionally by the Pop Cop because I realized I could find a book about anything there, and cruising the streets and highways of Wisconsin (and occasionally Illinois to go to Barnaby’s in Schaumburg because we’d once gone there to bring back a pizza on a bet) while wailing out the hits of Icehouse and Bad English with Chris and Deb (who is my first girlfriend, except she was 34 when I was 20).
The first two seasons are a total of 16 episodes, 8 “hours” of television (minus commercial time). Good for a one-a-night sort of viewing, or a one-every-couple-nights viewing pattern if that’s your pleasure (it was mine, sort of).
One of the knocks on the series concept, according to the book The Seinfeld Universe, was that the book was too Jewish and too New York. Twenty years later, I’d say the show was a bit urban for my taste, but I’m entering middle age now and live not in the suburbs, but in the areas where the suburbs will be in twenty years. The exurbs. Almost rural. So the show is a little outside my sweet spot of relatability. Also, I’ve been married my entire thirties, so I don’t know I relate to thirty-somethings having the problems I had when I was twenty-five. I’d probably make the same criticism of a number of other programs, but I don’t watch most sitcoms. Bloody heck, the only television show I’ve watched from the recent past is Human Target (although I’m recording Whitney because they played the ads enough during football and I think Whitney’s cute, but whether I watch them depends on two factors: one, whether I get around to seeing them before my DVR’s non-moving parts stop non-moving and two, whether my beautiful wife reads this review and reacts to the “Whitney is cute” thing enough to make me guiltily erase the shows unseen–although in my defense, I’d like to say I thought Whitney Houston was cute back in the day, too–come to think of that, my defense is further excavation). Half-hour sitcoms have lost a lot since Sledge Hammer!.
The shows were amusing, and they were not “about nothing” as they claimed. They had their conceits and their topical humor built on those conceits. They were about something, but not something I can relate to A)twenty years later, B)older than the characters, and C)more Midwesternly stablely married than the characters.
I only had one belly laugh in the whole collection, and that was in a moment of physical humor. The rest amused me, but it did not Touch My Life as it did so many people in the 1990s. As did Friends, apparently. Maybe we’re older and wiser now, but do sitcoms today touch us like they did in those days (purportedly)? Watercooler and Internet talk these days focuses on really intriguey dramas. Well, that’s the zeitgeist now, I guess.
Do I recommend it? If you can find it for $1.50 without shipping and handling, hey, why not?
Books mentioned in this review: