“Seinfeld” Reunion: “Something Has to Happen”

From Left to Right: Kramer (Michael Richards), George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Jerry Seinfeld who portrayed a fictional version of himself on the show. Photo from IMDb

*spoiler alert: Details of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Seinfeld finale will be revealed

Seinfeld, a show about nothing, ended with the cast being thrown in jail. That ending didn’t vibe well with most viewers and critics. Looking for redemption, Seinfeld Co-Creator and Head Writer Larry David and the Seinfeld cast did a Reunion that was meant to serve as a sort of redo of the finale. Although some felt under any circumstances this was a play far too late, some viewers saw this as a genuine opportunity to get the ending they deserved. Unfortunately, Larry David’s Seinfeld finale is a reach at best and a failure at worst.

The biggest fail is Jerry and Elaine’s child to whom Jerry is the sperm donor. By the end of the episode, the girl finds out the truth. When enjoying media, the viewer is expected to suspend disbelief. But asking the viewer to believe Jerry and Elaine would make a baby together is asking the viewer to disregard every principle of the Seinfeld Universe.

their story unforgivably breaks the law of nothing happening.

Jerry and Elaine broke the law of nothing happening by producing what would have to be an instrumental character to their Universe. It changes everything in the mind of the viewer. Questions like what happens with Jerry and Elaine now must be asked under a different lens. They are no longer just friends. They’re coparents. What does that mean for their friendship? What are the implications? Does this change the tone of their relationship?

The beautiful thing about the Seinfeld Universe as George Costanza so eloquently puts it is, nothing happens. The characters of this show live in a sealed loop where every decision leads them back to square one. But with Jerry and Elaine having a child, their story unforgivably breaks the law of nothing happening. The viewers are dropped off in what feels like an alternate Seinfeld Universe, the Bizarro Seinfeld Universe Jerry once feared.

It’s those magnifying moments of minute issues that transport viewers.

George’s being divorced and poor after losing his money to Madoff seems like something George Costanza would do; attempting to get his ex m-wife back to have access to some of the money he lost in the divorce makes sense. Is this the George Constanza — this poor, scheming man who’s lost it all — the George Costanza a cult follower would imagine a decade later? I’d argue yes. George has always managed to get it all and lose it before he could enjoy it.

The problem with this storyline is, it’s too much for George Constanza. The stakes are too high. He’s lost too much. In other words, something happened to the King of “Nothing happens.”

What continues to make viewers of all age groups tune in is the high emphasis placed on low stakes. It’s those magnifying moments of minute issues that transport viewers from their everyday high-stakes struggles. After a long day of tip-toying the company line while trying not to lose it all, they flop down on their couch and watch the Seinfeld foursome magically make something out of nothing back into nothing.

there is no such thing as “nothing”

Seinfeld episode “The Opposite” is a microcosm of what the Seinfeld Universe is. In this episode, Jerry comes to realize that he’s always put back in the same position as he started. Elaine proves this when she throws Jerry’s $20 bill out the window and Jerry finds another $20 in his jacket pocket. A woman walks out of George’s life, and he bumps into another on the train. Elaine loses a job and gets another. Kramer works periodically but always stops.

Although entertaining, Larry David’s Seinfeld reunion is a reach and a fail. The stakes are too high. Too much happens. Still, some would ask, what would viewers expect of the Seinfeld cast a decade later? In scientific terms, there is no such thing as “nothing”, but there is always “something”. So, maybe it’s as Jerry argued when he and George debated the idea they would present to NBC executives as Jerry’s show: “Something has to happen.”

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Published by Professor J

Professor J is a professor, author, poet and screenwriter.

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