TV Reviews

Better late than never… a first timer experiences Seinfeld

Mindless, gentle, and soothing – Seinfeld might be the perfect medicine for this year.

There’s a 9-year age gap between myself and my husband, and while most of the time, the age difference doesn’t come up much; it does tend to pop up the most with television and movies that I missed out on.

My re-education of movies and media that I missed began when we were dating – Gremlins, Willow, Labyrinth, and the Dark Crystal were a few experiences (and occasional nightmare fuel, by the way – what is with the weird trippy 80’s “family-friendly” movies and shows that are super dark? That’s a blog post for another day, though…) that I missed out on and had to watch with him.

But none of those missed bastions of culture shone to me from afar, so bright and alluring, as that of Seinfeld. The references to Festivus and the soup Nazi, the knowledge that I was a George Costanza even though I had no idea who he was, and the idea of missing out on a sitcom that was so prevalent in our culture for so long, wore me down until finally, at long last – I sat down and watched them all.

And, let me say, it was worth the wait.

The first season or two were a little hard to get into, but once I got to the third and fourth seasons, I was hooked. The witty writing, the relatable every day problems, and the “no plot” plot, all made for a very fun and enjoyable experience.

I think one thing that Seinfeld did so well – or should I say didn’t do – that other sitcoms like Friends and How I Met Your Mother fell prey to, was the complete lack of moralizing. There was no point, no higher message, no value being pushed. Even those other comedies, in all their shallow silliness, had some moments where a light shone down on a character or a subtle message was pushed with the gentle nudge of moralization. But with Seinfeld, there really was none of that.

The beauty of the no-moralization sitcom was that it really provided easy watching, with the knowledge that this would not provoke cliff hangers, or whose baby is it quandaries, or on – again off – again relationship tears à la Ross and Rachel of Friends.

It’s the perfect sitcom to watch during 2020.

There were definitely a few episodes that didn’t age super well, (jokes about sex, race, or disability that I would bet wouldn’t go over well nowadays), but to the most part, the show was really just good, clean, fun. The problems the friends encountered were simple and petty and ever so relatable, and the show was as calming to watch as… a guided meditation led by a paranoid narcissist at a New York diner.

I am grateful that I experienced Seinfeld at long last, and if by some off chance that one of you reading this also missed this show, you should watch it too.

In parting, I leave with you these words from the great George Costanza, “If it wasn’t for the toilet, there would be no books.”


In Defense of Guilty Pleasures

I love the summer for many reasons- hundreds, probably, but perhaps one of my favorite of the lesser of these reasons is the soothing and silly night time show, America’s Got Talent. My husband and I get excited on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the summer, blocking off the time to make sure we won’t miss an episode.

It’s goofy.  The judges’ lines seem cheesy and scripted.  The pre-recorded shows are heavily edited and curated to appeal to a mass audience. Nothing about this show’s production is very original or intelligent.

It’s bombastic and at times ridiculous.

But, I can’t look away.

I have many a fond memory of the first few months after my daughter’s birth, nursing her in the midst of postpartum anxiety, and being able to briefly let go of all the worries of new motherhood and just watch the inane and vapid unfold before my eyes.

The bickering of the judges, the silly jokes, the crazy costumes, and of course, the horrible and cringe worthy auditions of people who got buzzed off the stage.

The beauty of America’s Got Talent, though, is that it’s not ALL inane.

There is something stirring and rousing in seeing humanity perform at its best.

The deaf girl who sings better than Taylor Swift.  The 12 year old who is a self taught ventriloquist.  The plane crash survivor disfigured by burns who finds the courage to sing in front of millions.  The dance crew from Ukraine who perform gasp inducing stunts with lights that make you feel like a child watching magic for the first time.

The little girl with an angelic voice whose father died of cancer just two weeks before her final performance on the show.

The human spirit is indomitable.

Being able to capture the beauty of life and distill it down into an art form that people can watch, admire, cry at, and discuss over and over is a beautiful thing. The magic of a performance done well –  of art that is truly good – is that it elevates the human spirit. It truly captures what it means to be alive.

I recently finished the book “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel due to a good friend’s recommendation.  The book is set in a world that has been ravaged by a deadly flu, and among the remaining survivors; a ragtag band of actors and musicians is formed. The troupe performs Shakespeare plays while traveling the Mad Max reminiscent landscape, but people still come to their shows despite the danger.

The concept of the arts surviving in a post-apocalyptic world is a fascinating idea.

We work to make money, and with that we have a triage of needs. We make money to spend on the necessities- food, shelter, warmth- and then we use it on the things we enjoy.  The things we enjoy, the arts and crafts of this world – are things that make life worth living.

These things are not necessary for survival, but they make survival enjoyable.

It would certainly make sense then, that art would outlive electricity.

So, when I watch America’s Got Talent, I marvel at the talent of humanity. The precision the dancers have. The perseverance the dog trainers must have to train their animals to do crazy stunts. The courage of the deaf girl who sings in front of millions, with no idea how her voice sounds.


Humanity is truly astounding. We are a varied bunch, a ragtag troupe. All of us have something unique to offer the world. It might not be a flying trapeze act on America’s Got Talent, but it is still something beautiful and innately you.

And so, to all the guilty pleasures out there, I salute you.

You make life worthwhile.