Would Seinfeld Still Be Funny Today?

Seinfeld was a fantastic comedy. Some even believe that it is the greatest sitcom ever. And there’s some tough competition in that category, from “The Dick VanDyke Show” to “Mary Tyler Moore,” “Taxi,” “Murphy Brown,” “Cheers,” “Friends,” and more. But “Seinfeld” stands above the rest in the radically different way it approached the comedic half-hour TV show. Seinfeld is famous for being a show about “nothing.” And that was its genius. There was no formula. No setup. No pitch. It was just about a group of friends in New York going about their daily lives, albeit in hilarious ways. It was iconic and revolutionary, and its influence can still be seen in TV comedies today. Compared to the mid-90s, today’s TV comedy landscape has bigger budgets and edgier humor. And one has to wonder if an iconic show like Seinfeld could even make it, let alone become a big hit, in today’s TV culture. The best comedies on TV right now have radically different formats than Seinfeld had and shoot for a smarter humor than some of the more slapsticky moments of Seinfeld. And the live-studio audience format would probably not go far to bring in new viewers. And although it was funny back then, Jerry’s face-mugging (he only had about three expressions) would be seen as cheesy or a sign of bad acting. In addition, it would probably get lost in the noise of a number of other smart comedies like “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and more (most of which take elements from “Seinfeld”). However, “Seinfeld” had some great writing, classic characters and comedic tropes that will live forever in TV history and pop culture. Kramner, Newman, the Soup Nazi, the marble rye, the Maestro, Frank and Estelle Constanza, Putty, J. Peterman, Jackie Chiles, ‘Crazy’ Joe Davola, the Library Detective, the bet, the goiter, the close talker, man-hands, atomic-weggies, Festivus, and more are just part of the legacy that Seinfeld has left behind and that still make us laugh today. As well, Seinfeld was Meta before Meta was cool. Although Community seems to be the reigning Meta comedy right now, Seinfeld had a whole season of Meta when Jerry and George pitched, wrote, and shot a pilot for the show they were currently on. And smart writing like that could easily find a place today alongside any 21st century sitcom. In the end, it’s hard to say whether Seinfeld could be a hit today simply because so many other shows build upon Seinfeld’s foundation. Without Seinfeld, many other shows may never have been made, like “Friends,” “Arrested Development,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “30 Rock,” and more. One thing is certain, if “Seinfeld” had never aired, today’s TV comedy would be very different, and perhaps, not nearly as good.

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