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Seinfeld: "Jerry the Great" re-cut trailer
January 26, 2011 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Seinfeld: "Jerry the Great" re-cut trailer
posted by Avenger50 (91 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't remember if there was an obit thread or not - but the elderly gentleman giving an Emmy-nominated performance at 1:08 died recently.

God, he was hilarious in that scene.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:26 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by jquinby at 10:28 AM on January 26, 2011


That would be Mr. Bill Erwin.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:28 AM on January 26, 2011


One of the strangest, funniest things about Seinfeld is how poorly that show has aged, and how its real comic legacy will be all the ways it gets recut into trailers and promos for much funnier, darker and more interesting shows that never existed and never will.

It's oddly fitting that the legacy of a show about nothing will be found in other shows that don't actually exist.
posted by mhoye at 10:30 AM on January 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


I find old Seinfeld episodes unwatchable today even though I loved the series to death back when it was new, but god that was a great fake trailer cut. I can't imagine how much time and effort went into making it.
posted by mathowie at 10:30 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was well done--I love these recut trailers (Shining especially).

But oh my god, I am thankful my Seinfeld watching days are more than a decade behind me. Dark days, dark days.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:31 AM on January 26, 2011


...how poorly that show has aged...

Holy cow I couldn't disagree more.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:32 AM on January 26, 2011 [38 favorites]


Holy cow I couldn't disagree more.

I almost never watch the show any more - but that's because I essentially have the entire series committed to memory at this point. I mean, for just about every clip they used, I could tell you what the characters are saying (even though I can't read lips), in what context, and other funny stuff from that episode.

And Mrs. Beese and I still use phrases from the show as part of our everyday marital discourse. If I make her a cup of tea, she'll say - as Kramer did of the rogue electrician Slippery Pete - "You're the best. And the worst."

In other words: I think it has aged just fine.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:41 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, what's not to age well? Everything in there is timelessly New Yorkianhuman.
posted by DU at 10:44 AM on January 26, 2011


And remember, somewhere George is still master of his own domain.
posted by Ber at 10:46 AM on January 26, 2011


..how poorly that show has aged...

Agree and disagree. The last three or so seasons suck now, but that's because they suck then.

And I somewhat agree that the show isn't that much fun to watch anymore, simply because it was so original and it's influence is so huge. It's kind of like going back and watching movies by Edison or the Lumiere Brothers. They don't seem good or interesting by today's standards, but without them everything that came after would have been impossible.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:47 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just to name one example, something as unconventional as "The Office" would certainly never have been on American TV if "Seinfeld" hadn't paved the way.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:48 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


...how poorly that show has aged...

Maybe in your house. I can watch any episode, anytime and still laugh. I've seen them all countless times.
posted by davebush at 10:48 AM on January 26, 2011 [12 favorites]


Bah, it's aged fine. Better than Friends, I'd wager (full disclosure: never seen a moment of Friends).

Mrs. Augustus and I were never huge into Seinfeld in the old days, but it was so consistently funny that we have deliberately undertaken a bit of a Netflix-assisted Seinfeld renaissance.
posted by AugieAugustus at 10:49 AM on January 26, 2011


You could always watch
Seinfeld in the original Yiddish.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:54 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


...how poorly that show has aged...

Holy cow I couldn't disagree more.


Yeah, no doubt. A lot of elements of Seinfeld (including entire episodes and multi-episode themes) are still hilarious. Sure, the style and fashion of the early years have "aged poorly"; the first couple of seasons were filmed in the 80s! And some of the really banal "observational" humor was kinda crappy to begin with, the stuff along the lines of "Did you ever notice that 'salsa' sounds like 'seltzer'? What's UP with THAT?" etc.

I think ultimately my favorite thing about Seinfeld, as a whole, is that it dared to admit that sometimes, humor is really mean-spirited. It was definitely not one of those sitcoms that wrapped everything up into a happy-ending package at the end of every episode, like a lot of the other contemporary drivel such as "Charles in Charge," "My 3 Dads," etc (and hey, if you liked those, more power - just gotta admit that they were saccharine and formulaic). Whereas in Seinfeld, Newman hated Jerry. Jerry hated Tim Watley. Elaine was not particularly fond of George. George was just a total asshole as a general matter (and his relationship with his parents was terrible - pathetically, desperately, realistically terrible).

Elaine had a vapid, on-again-off-again relationship with Puddy, who she ultimately kind of despised. Everyone was avaricious, and George openly sought jobs where he could put in the bare minimum amount of work and still live well in the city. They engaged in vicious gossip about anyone and everyone every day in the coffee shop. And it was hilarious! When it's other people bickering with their friends and slacking off at work, it's funny. It's not NICE, but it's funny.

