Book review: Seinfeldia
‘How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything’
Starting with Jerry and Larry David brainstorming ideas for a sitcom and ending with Seinfeld2000 and Seinfeld and Jason Alexander’s Super Bowl commercial reunion, Seinfeldia takes the reader on a chronological tour of Seinfeld. I couldn’t put this book down and finished it mostly in a weekend. It’s a fun trip back in time to the ’90s and through today, as Seinfeld never really ended.
Overall, the book focuses mostly on Seinfeld’s place and impact on network TV and pop culture history. To me, the most interesting part of the book focuses on the creative process and how much Larry David and the writers mined their own life experiences. I knew Seinfeld was meta, I just didn’t realize it was THIS meta. Seinfeld mirrored reality, and reality mirrored Seinfeld, in a bizzaro world kind of way.
The Kramer tours on the show, for example, were a reflection of the real-life (Kenny) Kramer tours which were made possible by Seinfeld’s dramatized depiction of the real-life Kramer. This alternative blended reality between real and fiction is what Jennifer Keishin Armstrong refers to as “Seinfeldia.” The parody-of-a-parody-parody Twitter account Seinfeld2000 reflects this world that we now live in with jokes that are wrapped in so many layers you tend to forget where fiction ends and reality begins.
My only wish is the book would have dug a little bit deeper into the heads, motivation and creative process of the writers, actors and creators. But like the real Seinfeld, Seinfeldia resists too much sentimental “hugging and learning” and puts the performance front and center. Nearly 20 years after Seinfeld ended, Seinfeldia is still a funny, somewhat dark and entertaining place to visit.