On July 5, 1989, a sitcom called The Seinfeld Chronicles aired on NBC, this was the pilot episode of what would become one of the biggest TV shows of all-time. NBC picked up the show, which became Seinfeld, and ran for nine seasons and 180 episodes. This month marks the 30th anniversary of the beloved comedy and Jerry Seinfeld did an interview with USA Today to reveal the top Seinfeld episodes and why the hit show wouldn’t work today.
Seinfeld was written by Jerry as well as the great Larry David and starred some of TV’s most interesting characters such as George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and of course Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards). Jerry Seinfeld opens up about the “show about nothing.”
The legendary comedian was asked why Seinfeld is “still such a fixture in the public consciousness 30 years after its premiere” and Jerry responded by saying: “I think it’s the type of show we don’t see that much anymore. In my day, you had Cheers and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, Maude.”
“There was always a big sitcom that everybody watched,” Jerry said. “There always seemed to be a sitcom that was a cultural focus. Entertainment has changed, and it’s not the staple. I think people like going back to that time when they remember, ‘Oh, we would all watch that show every week.’ It was a nice feeling.”
When asked if there was a phrase, gag or episode from the show remained popular longer than he expected, Seinfeld replied that he thought the Festivus episode was “the biggest surprise to all of us” because of the “staying power.” “I think that completely surprised us,” he said.
The tenth episode of season 9, titled The Strike, centered around the fictional holiday of Festivus, which was based on an actual holiday invented by the father of Dan O’Keefe, one of this episode’s co-writers. O’Keefe said that everything about Festivus was like his family’s Christmas substitute holiday, except for the aluminum Festivus pole.
When asked if there was an episode that encapsulated the spirit of Seinfeld best, Jerry pointed out that there are a few. Jerry named five top episodes that epitomized the successful sitcom: The Marine Biologist (Season 5, 1994), The Contest (Season 4, 1992), The Pothole (Season 8, 1997), The Yada Yada (Season 8, 1997), and The Boyfriend (Season 3, 1992).
Seinfeld said they embody the show because “each episode has some insane thing in it.”
Jerry was asked whether or not Seinfeld could air today in the current environment of political correctness and oversensitivity. “Some of them you just couldn’t do,” Seinfeld replied. “The Cigar Store Indian (Season 5, 1993). I don’t think we could do that today.”
“The one where the journalist thinks George and I are gay (The Outing, Season 4, 1993), maybe that one,” he added.
Jerry stated that Seinfeld “started that PC/anti-PC thing: ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that.’ That was the beginning of it, that we made sure that we didn’t want to offend anybody.”
You can read the entire Jerry Seinfeld interview over at USA Today.