Will There Ever Be Another Seinfeld?
Seinfeld is a very important part of my generation. (I’m in my thirties by the way) For many, it defined our expectations for what sitcoms could accomplish. I fell in love with every aspect of the show for it’s entire 9 year run and in syndication long before the finale aired. Why won’t there ever be another Seinfeld? Because today’s technology changed the way we watch television and would fundamentally alter the show itself…
The show about nothing, means everything to me.
What is it that made the show so great? I look at it a number of ways. As an aspiring storyteller myself, I’ve always been inspired by the show’s format. It featured multiple story lines that all connected no matter how disconnected they seemed. The show featured multi-episode and, in some cases, season long arcs as well. It was random storytelling with a purpose. Ordered chaos. The results were absolutely hilarious each and every week.
A testament to a true classic is character. When you can predict a character’s actions based on your knowledge of their personality, you truly connect to the story. Although, I suppose nobody could have predicted this legendary response:
Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine remain very dear friends of mine to this day. I mean no disrespect to actual acquaintances of mine who fit into this category buuuuut I know more about Seinfeld characters than I do about you. That is the genius of Seinfeld. I wasn’t watching a sitcom. I was hanging out with friends. The show found humor in every day life. It was a concept that helped Seinfeld infiltrate countless conversations I had with my real life friends. It’s a trend that continues to this day. Back then, you couldn’t miss an episode or risk missing out on the references.
Indeed, when it comes to pop culture references, I believe in a very simple (and completely proven) theory:
In ANY situation, good or bad, there is an appropriate Seinfeld quote.
This is the first main reason why Seinfeld could never happen again. The television landscape has changed. Event programming on network television now competes with streaming services, on demand, independent content creators resulting in more choice than ever.
Seinfeld was on once a week and you made sure you were near a television. Things are different today.
Must see TV!
At it’s peak, Seinfeld averaged approximately 30 million views per episode in the U.S. (76.3 million for the finale!) According to Wikipedia, the show never had less than 12 million tune into an episode. If my math is
correct close, Seinfeld earned approximately 4.6 BILLION viewers over 9 seasons and 172 episodes (180 if you count 2 part episodes) Is it just me or is that a lot of viewers!?
There will always be big shows and faithful communities of fans surrounding them. Audiences simply consume entertainment in completely different ways today.
To put it into perspective, one of the biggest shows in recent memory is Game of Thrones. That show airs on cable and has never had more than 8 million viewers tune in. Yet it is an overwhelming creative and critical achievement. That might be an unfair comparison given the genre and format so let’s look at the current champ of network television (and a personal favorite of mine) The Big Bang Theory. It has an average of 15-20 million per episode.
All of these shows are led by creative and talented people but even powerhouses like The Big Bang Theory fall short of the remarkable audience that tuned in to watch Seinfeld each week.
Event programming on Network television used to be the only game in town. Now cable channels have risen up and hour long dramas have taken new and exciting forms. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime & Hulu (The streaming rights holder for Seinfeld) now produce their own original content. Entire seasons of television are released on day one.
Instead of VCRs people now control powerful digital recorders and can record hours of high definition television at any time. People watch their shows when they want sometimes putting off episodes for weeks at a time.
In addition to the Network vs Cable vs Streaming battle, anyone with the right mix of ambition, talent & creativity can create their own channels online. Popular sites like YouTube & Twitch are home to content creators that achieve unbelievable ratings. It all adds up to choice. Seinfeld, Friends, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Frasier and more all thrived in a golden era long forgotten because we have more choice than ever before!
Now we choose what we want to watch from a limitless supply of quality content on any device we want. It’s an amazing time to be addicted to incredible stories. We now connect to shows differently as well. Audiences may be smaller, but I would argue that they are more dedicated than ever.
Which is why there will never be another Seinfeld. In today’s world of endless choices, would a show about nothing still find an audience of 30 million each week? 30 million strong connections?
I don’t think I would have been as attached to Seinfeld had it premiered today. The shows ingenious format makes the humor timeless so I would have still been a fan. But today it’s always about the ‘next’ big show. I know I’m addicted to the ‘Up Next’ countdown on my screen.
76 million people tuned in to say goodbye to Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine in 1997. Those days are over now but what a glorious time it was.
Technology Would Break Seinfeld Today
Technology changed how we experience television today but it would fundamentally alter nearly every episode of Seinfeld if it existed in the 90s. The one piece of technology that would have broken down show is the smart phone.
Imagine something incredible happening to George. Instead of getting into a cab (or, gulp, try to find a good space) to visit Jerry’s place he would just… text him?
Technology has changed the way we interact with each other. This would literally ruin at least 60% of the stories in Seinfeld’s universe. In a way, it’s a little sad that people communicate more through their phones than in person today…
Imagine what Kramer’s life would be like with a laptop and a thirst for Googling? What would he search for? How many facts would blow his mind?
Can you imagine any of the characters swiping right on Tinder?
As a matter of fact, I would LOVE to see these characters interacting with today’s technology. Kramer’s Facebook adventures would be insane! Jerry would upload his acts to YouTube. Job hunting would be completely different for George.
That’s it! Bring back Seinfeld! I want to know what would happen in the Chinese restaurant if George had a cell phone.
(Side note) Here’s a great page over on Gizmodo counting down the impact modern tech would have on 10 classic Seinfeld episodes.
Yada, Yada, Yada, We Still Have Syndication
Yes, there will never be a Seinfeld. It was a once in a lifetime show that caught lightning in a bottle. Modern technology has definitely reinvented the bottle and changed the television landscape forever but this is not a negative. There will never be another Seinfeld. Some may feel a stronger attachment to a different show in their past. The point is, we all feel connected to the shows we love. We are constantly searching for new characters to fall in love with.
Most of the time, new shows don’t even come close! Sooooooo… Thanks to modern technology like box sets and streaming services, I can revisit Seinfeld whenever I want! Old friends are now a few clicks away at any time on any device!
Endless choice!? Sometimes, a few reruns of my favorite show is all it takes.