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Seinfeld's Impact On American Culture Essay

2360 words - 9 pages

Seinfeld's Impact on American Culture

Jerry Seinfeld's television sitcom, "Seinfeld," which went off the air in 1999, is still one of the most culturally pertinent shows today. The show dealt with little nuances of American society. A puffy shirt, for example, could be the main subject for an entire show. This show, which was derived from Jerry Seinfeld's observational humor, was voted as the "Greatest Show of All Time" by TV Guide in 2002. According to the show's official website, the ratings for the syndicated version of Seinfeld are ahead of many of the current primetime comedies ("Seinfeld" 2/5).

"Seinfeld" was always present in my home during its nine-year run on Thursday nights as "Must See TV," and the social commentary was welcome humor. However, not everyone was thrilled by Seinfeld's prominence in American society and the subject matter with which Seinfeld dealt. Many Christians, Jews and other minorities had problems with the show's portrayal of their respective groups. Despite criticism from ethnic and religious groups, Jerry Seinfeld and his show were possibly the best sources of social commentary that America's mainstream had to offer. The show is missed in today's current television line-up and no post-"Seinfeld" sitcom has come to the same level of cultural criticism.

Born in Massapequa, New York in 1954, Seinfeld soon discovered the attention that making jokes could garner him, and he admits to having been a class clown throughout his education. After college, Seinfeld starting touring the nation's comedy clubs and college campuses with his odd brand of observational humor. Seinfeld would notice something from society, someone who talked too close to another person for example, and he would do ten minutes of stand-up comedy about it. He was determined to make a career in stand-up, and he hoped that his attention to detail would propel him to fame. Of his obsessive nature his mother said: "He never wanted just a piece of chocolate cake, it was the whole cake. And he always waited until he got what he wanted" ("Jerry Seinfeld" 1/7).

Soon Seinfeld's easy-to-relate to humor gave way to regular appearances on "The Tonight Show" and "Late Night with David Letterman." Other more gimmicky comedians failed the test of time, but Seinfeld's steadfast style made his popularity bloom. Despite national exposure, Seinfeld still stayed close to his roots, continuing to play at small venues as well as on television. With jokes like: "They say Tide cleans bloodstains. I say if you've got a T-shirt with bloodstains, then maybe laundry isn't your biggest problem" ("Jerry Seinfeld" 3/7) it's not hard to see why Seinfeld caught on.

In 1990, "Seinfeld," a sitcom based on Seinfeld's humor, debuted as a summer replacement show. Seinfeld allowed characters on the show to embody some of the idiosyncrasies his stand-up comedy had observed. Seinfeld played himself on the show, and the other characters on the...

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