The first episode of Seinfeld, titled The Seinfeld Chronicles and more of a “special” than a series pilot, premiered when I was about 18 months old and the much maligned series finale aired a few months after I turned 10. Learning these dates astonished me because, while I knew Seinfeld was a”90s” show, this means there is basically no chance I saw a single episode “live”- at least not intentionally. My parents watched Seinfeld but I can’t imagine them enjoying it with their tween children. Regardless, I’ve seen every episode. In a very meta moment I was reading Seinfeldia and had the episode with Rochelle, Rochelle playing in the background and the next day I read about Chela Holton- the “real” Rochelle.
Keishin Armstrong delivers a well researched overview of the history of Seinfeld, the impact it had on the world while it was on air and its lasting cultural phenomenon. She is hampered by the fact that her subjects are in a whole different universe, it can’t be easy to get Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander or Julia Louis-Dryefus on the phone, but she was able to get a lot of interviews with former writers.
The writers explained that they mined their lives for funny moments they could “give” to the characters. The Soup Nazi, Festivus, the “contest” etc all happened to the writers or their friends. Most of the writers were only on staff for a year and getting people to California (I had no idea Seinfeld was filmed in Los Angeles) from New York was important because David and Seinfeld hadn’t lived there is so long but New York was essentially a fifth character.
My library only had the e-book (and I hate e-readers so Seinfeldia loses a star) available to borrow but according to Amazon there is a hard copy available for purchase. It was an incredibly interesting read- particularly if you’re a Seinfeld fan.