And I know I should feel bad about watching Michael Richards these days, but really the Kramer character was pretty brilliant. I think everyone who's lived and worked in a big city has known someone like that, in the sense of being a total oddball, doing random one-off jobs, with no career or substantial support means to speak of, but always coming up with brilliant/crazy ideas, and seeming to know everyone. And to top it off he was a very orthodox embodiment of the Vaudeville pratfall guy, with a very physical schtick. I suppose that latter is an acquired taste (and not as popular lately as more fart-oriented physical humor), but he executed it brilliantly.
posted by rkent at 10:57 AM on January 26, 2011 [26 favorites]


Hey, that was pretty fun!

The Seinfeld aging thing is a strange thing. It looks pathetically dated, of course (mock turtlenecks ahoy!), and many of the little irritations and archetypical exchanges it celebrated are total non-starters now (how many of those plots would have been solved with a cell phone?). It was a show that hinged on the minutiae of daily life; of course it becomes less relevant as daily life changes.

But that's just trappings. I think Seinfeld did best when the jokey situation was an expression of some deep human urge that we can all identify with - laziness, greediness, pettiness, awkwardness, sexual (in)compatibility - magnified to comic extremes. The whole rye thing, George lying about the Hamptons, girlfriend with one dress, the airport pickup because George bet he could jump to touch an awning, I'm chuckling right now. It's still pretty great.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:57 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Better than Friends, I'd wager (full disclosure: never seen a moment of Friends).

Seems like an odd wager to make then.

I still find the odd episode of Seinfeld enjoyable, but it was pointed out recently (may have even been by someone on MeFi, I can't recall) that a huge number of Seinfeld plots would have not existed given the existence of a mobile phone, which I found amusing.
posted by modernnomad at 10:58 AM on January 26, 2011


I'd have to say much of the comedy in Seinfeld may not be appealing any more because so much of it has been appropriated into our culture.

I asked an older friend about Laugh-In once. God, the show is horrible. She pointed out that at the time, it was so ground breaking, so unusual, it really made an impact. It didn't age well, though. Similarly, Seinfeld is surreal, though it appears to be about human nature. I think time will be kinder to Seinfeld than it has been to Laugh-In.

Have you ever watched The Honeymooners? Does anyone not totally cringe when Jackie Gleason threatens to send Alice "to the moon"? Isn't that show is supposed to be epitome of TV timeless?

Ah, back on topic, this mashup was better than I expected - the editing paired with the ominous swelling of the music, was superlative.
posted by Xoebe at 11:02 AM on January 26, 2011


Put me in the Seinfeld's Aged Fine group. I've been thinking of rewatching the show (whole series on DVD at my house! whoo!) and this is a good excuse to do so.

For these trailers, though, I'd love to see them processed in some sort of After Effects-type app to make it look more film-y and less BRIGHT LIGHTS SITCOM-y. And, that being said:

That's a great trailer.
posted by grubi at 11:04 AM on January 26, 2011


a huge number of Seinfeld plots would have not existed given the existence of a mobile phone

90% of TV and 100% of movies, either. I've been watching old Rockford episodes recently and holy crap it's about 75% watching people drive and wondering if they'll notice they are being followed. Another 10% is talking on payphones.
posted by DU at 11:05 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I asked an older friend about Laugh-In once. God, the show is horrible. She pointed out that at the time, it was so ground breaking, so unusual, it really made an impact. It didn't age well, though.

Don't you get it? The mailbox was Haldeman!
posted by grubi at 11:05 AM on January 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I still find the odd episode of Seinfeld enjoyable, but it was pointed out recently (may have even been by someone on MeFi, I can't recall) that a huge number of Seinfeld plots would have not existed given the existence of a mobile phone, which I found amusing.

You could say the same about Hitchcock, or for that matter most of Shakespeare's tragedies.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:05 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


holy crap it's about 75% watching people drive and wondering if they'll notice they are being followed. Another 10% is talking on payphones.

I noticed the same thing. Of course, I believe 90% of comedy movies and shows would be eliminated if people would simply TELL THE TRUTH about whatever weirdness occurred rather than fucking around with elaborate schemes to hide the truth.
posted by grubi at 11:07 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


You could say the same about Hitchcock, or for that matter most of Shakespeare's tragedies.

"JOOLS: im fakin bein ded. don't suicide. luv ya ROMES"
posted by grubi at 11:08 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's a mountain of TV and movie plots from the past that fall apart when transported to present day. That doesn't make them invalid.
posted by davebush at 11:08 AM on January 26, 2011


I just want to say that here in the office our send mail server is named Newman and it pleases me to no end.
posted by kbanas at 11:08 AM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've tried to get my 16 y.o. daughter to watch Seinfeld, and she just doesn't get it... calls it "that old people show." OTOH, my 10 y.o. son has a friend (who, granted, is a weirdo) who can recite intricate plot points for just about every episode.

