I’ve been on a month-long binge watch of Seinfeld, 3.5 readers. It’s funny the things you notice when a) you watch it all within the same time span and b) when time goes by and you notice actors/actresses who had bit parts on the show who later went on to hit it big.
#1 – Co-creator Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame is in it a lot, but you might not have noticed if you weren’t a super fan. He has bit walk on roles such as “Frank Costanza’s Cape Wearing Lawyer” (actual name of the character, the cashier who gives George back a twenty dollar bill with lipstick on the president, a mad scientist in a late-night B sci-fi movie that Jerry is watching. He also does a lot of voice over work, people yelling at the characters from off camera. Of course, his big claim to fame is that he did the voice of George’s boss, the gregariously boisterous NY Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
#2 – Speaking of LD, it’s eerie how much of a spot on accurate Larry David impression that Jason Alexander is doing in the character of George Costanza, who is based on the Curb star. Poor George/Larry. Their whole schtick is that they are unattractive bald men who screw up constantly who, despite their myriad of flaws, can only be happy with perfect women. They know in their hearts this is wrong and they might be happier if they could accept women with flaws the way they wish women would accept them for all their flaws but their dumb brains just won’t let them do it.
#3 – It’s a rare series that gets better the longer it goes on. You can tell the showrunners are trying to figure it all out in the first 2 seasons and then it finally hits its stride around season 3-4. Early seasons, they try to give more depth to everyone and then they eventually hit the formula where it becomes quick and snappy and everyone is a caricature every situation is a parody of some sort of social conundrum that everyone faces sooner or later. Understandably, Jerry wanted to go out on top by ending the show after season 9 rather than go on longer even though NBC offered him plenty of money to keep going. Some of the most memorable episodes with the quotable phrases that became part of the pop cultural language come between seasons 7-9.
#4 – Famous actors/actresses who were on Seinfeld and then went on to hit it big later. (Hard to make a complete list.)
Dayton Callie – You might know him as Charlie on HBO’s Deadwood but he played a cabbie in the Puerto Rican Day Parade Episode who has to put up with Elaine’s indecision over whether she wants to stay in the cab and wait for the traffic to clear up or to get out and walk.
Breaking Bad – Walter and Skyler were both on Seinfeld before Walt built his blue meth empire. Anna Gunn was on the long list of Jerry’s girlfriends dumped over comically trivial reasons (George loses his glasses but while squinting, is certain he spotted her smooching it up with Jerry’s despised Cousin Jeffrey). Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston had a recurring role as Jerry’s dentist Tim Whatley, who converts to Judaism just for the jokes and brands Jerry a rabid anti-dentite for making dentist jokes. (Sidenote a young Debra Messing of Will and Grace fame is in this episode too.)
Mariska Hargitay, Amanda Peet, Sarah Silverman, Courtney Cox, Janine Garafalo, Teri Hatcher, Megan Mullally, Lauren Graham and the list goes on and on. It seems like every up and coming 1990s actress took a turn as one of Jerry or George’s (sometimes Kramer’s) long suffering girlfriends. I say sometimes Kramer because oddly, any woman dumped by Kramer just seems to feel lucky to have had the unlikely stud in their lives.
Meanwhile, Jon Favreau (as a clown), Bob Odenkirk and a very young Patton Oswalt as a video store clerk stop by.
#5 – My last observation is how many of the premises wouldn’t exist today. So many of the episodes involve the quartet splitting up and not being able to find each other in the big city. Today, a lost friend is only a cell phone call away from being found.