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Information about SeinfeldSeinfeld is an American TV sitcom that originally aired on NBC from Jul. 5, 1989 (28 years ago), to May 14, 1998 (19 years ago), lasting nine seasons, and is now in syndication. The eponymous series was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, with the latter starring as a fictionalized version of himself. Set predominantly in an apartment block on New York City's Upper West Side (but shot mainly in Los Angeles, California), the show features a host of Jerry's friends and acquaintances, who include George Costanza, Elaine Benes and Cosmo Kramer. Seinfeld was produced by Castle Rock Entertainment and distributed in association with Columbia pictures (wallpaper) TV and Columbia TriStar TV. Sony pictures (wallpaper) TV has distributed the series since 2002 (15 years ago). It was largely co-written by David and Seinfeld with input from numerous script writers, including Larry Charles, Peter Mehlman, Gregg Kavet, Andy Robin, Carol Leifer, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer, Steve Koren, Jennifer Crittenden, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Charlie Rubin, Alec Berg, and Spike Feresten.
As a critical favorite, commercial blockbuster and cultural phenomenon, the show led the Arthur Nielsen Media Research Ratings in its sixth and ninth seasons and finished among the top two (along with NBC's ER) every year from 1994 (23 years ago) to 1998 (19 years ago). In 2002 (15 years ago), TV Guide named Seinfeld as the greatest TV program of all time. In 2008 (9 years ago), Entertainment Weekly ranked Seinfeld as the third best show of the last 25 years, behind The Sopranos and The Simpsons.
HistoryJerry Seinfeld and Larry David pitched Seinfeld as a "show about nothing," similar to the self-parodying "show within a show" of Season 4's finale "The Pilot." Seinfeld stood out from the many family and group sitcoms of its time. None of the principal Seinfeld characters were related by blood or worked together 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, basically, coping 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.
Originally, the show began with Jerry Seinfeld performing his stand-up comedy routine set in a comedy night club. The plot of each episode is loosely based on the theme of his act. In early episodes, his stand-up act would bookend an episode, for a while even functioning as cut scenes during the show. By Season 4, the cut scenes in the middle of the episodes became less common and by Season 6 the comedy-act clips that ended the shows also became less common. With Larry David's departure at Season 8, the stand-ups are no longer there, leaving Jerry to focus more on the story.
The show's main characters and many secondary characters were modeled after Seinfeld's and David's real-life acquaintances. Other recurring characters were based on well-known, real-life counterparts such as Jacopo Peterman of the J. Peterman catalogue (nominally 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. 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. He would later make use of season-long story arcs in his next series, Curb Your Enthusiasm.
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. It was often said that the 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)—Jerry is the show's central character, 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; in one episode, he breaks up with a woman because she eats her peas one at a time; in another, it is because, although a beautiful model, she has overly-large "man hands."
- George Costanza (Jason Alexander)—George is Jerry's best friend since high school. 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, or perhaps because of them, George managed to date numerous women and achieved a very successful career as Assistant to the Traveling Secretary for the New York Yankees. George's personality shortcomings usually make these successes short-lived. He fantasizes about being and occasionally pretends to be an architect and once pretended to be a marine biologist.
- Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)—Elaine 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 Seasons 6 and 9. She used to date Jerry, and remains his close friend. One of Elaine's trademark maneuvers is her forceful shove when she receives good or shocking news while using her catch phrase "Get out!"; Another is her memorable "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" and friend. 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 at the end. Among these are coffee table books about coffee tables (for which he appeared on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee), and a brassiere for men called the "Bro" (or Manssiere according to Frank Costanza).
- Newman (portrayed by Wayne Knight)—An overweight and despicable, though curiously well-educated postal worker. He is Kramer's accomplice and Jerry's nemesis and is a neighbor of both (Apartment 5E). He goes out of his way to make Jerry's life miserable. He is typically found plotting against Jerry, eating, and being obnoxious in Jerry's apartment. He is the most frequently recurring character, from his first appearance in the show's season three 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 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 uncle and Helen's brother. He personifies the eccentric old man and often tries to demean Jerry with comparisons to his own purportedly successful son. He has a habit of grabbing the arm of the person with whom he is conversing. He always brags about his son, Jeffrey (who never makes an appearance on the show), who works for the NYC Parks Department. Uncle Leo has several appearances in seasons 2 through 9. His trademark catch phrase is an emphatic, "Hello!"
- 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 got 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. Throughout the series, Susan does not get along well with Elaine and Jerry, and dislikes Kramer due to variety of reasons. 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. In "The Invitations," the real George Steinbrenner makes a cameo appearance and goes out with Elaine. The scenes were cut due to time constraints and are available on the season 7 DVD. He frequently appears from the finale of season 5 to 9.
- 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.
- Kenny Bania (portrayed by Steve Hytner)—Bania is a fellow stand up comedian. Jerry hates Bania because he considers him annoying and a "hack." Bania has a tendency to describe various things (namely restaurants) as "The best!" Bania's trademark "Hey Jerry!" is often treated by Jerry and his friends with annoyance and indifference. Kenny Bania appears in various episodes throughout seasons 6 through 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 when he's promoted to salesman at a car dealership. He is known for his short, unapologetic delivery and unflinching assuredness. His trademark catch phrase is "Yeah, that's right." He is seen in seasons 6 and 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 grandiose adjectives like 'preposterous' and 'outrageous'. Chiles is a caricature of Johnnie Cochran. He is seen occasionally in seasons 7 to 9.
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