I still watch it, just about every night. Last night was the one where George has the affair with the cleaning lady:

Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon... you know, cause I've worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 11:10 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seinfeld is like the Talmud for me. I can go back and study its pages over and over.
posted by HeroZero at 11:20 AM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Does anyone not totally cringe when Jackie Gleason threatens to send Alice "to the moon"? Isn't that show is supposed to be epitome of TV timeless?

It is, and I don't.

Since Ralph is a coward who would never lay a finger on Alice despite all his threats, a better example might be when Ricky spanks Lucy.

It's not presented as ZOMG SPOUSAL ABUSE! and I feel no obligation to impose that interpretation on it.

To varying extents, an appreciation of any work of art requires a temporary adoption of the artist's value system. Unless you believe - at least while the play is being performed - that proper burial of the dead is extremely important, Antigone just doesn't make any sense.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:22 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just to name one example, something as unconventional as "The Office" would certainly never have been on American TV if "Seinfeld" hadn't paved the way.

If you want to see how strong the influence is, look how often The Office blatantly rips off specific jokes from Seinfeld.

The Office episode where Michael charges ahead when there's a fire in the office, leaving his employees behind, and afterwards he feebly tries to explain why he acted courageously ... There's a Seinfeld episode ("The Fire") where George does something very similar at his girlfriend's family's house.

Kevin getting a result of "negative" in his test for skin cancer and Michael being upset because he thinks that means "positive" ... There's a Seinfeld episode where George makes this mistake (in season 4, "The Pilot," when he's worried about a white discoloration on his lip).

Michael asking Pam to promise to have a baby with him if neither of them is married in 10 years, Pam says no, but Michael ups it to 20 and then 30 years and finally Pam says "sure" ... Same thing happened with Elaine and Kramer, except with getting married instead of having a baby (season 7).

These are just a few examples, all from memory; I've noticed several others.

Oh, and my experience is totally different from mhoye and mathowie's: Seinfeld still holds up great to me. The first two and last two seasons (1, 2, 8, and 9) are weaker than the others; that was always the case. The '90s fashions look dated (aside from Kramer's, ironically enough, since he's supposed to be the one who's weird and out of place), but that doesn't bother me. It doesn't have the subtlety and interesting closeups and camera angles of The Office, but again, The Office is standing on Seinfeld's shoulders.

I actually find it overwhelming how few duds there are in Seinfeld. From mid season 3 through season 7 is incredibly solid, with almost all the episodes being at least "pretty good" and often "great." By contrast, every season of The Office (American) has at least a few duds (especially their holiday-related episodes, for some reason).
posted by John Cohen at 11:28 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


My problem with Seinfeld is that they only seem to show certain, notable ones in the reruns: the Junior Mint, The Contest, The Yada-Yada, etc. -- all the famous ones that everyone remembers, but they don't seem to show entire seasons in order. Granted, I got the box set for Christmas a couple years ago so I can watch them whenever I want, but I'm far too lazy to be swapping DVDs all night like some kind of trained baboon. So I guess the problem is me. But still, I find the strength to complain.
posted by notmydesk at 11:29 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of how Seinfeld plots wouldn't work if they had cellphones, it works both ways.
posted by notmydesk at 11:31 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


a huge number of Seinfeld plots would have not existed given the existence of a mobile phone, which I found amusing.

They could have always gotten around this: your cell phone battery dies, you lose your phone, people don't have each other's numbers, there's no reception, etc.
posted by John Cohen at 11:32 AM on January 26, 2011


Metafilter: But still, I find the strength to complain.
posted by aught at 11:38 AM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh Moses smell the roses that was fantastic. So many of these re-cuts are absolutely horrible. I will NOT link it here because it's that bad, but look up Seinfeld meets The Office on YouTube. You will laugh and you will cry, but not for any of the right reasons.

I am in the 'watch it everyday and still love it' camp but I can understand the arguments for aging poorly. I wonder how much of that has to do with your mindset when you first watched it. It takes me back to riffing on new episodes after they aired with my dad and a great friend. I can still hear said friend (who's a fantastic actor which helps) reciting lines perfectly or even better than they were, from memory, after watching once.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 11:48 AM on January 26, 2011


We have a bar in our town called "Drake Tavern." When someone suggests going there, the effort it takes not to reply with...well, it is superhuman.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:55 AM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I LOVE THE DRAKE
posted by grubi at 11:58 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


(whew)
posted by grubi at 11:58 AM on January 26, 2011


The trailer for "George" was better
posted by raztaj at 12:00 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


As for Seinfeld's 90s fashion style being dated, the New York Times says the Elaine look is back in.
posted by ekroh at 12:04 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The one thing about Seinfeld that I found striking, and I mostly like Seinfeld unreservedly, is that the characters in the first season (and the first half of season two) actually come across as human. As they solidified into their character, they seemed to have lost most of the dimensionality they had. It didn't make the show worse, but it's interesting to wonder how the show might have developed had they not been such cartoon characters.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:22 PM on January 26, 2011


I think Seinfeld did best when the jokey situation was an expression of some deep human urge that we can all identify with - laziness, greediness, pettiness, awkwardness, sexual (in)compatibility - magnified to comic extremes.

