I don’t even drink wine. I drink Pepsi.
You can’t bring Pepsi.
Because we’re adults?
You’re telling me that wine is better than Pepsi? Huh, no way is wine better than Pepsi.
I’m telling you George, I don’t think we want to walk in there and put a big plastic jug of Pepsi on the table.
I just don’t like the idea that every time there is a dinner invitation there’s this annoying little chore that goes along with it.
You know, you’re getting to be an annoying little chore yourself.
Seinfeld‘s chief argument about being a ‘show about nothing’ has always been one that can’t wholesale be trusted. Firstly, its ‘nothing’ is one of purely philosophical meander; the discussion of the weighty on the topic of the mundane. Its ‘nothing’ is purely topics deemed ‘trivial’ by most, but often not in the least when contemplation occurs. Perhaps that is what Seinfeld was always getting at, but then they themselves confuse the point, when, in pitching the hypothetical fake show to NBC they don’t say merely, “we’ll do a show about nothing…” but they add on the implied action of, “everybody does something, we’ll do nothing”. The confusion is right there; though the show constantly and consistently showed that their nothingness is contemplative in nature they point that it’s first and foremost a lack of action, a lack of doing and showing, which as I’ll show in point two was never really the case. They state that other shows were doing something, when one looks at the nature of television comedy (or even drama) from the era, most were doing very little on the point that Seinfeld was generally making.
Secondly, and most importantly, if often wasn’t about nothing. As these pieces have shown, the episodes where filled to the brim with plot lines and situations, perhaps based on trivial ‘nothingness’, but if the ‘about nothing’ ideology is to be used as a signifier of how Seinfeld is different, I can’t see the nothingness of their jam packed plots as any more trivial to life’s mundanities than say the ones presented in Cheers. I suppose you could see a break from the organization of most typical sitcoms being around a specific (work) environment (Cheers had the bar, Taxi had the garage, Wings a small airport hangar, etc) to which the show got its thrust and united characters that wouldn’t normally exist in such regularity together. Seinfeld‘s ‘nothingness’ was the plainness of a small living room then (or a booth in a simple diner), which again, doesn’t seem all that unique to many shows (All in the Family, or its predecessor, The Honeymooners, saw much of the action presented inside a living room). When you go down this path, the thought most urgently becomes the Seinfeld‘s that are radically ordered within a single setting, with an actual ‘nothingness’ to the plot (and, it’d be here I’d think that Larry David, as George, had his sights set on when the idea was pitched). I’m thinking of episodes like ‘The Chinese Restaurant’ (Season 2, episode 16), or ‘The Parking Garage’ (Season 3, episode 23), or perhaps even ‘The Parking Space’ (Season 3, episode 39), but then, what of a stated thesis that only appears less than a half-dozen times in 9 seasons? But, I suppose it is enough, when they are watched and seen to be how radical they actually are, and, surprisingly how funny too (though with the brilliance of this show I suppose maybe it is of no surprise. But I do mean, just how much humor and situation is wrung from the these simple episodes). Then, there is the crème de la crème of this sub-genre of Seinfeld episodes, the truly intricate void of Season 5’s ‘The Dinner Party’. An episode so strikingly modern (I’ll avoid the post-modern semantics for now), as if to be happening on the streets right below my computer perch that I sit at and write this very sentence.