It`s All About Nothing
Seinfeld stood out from the many family and group sitcoms of its time. None of the principal Seinfeld characters were related by blood or type but remained close friends throughout the seasons. The episodes of most sitcoms like Family Ties, Who's the Boss? and Full House revolve around a central theme or contrived comic situations, whereas many episodes of Seinfeld focused on minutiae, such as waiting in line at the movies, going out for dinner, buying a suit and dealing with the petty injustices of life. The view presented in Seinfeld is arguably consistent with the philosophy of nihilism, the idea that life is pointless.[
The show's main characters and many secondary characters were modeled after Seinfeld's and David's real-life acquaintances. Two recurring characters were based on well-known people: Jacopo Peterman of the J. Peterman catalog (based on John Peterman), and George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees.
With every Seinfeld episode, the structure is mainly the way the principal characters' storyline is set. A story thread is presented at the beginning of each episode, which involves the characters in separate and seemingly unrelated situations. Rapid scene-shifts between story lines bring the stories together toward the end of the episode. Despite the separate plot strands, the narratives reveal the creators' consistent efforts to maintain the intimacy between the small cast of characters.
The show kept a strong sense of continuity—characters and plots from past episodes were frequently referenced or expanded upon. Occasionally, story arcs would span multiple episodes and even entire seasons. For example, Jerry's girlfriend appears in The Stake Out and he ends the relationship when things do not work out in The Stock Tip . Other examples were Kramer getting his jacket back and Elaine heading the Peterman catalog. Larry David, the show's head writer and executive producer for the first seven seasons, was praised for keeping a close eye on minor details and making sure the main characters' lives remained consistent and believable. Curb Your Enthusiasm—David's later comedy series—would further expand on this idea by following a certain theme for each season in the series.
The show stood apart from other group sitcoms of the time, in that the principal characters would never learn their moral lessons throughout the seasons. In effect, they were indifferent to the outside world and can be callous towards their guest characters and relatives, indeed sometimes to each other; a mantra of the show's producers was: No hugging, no learning. There were also very few happy endings, except when they came at somebody else's expense. More often, situations resolved with characters getting a justly deserved comeuppance.
Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld)—He is a stand-up comedian who is often portrayed as the voice of reason amidst all the insanity generated by the people in his world. The character is a slight germophobe and a neat freak, as well as an avid Superman and breakfast cereal fan. Jerry's apartment is the center of a world visited by his eccentric friends George, Elaine, and Kramer. Plot lines often involve Jerry's romantic relationships. He typically finds small, silly reasons to stop dating women; some of the reasons for the breakups include his dislike for a woman because she eats her peas one at a time, a woman having over-sized man hands and a woman having an annoying laugh.
George Costanza (Jason Alexander)—George is Jerry's best friend. He is cheap, dishonest, petty and often envious of others' achievements. He is often portrayed as a loser who is insecure about his capabilities. He frequently complains and lies about his profession, relationships, and almost everything else, which usually creates trouble for him later. He often uses an alias (Art Vandelay) when lying or concocting a cover story. George was once succinctly described by Elaine as a short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man. Despite these shortcomings, George managed to date numerous women and achieved a successful career as Assistant to the Traveling Secretary for the New York Yankees. During the run of the show, he and Jerry work with NBC to produce a Pilot episode. During this time, he meets Susan Ross who works for NBC. George has an on and off relationship with her before Susan dies right before their wedding. He often pretends to be an architect and once pretended to be a marine biologist to impress a woman.
Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)—Elaine is Jerry's ex-girlfriend. She is intelligent and assertive, but superficial. She sometimes has a tendency to be very honest with people, which often gets her into trouble. She often gets caught up in her boyfriends' habits, her eccentric employers' unusual demands, and the unkindness of total strangers. A recurring theme for Elaine is her frustrating inability to find Mr. Right; she also goes through an on/off relationship with David Puddy throughout season 9. One of Elaine's trademark moves is her forceful shove while screaming get out when she receives good or shocking news. Another is her memorable dance moves little kicks. She is the only woman who is able to get along as one of the boys.
Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards)—Kramer is Jerry's wacky neighbor. His trademarks include his humorous upright pompadour hairstyle, vintage clothing and his energetic sliding bursts through Jerry's apartment door. At times, he acts naive, dense, and almost child-like, yet randomly shows astonishing insight into human behavior. Indeed, his oddities aside, Kramer is often the only main character acting with any sort of apparent conscience, and is typically the only one to lobby for maintaining social decorum in order to appease acquaintances. Although he never holds a steady job, he often invents wacky schemes which usually work at first but eventually fail in the end. Among these are coffee table books about coffee tables (for which he appeared on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee), an entrepreneurial venture called Kramerica in which he and an intern proposed lining an oil rig with a large rubber bladder, and a brassiere for men called the Bro (or Manssiere suggested by Frank Costanza).