Exactly. Whether or not it is enjoyable fifteen years after its apex is debatable (obviously), but I think a century or two hence it will be seized upon by social historians and anthropologists the way Victorian diaries are now: as windows into the minutiae of day-to-day life, with dogged examinations of the ramifications of re-gifting, having the this and the that, unvitations and so on.

By contrast, the other era-defining show of the nineties, The Simpsons, will be unwatchable in a couple of generations. My little brother was in primary school when it first aired, and he sees the early seasons as a mismatch of brilliant character humour and impenetrable references to Michael Dukakis and Fox Network "Search for Bigfoot" specials. It will be far, far worse than young me watching Porky Pig and daffy Dug in the seventies and trying to puzzle out the Bob Hope and Peter Lorre jokes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:49 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The one thing about Seinfeld that I found striking, and I mostly like Seinfeld unreservedly, is that the characters in the first season (and the first half of season two) actually come across as human.

Strangely enough, you can say the same thing about Friends (which, again, was heavily influenced by Seinfeld). Of course, those characters devolved into cartoons much quicker, IMO.
posted by muddgirl at 12:51 PM on January 26, 2011


It will be far, far worse than young me watching Porky Pig and daffy Dug in the seventies and trying to puzzle out the Bob Hope and Peter Lorre jokes.

I would say that Seinfeld has notably few "will make no sense at all unless you were paying attention to pop culture at the time" moments.

In one early episode, Kramer exhorts Jerry to do something by saying, 'It's the 90s. It's Hammer time."

In the episode where Elaine inadvertently costs Mayor Dinkins re-election with her suggestion that New Yorkers wear name tags to make the city a friendlier place, Jerry sarcastically imagines someone saying, "You know who I saw wilding last night? Herb!"

And the end of "The Caddy" when Kramer's flight from the police is shown with cuts of the O.J. Simpson freeway chase.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:04 PM on January 26, 2011


I think ultimately my favorite thing about Seinfeld, as a whole, is that it dared to admit that sometimes, humor is really mean-spirited. It was definitely not one of those sitcoms that wrapped everything up into a happy-ending package at the end of every episode, like a lot of the other contemporary drivel such as "Charles in Charge," "My 3 Dads," etc.

I've heard that one of Larry David's rules for the show was, "No hugging, no learning," to contrast with all of those 80s sitcoms where everyone hugs each other at the end and talks about what they've learned from trying caffeine pills or trying to make their girlfriend jealous or whatever.

Now, of course, pretty much no show does hugging and learning, which further shows how much of an impact Seinfeld had. It's pretty much the Citizen Kane of sitcoms.
posted by Copronymus at 1:06 PM on January 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


And another thought about the Hope and Lorre jokes...

It's one thing to learn that when Bugs puts on a tall hat decorated with fruit that he's impersonating someone named Carmen Miranda.

It's then another thing to realize that people may well have originally watched him do that while sitting in a movie theater waiting for a Carmen Miranda movie to start.

In effect, as riffs on pop culture, the Looney Tunes shorts were the nearest thing at the time to "The Simpsons".
posted by Joe Beese at 1:29 PM on January 26, 2011


a huge number of Seinfeld plots would have not existed given the existence of a mobile phone

Yes, and sherlock holmes, hercule poirot, and miss marple would be out of work given the existence of fingerprint and blood analysis.

So whats the fucking point?
posted by hal_c_on at 1:31 PM on January 26, 2011


So whats the fucking point?

No need to get testy! It's a common observation about Seinfeld plots - many of the most memorable ones specifically hinge on difficulties in communicating with someone who isn't immediately present - the one where they're lost in a parking garage, the one at the Chinese restaurant, the one where George and Kramer are supposed to pick Jerry up from the airport, etc. etc. etc.

Not that such plots are unworkable in modern television, just that when I go back and watch Seinfeld episodes it is almost quaint how many different plots can be structured almost specifically around the lack of an instantaneous communication device (where the lack of physcial means to communicate represents the character's general inability to talk to other people without dissembling).
posted by muddgirl at 1:47 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"The one thing about Seinfeld that I found striking, and I mostly like Seinfeld unreservedly, is that the characters in the first season (and the first half of season two) actually come across as human. As they solidified into their character, they seemed to have lost most of the dimensionality they had. It didn't make the show worse, but it's interesting to wonder how the show might have developed had they not been such cartoon characters."

