No Longer Laughing: Jerry Seinfeld and the End of Fandom

In 2002, TV Guide named Seinfeld the “greatest television show of all time.”** During the show’s nine seasons, I watched it almost religiously; it was literally “must see TV.”
I enjoyed all of the characters–Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and especially George–as well as Seinfeld’s/Larry David’s irreverent way of looking at the world. I have seen almost every episode of this show and have most of them memorized. From time-to-time, I still watch the old shows if I run into an episode while flipping through the channels. I did, that is, until February when I saw a BuzzFeed Brews interview with Jerry Seinfeld during which he derisively dismissed a question about diversity and his internet show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

Honestly, I had never seen an episode of Seinfeld’s internet program prior to watching this interview. (Subsequently, I did watch a couple of episodes in preparation to write this post.) But this was not a new criticism for Seinfeld. On the old Seinfeld show, some critics pointed out its lack of racial diversity. The main characters and the majority of the recurring characters and guest stars were white, but I was never concerned about that. I had watched established shows with predominantly white/all white casts attempt to insert people of color, and it just seemed awkward and disingenuous. Besides, I was often uncomfortable with Seinfeld‘s depiction of African Americans in the episodes where they made an appearance.

I even endured Seinfeld’s support of his former cast mate, Michael Richards, after his very public meltdown on stage at The Laugh Factory in 2006. However, his racist diatribe against black audience members, laden with racial epithets and lynching imagery, was the reason that I refused to purchase the Seinfeld show’s DVD set. I was not about to let “Kramer” get one thin dime of my money.

It seemed that my fandom knew no bounds until the BuzzFeed interview. Although the interviewer, business editor Peter Lauria, was quite deferential to Seinfeld, he gingerly brought up the fact that “most of the guests are mostly white males.” Whether he was feigning anger or genuinely annoyed, Seinfeld relayed that this “really pisses me off.” He asserted that he had “no interest in gender or race or anything like that.” Folks who brought up those issues were simply “anti-comedy” with their “PC nonsense.” Well, he didn’t pull a “Kramer,” but Jerry Seinfeld’s comments were defensive and dismissive. He was unwilling to consider, even for a moment, that it was a valid criticism. Perhaps Lauria was just being ironic when he asserted that the interview would be “a very serious and earnest conversation.”

Clearly, Seinfeld doesn’t feel the need to think about or respond to racialized or gendered “others.” According to him, his only concern is comedy. But humor, like beauty, is subjective.  Maybe Jerry Seinfeld said it best when he said if “you’re funny, I’m interested.” Well, I’m no longer laughing, so I’m not interested.

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**A subsequent list in 2013 listed The Sopranos as “the best series of all time.”

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Wacky Wednesday: What TV Show is Your Guilty Pleasure?

Da Realist 1

JudgeJudy

This book title is one of Judge Judy’s favorite lines.

All my friends know I love court shows, or as I call them, “judge shows.” I think I’ve watched them all–Judge Mathis, Judge Joe Brown, The People’s Court, Judge Alex, and the list goes on. But if I am at home at 4:00pm Central Time, I will most certainly watch Judge Judy.

I know, I know, people say Judge Judy is mean. I guess I’d have to agree with that assessment. In fact, that was the very reason that I didn’t like her for a long time. She is short-tempered. She yells at people. She calls them idiots. If she doesn’t like someone, she says so. She has no problem telling people that she is smarter than they are. She seems to perpetually be in a bad mood. But there is something about the “cranky goodness” of Judge Judy that I love.

While I watch the show faithfully, there is absolutely no way I would go on it and subject myself to public ridicule. But it’s fun to watch the people who do.

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

Da Hype 1

Have you ever watched a television show with your mouth gaped open and your eyes wide, as you stared in utter confusion and extreme interest at the television? That’s what I look like each time I watched My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. I’m not sure if this show is still on, but when it was, I got into it by watching a Saturday marathon. The show took place in the UK and featured a community of Gypsies. While their lives seemed pretty ordinary, it was the way that they celebrated weddings that was over-the-top fabulous. If you have not seen the show, then you have not seen wedding gowns quite so, well, HUGE!! Fabulous, over-the-top weddings were all the women in this community professed to have wanted out of life. So, there you have it. My guilty pleasure is My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

2Dope readers, is there a television show that you consider your guilty pleasure?