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Thursday, September 1, 2011

The "Seinfeld" Brouhaha.

I have been taking some hits lately in the comments section and with e-mails about my underwhelming feelings about "Seinfeld".
I'd like to elaborate, and perhaps set the record straight, as it has been a little crooked:

I think "Seinfeld' is at least one of the five greatest sitcoms of all time.
I think it has, in Larry David, one of three greatest Show Runners of all time.
Present company excepted.
It has always made me laugh out loud. Hard. All the time.
It has perhaps the greatest set of supporting characters ever to support anyone.
Some of my favorite actors.
Estelle Harris, who played George Costanza's mother, appeared in a staged reading of one of my plays.
If you've seen me write about my mother and ever wondered what she looks and sounds like, just think of Estelle Harris.
She was a dead ringer for my mother.
This play was autobiographical, and several of my relatives were there.
As soon as Estelle hit the stage, my family freaked out.
Since the play starred Larry Miller, Jerry Seinfeld, a good friend of his, was in attendance.
It was most-likely the first time he laid eyes on Estelle Harris.

"Seinfeld"s main strength was it's story architechture.
They managed to weave four stories into each episode, and build them into a pyramid that paid off all four stories at the top of it.
One of the by-products of this is that you can watch any episode of "Seinfeld' and not remember that it was the one that contained
certain specific story lines.
"Seinfeld" also contained no jokes.
Except when Jerry was doing standup.
All the humor was character and attitude.
I feel that it's a much higher form than set-up punchline.
To me, it's cleverness has only been surpassed by "Curb Your Enthusiasm", which employs many of the same techniques.
And that's a high-wire act because they work without a script.
Again, that's because they don't need jokes.

On "Seinfeld"s downside, Jerry was an embarrasingly bad actor.
You could frequently see him smirking after one of his own punchlines.
I think more judicious editing might have helped.
He needed the best supporting cast ever just to get him through.
That the show was that good in spite of it was a tribute to Larry David.

It reminds me of my favorite movie, "The Miracle Of Morgan's Creek", directed by Preston Sturges in the 1940's.
It starred Betty Hutton, arguably one of the worst actresses who ever became a movie star.
That the movie was that good, and starred her, was a tribute to Sturges.
There's a parallel there.

The argument about "Seinfeld" ensued because somebody tried to make the case that it represented the nineties, was the best show ever, and therefore the nineties were the Golden Age Of Television.
To which I replied and will reply again, "One show does not a Golden Age make."


My new book, "Mark Rothman's Essays", ones that were culled from the blog and are no longer there, along with a surprise bonus, is available for purchase.
Please e-mail me at for more info.



  1. Larry David wasn't there for the last two seasons of Seinfeld, and I think it hurt the show a bit, though it still remained funny.

  2. I agree on Jerry"s acting skills, but I think it fit in perfectly. By the By, What is your favorite Comedy of all time? Darryl.

  3. From watching some of the DVD extras, it seems that Jerry , in particular, had a very hard time keeping a straight face. He must have been an editor's nightmare. I see some of the same thing on "Curb" with Larry David. Hard to blame them, both shows are very funny.

    So, in your opinion, what are the five best sitcoms of all time? I'll hang up and wait for your answer.

  4. Regarding Betty Hutton: I think you're right on the money; "Morgan's Creek" is the only movie of hers that I can stand to watch. Perhaps this is because there are so many other people in it that (as I recall) she's not on screen all the time. (As the years go by, I appreciate folks like William Demarest -- and, from "The Lady Eve," Eugene Pallette -- more and more.)

    Then again, I suppose that, in a way, Preston Sturges, during his heyday, was the real star of his movies, and rightly so.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."