I don't think it could have been as funny if they'd gone in a dramedy direction. It's like rkent touched on above: a lot of the humor comes from laughing at how terrible everyone is. If someone is supposed to be a clown they can get away with anything (and the more boundaries they break, the funnier it is), but characters that are supposed to act like real people have to grow and become socially acceptable, because the audience will never stay invested in a bunch of villains. Not for years, anyway.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:55 PM on January 26, 2011


...how poorly that show has aged...

Holy cow I couldn't disagree more.


Me too—it was awful when it first came out.

I've heard that one of Larry David's rules for the show was, "No hugging, no learning," to contrast with all of those 80s sitcoms where everyone hugs each other at the end and talks about what they've learned from trying caffeine pills or trying to make their girlfriend jealous or whatever.

Thanks for explaining that—along with other folks' observations about how the characters were pretty much one-dimensional for the majority of the show's duration, this explains exactly why I've always despised Seinfeld so much, and why the idea of sitting down to watch an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" just repulses me.

Not that I'm a huge fan of other sitcoms either. But the answer to wooden, saccharine characters and absurd plotlines, I believe, is not to make the characters more wooden and inhuman and most importantly unlikeable, and up the ante on absurd plotlines. That's the lazy way out. I do, in fact, believe humor—even dark, biting humor—can coexist with the acknowledgement that we are human and make mistakes but are also capable of growing. But hey, that's just me...

I'm unsurprised some people find the show hasn't aged well though. A show about nothing—or more accurately, a show about the faddish, superficial foibles of a bunch of Upper West Side caricatures—doesn't really have a lot of potential for remaining relevant. Especially one so poorly acted (as that clever edit inadvertently highlighted).
posted by dubitable at 1:55 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


tldr: I'll take Archie Bunker any day of the week over Seinfeld.
posted by dubitable at 1:56 PM on January 26, 2011


So whats the fucking point?


It's an observation, not a criticism or complaint. Calm down.
posted by modernnomad at 2:05 PM on January 26, 2011


Have you ever watched The Honeymooners? Does anyone not totally cringe when Jackie Gleason threatens to send Alice "to the moon"? Isn't that show is supposed to be epitome of TV timeless?

No, not at all. I cringe at sitcoms that try to keep every hint of political incorrectness under wraps. At least sitcoms like "The Honeymooners" had the grit of real life as it was lived to them -- whether that was a reflection of real life or not is another story, but it felt real. I might cringe at Jackie Gleason hollering at his friends and his wife, just as I'd cringe at Lee Marvin tossing a pot of boiling coffee in Gloria Grahame's face in "The Big Heat," but it's the cringe of recognition, not the cringe of "OMG isn't this awful behavior"?

That's how I feel about "Seinfeld," too, actually. I don't love that show, never have. But there's something authentic about it. Something of real human interaction in it. Something that makes episodes worth re-watching even if they may seem dated.
posted by blucevalo at 2:14 PM on January 26, 2011


... a lot of the humor comes from laughing at how terrible everyone is... the audience will never stay invested in a bunch of villains. Not for years, anyway.

In the final years of the show, I began noticing with dismay that the characters had increasingly gone from being nasty towards other people to being nasty towards each other.

The former is funny. The latter is not.

I long detested Cheers as 24 minutes of nothing but the regular cast insulting each other.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:20 PM on January 26, 2011


... there's something authentic about it. Something of real human interaction in it.

It's as accurate a portrayal of the parent-child dynamic as I've ever seen.

Jerry congratulating George on his [George's] parents finally moving to Florida:

You have no idea how your life is going to improve as a result of this. Food tastes better. The air seems fresher. You'll have more energy and self-confidence than you ever dreamed of.

Or, more succinctly, as one of Jerry's girlfriends tells him while they're breaking up:

Boy, did your mother do a number on you.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:28 PM on January 26, 2011


swapping DVDs all night like some kind of trained baboon

Sounds utterly exhausting.
posted by davebush at 2:30 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a really hard time figuring out why I really really enjoy some shows that feature horrible people doing horrible things to each other, but why I detest other shows in the same vein (count me as a Seinfeld supporter, by the way, even though I don't like Jerry Seinfeld himself).

On one hand, I loved Arrested Development, on the other I hated The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. I liked Eastbound and Down, but I could only watch 2 episodes of Community before I wanted to tear my eyes out.

