Dr. TimmerTV Number Ones
15 April 2014
Impact and Influence of Seinfeld on the American Sitcom
From its revolutionary take on the way sitcoms are produced to providing the catalyst for the rebirth of Pez dispensers in America, Seinfeld is remembered not only for its impact on American popculture, but also for how it helped redefine the sitcom genre. The success of Seinfeld’s unique spin on the sitcom format while on air, and its continued popularity in syndication today, has caused both network executives and audiences to reevaluate what truly defines a winning sitcom. Of the many components associated with the Seinfeld dynamic, the three elements that prove to be the most influential on TV programming today its innovative take on character types, its implementation of Meta humor, and its unique way of strategically breaking the rules of sitcom. Before Seinfeld came about, it was generally supposed that the major characters of a sitcom must be levelheaded individuals to some extent in order for the audience to empathize with them. Instead, Seinfeld redefined these roles by building the show around a cast of particularly unlikable characters who embody traits that most people would find unappealing. For example, in Season 9’s “The Butter Shave”, after his boss sees him holding a cane, George lets his new coworkers wrongfully believe that he is handicapped in order to receive new perks and special treatment at work (Sims). As a result, the show experienced a dramatic increase in character development amongst the cast that provided each character with a distinct persona. Yet more significantly, each character’s overly eccentric behavior provided a convenient means for intensifying countless everyday scenarios that would otherwise be uneventful for the viewer. Seven years after the show’s finale, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia came to air, which presents an even more extreme cast of blatantly raunchy characters from which the show thrives. In...
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