Monday, July 18, 2016

Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

    • Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
    • Published July 1, 2016
    • Other books by author: Why? Because We Still Like You: An Oral History of the Mickey Mouse Club and Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic

    • This is a behind-the-scenes look at how the TV show "Seinfeld" came to be and how it impacted culture. It's also about how it's still impacting culture more than 15 years after it finished its run on network TV.

    • I have read more than a handful of books about various TV shows and they almost all promise to be the "definitive" book on the subject. Spoiler alert: very few are truly definitive.
    • My definition of a definitive book about a TV show would include:
      • Interviews with all the surviving cast members, writers and creators
      • An episode list with plotlines & trivia about each one
      • A character and actor list
      • The narrative of how it all came to be
    • This book has only the last item on that list. That doesn't mean it's bad, just that it's in no way definitive.
    • There are no fresh interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus or Michael Richards (I would have to assume that this was not for lack of trying.)
    • Instead you get fresh interviews with several of the writers, the real Joe Davola, the real J. Peterman, Kenny Kramer, Larry Thomas (he played the Soup Nazi), and the like.
    • It is interesting to read how the writers mined their own lives for stories and plot points but that's basically the whole thing, chapter after chapter, as the seasons progress.
      • Apparently they changed writers almost every season to always have fresh new incidents to mine for story purposes.
    • It is essential reading for the completist but not for the casual fan. Otherwise you're better off just watching the episodes again.

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