The American public is often molded by the television it watches. Many debates center on whether television mimics life, or life mimics television. For one historically successful show, there was no question about the order of events. "The Seinfeld Show" was built around the premise that everyday life can be entertaining. "The Seinfeld Show" became one of the biggest sitcom successes in television history and the cast decided to end it and walk away while it was still on top. Many things made it the success that it was including content, timing and cast. If one ever wants an example of the way television history is created they only have to look at "The Seinfeld Show". It first aired in 1989 and nobody expected it to be noticed, much less worshipped for nine television years. The first showing was a rejected pilot that the network put in as a burn up slot just to use the time during summer rerun season. It was called the Seinfeld Chronicles at the time and it was really a work in progress according to those who were there(Sauter, 2002). The characters were underdeveloped, the plot was all over the place and the network never expected positive feed back from the burn out slot. Kramer was named Kessler, and Elaine was not even invented yet. And as often happens in television history, there was no rhyme or reason for it to happen, but it did. The network had stumbled across a gold mine of success (Sauter, 2002). The critics went wild following the first show. They had never seen a show about nothing, and it was refreshing after the many sitcoms that seemed to be about nothing but still came off sounding preachy. “The good reviews didn't hurt", says George Shapiro, one of the show's executive producers and Seinfeld's manager. But what really saved it was that "everyone liked Jerry. They wanted him on NBC." The show got a second chance with a four-episode run in summer 1990. The newly named Seinfeld impressed the network enough to be brought back as a midseason replacement in January 1991. This time it stuck. Returning for its first full season that September, Seinfeld ascended to the Nielsen top 10 by fall 1993(Sauter, 2002). In its nine years on the air, Seinfeld won 10 Emmys and introduced "shrinkage," "spongeworthy," and "master of your domain" into the national lexicon (Sauter, 2002). The show enjoyed nine years of stratospheric success before Jerry Seinfeld pulled the plug and walked away. He felt it was important to quit on top. A new show, Frasier, had been nipping at the heels of Seinfeld’s Nielsen ratings. At the end, Seinfeld was pulling in $1 million per episode, and his co-stars received a $600,000 per show paycheck. The success of the show has been studied worldwide in art, business and production classes. Many things made it the success that it was, and a combination of factors made it a television historical landmark. While the show was wildly successful its namesake never won an Emmy for it. He was later asked what he thought of the Emmys and replied: "The Emmys are ... stupid," he said recently in a concert. "They're there so that attention-starved losers can all congratulate each other on having a job(Brioux, 2001)." This didn’t stop the show itself from racking up prizes. Over the course of its nine-year run The Seinfeld Show received ten Emmys and countless nominations. The show was historically significant in many areas including economics. At its height it commanded several million dollars per 30-second commercial segment. With 169 total shows airing over the course of the seasons that added up to a tremendous amount of paid advertising dollars(Bark, 1998).
THE SHOW’S SUCCESS
The show was viewed by almost 40 million viewers each week at its all time high and never dropped below 9 million viewers per week(Shaw, 1996). The four main characters, Elaine, Jerry, George and Kramer, became legendary across the globe. The deal was cut, however,...