Can I make a taxonomy of some sort so I can figure out which "horrible person" shows I will enjoy in the future?
posted by muddgirl at 2:35 PM on January 26, 2011


I cringe at sitcoms that try to keep every hint of political incorrectness under wraps

haha I have at one friend who wasnt allowed to watch "The Dukes of Hazzard" because it featured a confederate flag.

I myself wasn't allow to watch "I Love Lucy" because of Ricky's abusive behaviour towards Lucy.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:47 PM on January 26, 2011


The one thing about Seinfeld that I found striking, and I mostly like Seinfeld unreservedly, is that the characters in the first season (and the first half of season two) actually come across as human. As they solidified into their character, they seemed to have lost most of the dimensionality they had.

I've gotta say, I reject the premise that just because the characters grew into their jerkish, petty, vapid selves as time went on, it indicates that they somehow "lost most of the dimensionality they had." Real people are vapid, petty jerks, too. And like I said above, look at George's relationship with his parents - it would be sad and poignant if it weren't so funny. And I've known very many real people who put about as much into relationships as Elaine did - that always seemed pitch-perfect to me, not "one-dimensional" or fake at all. Whereas Jerry, I admit, was an over-the-top caricature of the relationship "perfectionist" who had to find a reason to reject everyone, out of a fear if intimacy.

I do, in fact, believe humor—even dark, biting humor—can coexist with the acknowledgement that we are human and make mistakes but are also capable of growing.

Sure, but nearly every other sitcom ends with that dramatic turn - sometimes variety is good. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
posted by rkent at 2:51 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I could only watch 2 episodes of Community before I wanted to tear my eyes out.

Sorry to hear (read) it. It's a brilliant little piece of work. Gets better as it goes along.
posted by grubi at 2:55 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


But see, I hear that about a lot of shows: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has a similar premise that I could not stomach. So what is the difference between the shows I like and the shows I don't?
posted by muddgirl at 3:11 PM on January 26, 2011


If you like Seinfeld and you're not checking in on the HD broadcasts on TBS, you're really missing out. It looks like something that could be an "unconventional" contemporary production.
posted by aaronetc at 3:42 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


My favorite re-cut: Something Blue. If you haven't seen it, watch it. Now. Even better if you're familiar with Blue Velvet, the film it's ripped from.
posted by owtytrof at 3:47 PM on January 26, 2011


...how poorly that show has aged...

For me too but I suspect that it has more to do with me than the show itself. Somehow what I found charmingly mean spirited twenty years ago, I just find mean spirited now. I've tried to watch it in reruns and I just feel like life's too short to spend time with such awful people. Maybe its that my New Jersey upbringing finally wore off about ten years ago.
posted by octothorpe at 4:40 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, overall I think it has suffered with age but there are still a few episodes that are flat out genius. The masturbation contest will never get old.
posted by zzazazz at 4:43 PM on January 26, 2011


"I've always despised Seinfeld so much, and why the idea of sitting down to watch an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" just repulses me."

Seinfeld is about putting sociopaths in a sitcom, but Curb is deliberately about the irrationality and impenetrability of social mores. Larry acts as an observer from mars, who tries to mimic how people should act given how they get mad at him or not; but he always gets the nuance wrong. He tries to learn from his mistakes, at least where it gets him in trouble, and whether or not he fails or succeeds is up to chance and karma. I

dunno as someone who doesn't have the social-mores module built-in I find it hilarious (then again, people have described me as being like Larry David).

Community is the best thing on television, give it a chance: its so smart, the characters are great, and it is not mean-spirited.
posted by stratastar at 6:09 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd have to say much of the comedy in Seinfeld may not be appealing any more because so much of it has been appropriated into our culture.
Kind of like reading Neuromancer and complaining about using as cliched a word as "Cyberspace"

Anyway, I haven't seen the show in years but enjoyed it when it was on. I don't know if the characters were terrible they were just selfish in a mundane way
posted by delmoi at 6:41 PM on January 26, 2011


It's not that Community is mean-spirited - it's that the main character is a charismatic sociopath who, at least in the first two episodes, gets essentially whatever he wants by being good at talking. He can't be mean, per se, because he doesn't even know that other people have feelings that should be considered. I'm sure his redemption becomes, like, a major plot-point of the season, but it was too uncomfortable for me to watch.

At least the guys from Seinfeld aren't sociopaths - they're just narcissists.
posted by muddgirl at 6:42 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Narcissists, you're right.

"I'm sure his redemption becomes, like, a major plot-point of the season, but it was too uncomfortable for me to watch."

Ahah! Actually Community does a really good job walking the line playing with the "redemption" trope / narcissist cypher character. So it's interesting that the Narcissist character has become a trope that's originated from Seinfeld. And I just listened to a David Brooks lecture talking about how we're a society of narcissists anyways.

