Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Seinfeld and Me: A Tale of Two Metamorphoses

The other night I watched the first episode of Seinfeld, simply titled "Pilot" (completely different from "The Pilot," obviously.) While I've seen every episode of this modern classic throughout my near quarter century of life, I am not as familiar with the slower, structurally different first season. This became especially apparent as I watched "Pilot" and realized that I had no idea what was going to happen next. I relished this novel feeling until it was clear this episode was a far cry from the Seinfeld that I knew and loved.

A number of differences immediately jumped from the screen. I noticed the show had a much more Jewish feel, a complaint that critics were fond of making during the show's early days (Sidebar: I don't understand how anyone could get away with making this seem like an acceptable complaint. But it was the 90's and I believe Jews made up a minuscule 1.8% of the population and they seemed to be [and still are] a pretty self-deprecating group. So maybe that's why critics could get away with light racism). And George seemed to have more of a softer-version-of-Larry-David vibe going on evidenced by his over-the-top speech and actions. Plus he had about 60% more hair, though it looked 110% more repulsive. Also, he wore this outfit:

REAL George - I refer to all the modern version of the characters as the REAL version - would never be caught dead in this outfit (a bowler's shirt topped off by a beret) unless a girlfriend was making him do so.

As many know, Elaine was absent from the show at this point and the need for female banter was filled with a very dry, New Yorkish, redheaded waitress at a diner that was not Monk's.* She was thankfully cut and hopefully blacklisted from ever being an actress again as I'm quite sure she would have ruined the series.

* Fun fact: The restaurant that was used in this scene was a set taken from the movie Muppets Take Manhattan.

Kramer is introduced later in the episode with a pet golden retriever (who was never seen again). He had a more of a crazy homeless person feel to him rather than his trademark quirkiness. Yes, he bursts into the apartment unannounced. And yes, he unintentionally ruins Jerry's viewing of the Mets game. And of course, he pulls two slices of bread from his robe and requests meat, but somehow this all has a different (more homeless) feel to it. Maybe it's because REAL Kramer is generally clean-shaven and sartorially acceptable and O.G. Kramer is scruffy and wearing a grubby, ill-fitting robe. He makes outlandish statements that are more akin to the ramblings of a homeless person living in a drug-soaked fantasy world than those of an eccentric.

More noticeable than anything are the changes in the character of Jerry Seinfeld himself. A notoriously meticulous man throughout the rest of the series, Jerry, casually dressed in neon orange and blue sweats, is seen untucking his shirt and inhabiting a rather sloppy apartment. This is not the REAL Jerry Seinfeld who is made fun of for his neurotic cleanliness. This is not the man rarely seen outside his uber 90's collared-shirt-into-pants combo. Seeing him eating on his messy couch in his sweatpants was almost uncomfortable to me in its unfamiliarity.

But in a roundabout way, it got me thinking about my own life (and yes, everything does come back to me, that's why I'm indulging in a blog). This first episode of Seinfeld (alternately titled "The Seinfeld Chronicles") first aired on July 5th, 1989 and the series concluded nearly 9 years later on May 14th, 1998. I tried to imagine how different I was 9 years ago. Was I like this hesitant, watered-down Seinfeld? Would I be pleased with how I ended up or would I feel like the general population does about the notorious finale?

Nine years ago, 14-year old me had just gotten some pretty sweet jailbait ta-tas, had recently discovered eyebrow waxing (finally ridding myself of that horrid fur caterpillar across my brow ridge) and was generally leaving awkwardness for the world of sex and drugs. Little did that me know that in only a few months I would grind with a boy for the first time (to Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'") and pregame my first dance (with straight gin). Incidentally, those two things happened on the same night, basically setting the stage for my life up to now.

I realized that Seinfeld and me, 9 years separated, were none too different. We were both testing out the waters and coming into our own, a little different but vaguely similar to the matured version. Seinfeld and company eventually ended up becoming horrible (but beloved) narcissists; a theme barely hinted at in "Pilot." REAL me is pretty much a drunken slut with meticulously groomed eyebrows who lives ridiculously; a fate legalish me was barely creeping toward. As far as REAL me compared with the finale of Seinfeld, it's too early to tell. But the conclusion of something great is rarely satisfying because the end is inherently disappointing. Nobody wants a good thing to end.

Until my finale, I will use the amusing and anecdotal minutia of my everyday life to impart my absurd wisdom upon the world. I may even share some of my completely ludicrous opinions or inane observations, if it so suits me. Thankfully, blogs are completely self-centered and if there's one thing you should know about me it's that I embrace that quality wholeheartedly. Next time on Bexxxtacy: Why I'm abandoning the feeling of pity.

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