Newman (portrayed by Wayne Knight)—An overweight and despicable, though curiously well-educated, postal worker. He is known as Kramer's accomplice and Jerry's nemesis and is a neighbor of both (Apartment 5E). He usually goes out of his way to make Jerry's life miserable. He also loves eating and being obnoxious in Jerry's apartment. He is the most frequently recurring character, from his first appearance in the show's third season through to the last episode.
Morty Seinfeld (originally portrayed by Phil Bruns, replaced by Barney Martin) and Helen Seinfeld (portrayed by Liz Sheridan)—They are Jerry's parents, who live in Florida. Morty is a retired raincoat salesman, the inventor of a beltless trenchcoat and famous for obstinately sticking to his convictions; Helen cannot understand why anyone would not like her son. They always feel that Jerry is not making enough money and try to help him out financially by sending him fifty dollars. These two characters are based on Jerry Seinfeld's real-life parents.
Frank Costanza (originally portrayed by John Randolph, replaced by Jerry Stiller) and Estelle Costanza (portrayed by Estelle Harris)—They are George's eccentric parents. George usually blames them for his current mental state and failure to succeed in life. They are known for their violent tempers, often leading to yelling and constant verbal fights. They make many appearances from season 4 to 9. John Randolph's scenes as Frank Costanza in the episode The Handicap Spot were reshot for syndication with Jerry Stiller in the role.
Uncle Leo (portrayed by Len Lesser)— He is Jerry's eccentric uncle. He keeps mentioning about his son, Jeffrey, who works in the NYC Parks Department. He is often seen as saying Hello in his trademark style whenever he sees Jerry. He appears in several episodes from season 2 to 9.Susan Ross (played by Heidi Swedberg)—George's fiancée and a former NBC executive. She first appeared in season 4 as an NBC executive overseeing Jerry and George's pilot. She and George dated for a while until she broke up with him because he got her fired. She returned in season 7 when she and George get engaged. In the last episode of this season, she dies as a result of licking toxic envelopes while making invitations to her and George's wedding. She is the most frequent recurring female character in seasons 4 and 7 and has a brief appearance again in a flashback sequence in the season 9 episode titled The Betrayal.
George Steinbrenner (voiced by Larry David, portrayed by Lee Bear, who is only seen from behind)—He is George's boss and owner of the New York Yankees. Steinbrenner's face is never shown on the show. He is parodied for his arrogance and lack of touch with the realities of running of a baseball team. A recurring gag is for him to call George into his office, then proceed to ramble on about inane topics as George slowly walks out the door. He frequently appears from the finale of season 5 to season 9. The real George Steinbrenner appeared in only one episode as himself. All other appearances were played by an actor and voiced by Larry David.
Jacopo Peterman (played by John O'Hurley)—He is one of Elaine's eccentric bosses. Peterman owns The J. Peterman Company and Elaine works on the catalog published by the company. Using the florid style of a treasure hunting adventurer, he typically announces his journeys to exotic locations in search of unique clothing. In the beginning of Season 8, he walks out on the company and escapes to Burma, appointing Elaine as the President of the company. He eventually returns later in the same season. He is frequently seen making an appearance from the finale of season 6 to season 9.
David Puddy (portrayed by Patrick Warburton)—Puddy is Elaine's on-again, off-again boyfriend. He is a competent auto mechanic, but also an airhead with numerous quirks, most notably his squinting, staring, and insatiable appetite for high fives. He is known for his short, unapologetic delivery and unflinching assuredness. His trademark catch phrase is Yeah, that's right. He appears in two episodes near the end of season 6 and in eight episodes of season 9.
Jackie Chiles (portrayed by Phil Morris)—Jackie is Kramer's lawyer. He has a secretary named Suzy and sets up appointments for his clients with an unseen Dr. Bison. He also speaks with a rapid-fire delivery and tends to overuse adjectives like 'preposterous' and 'outrageous'. Chiles is a caricature of Johnnie Cochran. He appears in five episodes between seasons 7 to 9.
See also Seinfeld trailer
Director(s):Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld
Cast:Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Wayne Knight, Phil Bruns, Len Lesser, Patrick Warburton