You should really watch the show for the other characters (who really get built up) and who put up with Jeff as he is, not vice-versa. If anything, the show works not because of the fact that the main character has to adjust to not be too much of an asshole to his friends, but because they learn to be the right level of asshole to him.

To get another data point to create a Muddgirl recommendation engine (TM), have you watched the League, or Peep Show?
posted by stratastar at 7:15 PM on January 26, 2011


Now, of course, pretty much no show does hugging and learning, which further shows how much of an impact Seinfeld had. It's pretty much the Citizen Kane of sitcoms.

Excellent point. Seinfeld seemingly killed off the hug/learn sitcom genre. But was it not already dying by the early 90s?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:39 PM on January 26, 2011


You know, as an unralcitrant media and pop-culture junky, it took me a long time to internalize the reality of how subjective people's opinions on art are, and to stop weighing people's differing tastes against them. It wasn't easy, but it's enabled me to avoid a hell of lot of flame wars on the Internet about how your favorite band sucks and so forth.

This remix was awesome. I am a little...I dunno...peturbed, maybe?...I guess...is the word I'd choose,...to learn...that there are people who think..."Seinfeld"...has aged...poorly...(chokes on stifled outrage).
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:13 AM on January 27, 2011


I've heard that one of Larry David's rules for the show was, "No hugging, no learning,"

The thing that freaked me out in 80's sitcoms was how much time fathers would spend hugging and kissing and embracing their post-pubertal teenage daughters.

I could never figure out whether it was a peculiar sitcom trope, or whether US fathers all had the hots for their (always extremely hot) teenage daughters.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:38 AM on January 27, 2011


Seinfeld seemingly killed off the hug/learn sitcom genre. But was it not already dying by the early 90s?

Here's the 1991-92 lineup. That's a little before my time, and I can't imagine that anyone today remembers things like The Torkelsons enough to categorize them, but you've got Fresh Prince, Blossom, the Cosby Show, Full House, Home Improvement, Major Dad, Family Matters, Step by Step, Coach, Doogie Howser, Evening Shade, and The Wonder Years, all of which I'd say qualify to greater or lesser degrees.
posted by Copronymus at 8:36 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now, of course, pretty much no show does hugging and learning

That's really it's biggest contribution. Aside from the corny observational humor, the show was cynical in a way that has affected the entire TV sitcom landscape. In some ways, it was to sitcoms what Twin Peaks was to TV dramas.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:06 AM on January 27, 2011


These trailers really are fantastic, btw, but I strongly prefer the Kramer ones. Pig Man particularly is excellent.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:18 AM on January 27, 2011


- it's that the main character is a charismatic sociopath who, at least in the first two episodes, gets essentially whatever he wants by being good at talking. He can't be mean, per se, because he doesn't even know that other people have feelings that should be considered. I'm sure his redemption becomes, like, a major plot-point of the season, but it was too uncomfortable for me to watch.

Yeah, he actually evolves a bit after those two episodes. It's kind of adorable what the study group has become. Rather than descending into a "It's Always Sunny..."-style group of utter malcontents, they're a weird family-like blob of personalities. And funny as hell to boot.
posted by grubi at 11:56 AM on January 27, 2011


I think the reason I enjoy the narcissists on Arrested Development is that they are sort of stuck with each other, and that's a big part of the show - what can you do with a family that you didn't choose?

In Community, the bonds that hold the group together just don't start out that strong, and my first reaction to McHale's character is my first reaction to meeting narcissists or sociopaths in real life: "Get away from this asshole before you get used." In a situation where that sociopath is your the main character's mother, it is dramatic to watch the main character struggle with the desire to get away from her, vs. the desire to maintain the family connection. When that sociopath is just a classmate... why let the guy continue to maintain you as an object that he can use and later discard?
posted by muddgirl at 12:10 PM on January 27, 2011


why let the guy continue to maintain you as an object that he can use and later discard?

If you saw the episode where he goes to a party held by his old law firm... you'd understand.
posted by grubi at 12:17 PM on January 27, 2011


I've only seen the first episode of Community and I feel the same way about it as muddgirl apparently. After that first episode I figured the only reason the study group would meet again is because they're all actors cast in a show.

I get the same vibe from a lot of shows, incidentally. People who realistically would not be spending any more time together, but hey, they're on a contract for X number of episodes, so whatever.
posted by ODiV at 1:01 PM on January 27, 2011


Shame. You guys did not give it an honest shot.
posted by grubi at 1:03 PM on January 27, 2011


It's not my job to watch TV (you wouldn't know that from how much I watch...) If the writers can't be bothered to write a couple compelling episodes to start a series, why should I stick around?
posted by muddgirl at 1:06 PM on January 27, 2011


Eh, if I couldn't fathom why the characters in the show would want to spend any more time together, why would I want to spend any more time with them?

