Sunday, September 18, 2005

A political alliance with wholesomeness

"Seinfeld" is a thing of the past, both literally--the show has ended--and figuratively--the show could never happen now. The final episode of "Seinfeld" predicted television's (as well as society's) trajectory--normal, nice, real Americans with good values sabotage sarcastic, witty, mean-spirited New Yorkers.

"Seventh Heaven" is second only to "Designing Women" as my sedative of choice--it's remarkable how much I get done when I do not have a television and thus have access to neither of these. I do, however, intend to get the "Seinfeld" DVDs one of these days, because the show does not, from what I can tell, turn my brain to complete mush.

I was too young during most of the "Seinfeld" era to say whether society is really all that different now than then, and my sense that middle-American values, or what's seen as middle-American values, are now all the rage may come from the fact that, until four years ago, I hadn't met that many middle-Americans or seen the Midwest. But I do get the sense that we're becoming more of a "Seventh Heaven" country, one in which even cynical, Seinfeldian neocon-types--Jews, often, but hardly all American Jews fit into this category--find themselves forced into a political alliance with wholesomeness.

In the NYT article about post-Seinfeldian NBC, a viewer is quoted as saying, of why she would watch a show in which NBC buys things for people in need: "It's refreshing to see good things happen to people who deserve it." That it is. But it's also refreshing to drink a glass of mint iced tea, turn on the TV and see people run out of the bathroom in their friends' apartments, holding the newspaper and screaming, "Say Vandelay, say Vandelay," or to see people make a remark about how awful kids with ponies are and then discover that the aged immigrant relative at the end of the table had a pony as a girl in Poland.


Anonymous said...

Another reason Seinfeld wouldn't be made now, even though I love it, is that so many of the plots are dependent on misunderstandings that would be destroyed by cell phones. The one that comes to mind now is the bubble boy, but there are so many others. - Raffi.

Phoebe said...

Raffi of Crescat or another Raffi?

Either way... My parents always say the same thing about Seinfeld, that it is a very pre-cellphone show. But there are other things about the show that didn't even make sense at the time it aired, such as the importance of cars in the lives of not-so-wealthy Manhattanites, or the fact that each character had a new, attractive significant other each week. Suspension of disbelief was key even when new episodes were still airing. If the audience believed George could have a hot new girlfriend every weekend, and that these four people, for all these years, would really sit in the same booth at the same coffee shop at all hours, despite various jobs meant to be located all over the city, then why not believe none of them had cellphones?

Anonymous said...

Crescat Raffi - I agree that there's a lot of suspension of disbelief in Seinfeld, but I think it gets to the point where the generation watching it doesn't even understand that someone *could* not have a cell. That is, I was chatting with a little kid a while back, and he literally didn't know that there was something called a nintendo entertainment system at some point. That's thekind of disconnect I mean.

Libby Pearson said...

God Almighty, does 7th Heaven suck.

Phoebe said...

Crescat Raffi--I'm sure the Seinfeld writers would have worked around it. A lost/stolen/broken phone could have been worked into a number of episodes, and some different plot lines (broken, stolen, or lacking internet, and so on) would have had to fill in for the rest. What can I say, I miss the show.

Libby--don't use the Lord's name in vain.