I'm pretty picky when it comes to TV, but I might give it another go since it's getting some positive feedback.
posted by ODiV at 1:36 PM on January 27, 2011


"Irationally picky" is probably what I should have said. I'm annoyed by some pretty standard TV stuff a lot of the time that no one else seems bothered by.
posted by ODiV at 1:37 PM on January 27, 2011


It's not my job to watch TV (you wouldn't know that from how much I watch...) If the writers can't be bothered to write a couple compelling episodes to start a series, why should I stick around?

...

Eh, if I couldn't fathom why the characters in the show would want to spend any more time together, why would I want to spend any more time with them?


Think back to most (not all) TV shows you like. The first episode or two were not among the best. First episode of "M*A*S*H"? A boring rehash of part of the movie. First episode of "Scrubs"? Slow, a bit plodding. But we stick around because we're curious.

I never judge a TV show by its first episode or two. I give it at least three or four before deciding anything, because sometimes the first episode is little more than a pilot, which means it can be rejiggered like crazy before the season really kicks in. You guys are judging shows like you would movies: "Grab me in the first 22 minutes or I'm OUTTAHERE." But it's a completely different medium.
posted by grubi at 2:06 PM on January 27, 2011


Don't much like Scrubs, either. M*A*S*H was made like 100 years ago. And I don't watch movies that way at all.

Honestly, to me a TV show - any TV show - should be like a good mini-series. Why waste a single second of screen-time just because you may have the luxury of 12 or 13 episodes? I am actually willing to forgive a clunky aired pilot, but if I don't like the voice of the second and third episodes, why should I watch the fourth one (save some extreme and obvious production changes)?

Seriously, it is OK that you like something I don't like. Doesn't make me a horrible person - doesn't make you a horrible person.
posted by muddgirl at 2:16 PM on January 27, 2011


M*A*S*H was made like 100 years ago.

We're done.
posted by grubi at 2:35 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was being facetious, but OK.
posted by muddgirl at 2:40 PM on January 27, 2011


Now, of course, pretty much no show does hugging and learning, which further shows how much of an impact Seinfeld had.

I think this is something that Parks & Recreations may be bringing back. There isn't much learning, but I really love about the show is that everyone is nice, and well-intentioned, and caring towards each other. There's no cynicism to it, and it's still totally hilarious.

(Note: the second season. The first season was a disaster. The show didn't know who it was yet.)
posted by meese at 3:20 PM on January 27, 2011


Copronymous, you raise a good point:
Here's the 1991-92 lineup. That's a little before my time, and I can't imagine that anyone today remembers things like The Torkelsons enough to categorize them, but you've got Fresh Prince, Blossom, the Cosby Show, Full House, Home Improvement, Major Dad, Family Matters, Step by Step, Coach, Doogie Howser, Evening Shade, and The Wonder Years, all of which I'd say qualify to greater or lesser degrees.
But I will point out that several of the shows you cite here were not sitcoms, at least if we define sitcoms as "a show with a laugh track." (I think only the Simpsons was edgy enough at that time to do a comedy without one.) The Wonder Years was a dramedy, and I think Doogie Howser was, too. Some of the other shows you mention were at or near the end of their runs, including two of the very biggest. The Cosby Show was in its final season, and Cheers disappeared a year later (as did Major Dad). By the mid-90s, several more of these shows, like Blossom and Fresh Prince, also concluded.

Granted, a number of sitcoms from this era stuck around until the late 90s, like Roseanne. But most of these, when they went off the air, were not being replaced by other similar family-type hug/learn sitcoms. Instead, you had more shows like Friends and Frasier. I do think Seinfeld (and the Simpsons) played a major role in this transition, though I'm not sure the family sitcom had long for this world regardless.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 8:37 PM on February 3, 2011


Now, of course, pretty much no show does hugging and learning, which further shows how much of an impact Seinfeld had.

I think this is something that Parks & Recreations may be bringing back. There isn't much learning, but I really love about the show is that everyone is nice, and well-intentioned, and caring towards each other. There's no cynicism to it, and it's still totally hilarious.


See Modern Family for the return of the happy/huggylearning sitcom.

I haven't seen a whole lot, but all the episodes I've seen have followed the pattern of "conflict + resolution + a (bittersweet) happy ending" - the hugs are implied (or shown). And there's usually a "lesson" involved.

also, re: P&R, everyone is nice, and well-intentioned, and caring towards each other

Nobody is really nice to Jerry. And Tom gets a lot of flak as well, particularly from Ron (who is boning his ex-wife, I believe).

I get what you're saying, but I think there's still a dark-humor/cynical influence (April as well).
posted by mrgrimm at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2011


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