12 Slams on Seinfeld

For its first two seasons—and then occasionally throughout—Seinfeld was panned by critics for being too lame, too self-indulgent, too racist, too homophobic, too yuppieish, and too liberal. The now-revered sitcom was even questioned by those who put it on the air: The show is "too New York, too Jewish," NBC TV executive Brandon Tartikoff once balked.

Here are 12 other criticisms heaped upon Seinfeld, both after it debuted on July 5, 1989, as The Seinfeld Chronicles, and at its end, when it was considered "master of its domain."

1. Irrelevant Mayonnaise

"But lacking much in the way of attitude, the show seems obsolete and irrelevant. What it boils down to is that Seinfeld, likable as he may be, is a mayonnaise clown in a world that requires a little horseradish."

— Matt Roush, USA Today

2. Eh, Not An Inspired Piece of Television

"This five-episode summer diversion, which NBC has been kicking around for at least half a season waiting for the 'right time' to unleash it on the viewing public, is not what could be termed an inspired piece of television. There's none of the self-referential surrealism of It's Garry Shandling's Show that the show's premise—a comedian playing 'himself'—suggests there will be. The revolutionary concept here consists of cutting a couple of times per episode to Jerry performing his act at a comedy club where, naturally, everybody laughs at all his jokes. Theoretically there's some sort of—I hesitate to use the word—'counterpoint' between the stand-up material and what loosely passes for the plot. Now, Jerry Seinfeld is funny—in sort of an upscale, Jewish George Carlin kind of a way—but he's not that funny. The stand-up situations obviously aren't real, so it sounds like he's working a room of laugh-track machines. It would have been better, but too daring for NBC, to have him delivering jokes to an empty room, or to the camera."

— Rick Marin, The Washington Times

3. Winner of Title "Worst Pilot Ever"

"In the history of pilot reports, Seinfeld has got to be one of the worst of all time. I have it next to my desk; it says 'overall evaluation: weak.’"

Warren Littlefield, former NBC President of Entertainment

4. So Normcore

"...the more typical sitcom scenes of Jerry and his friends at common day locations were negatively received—as one viewer put it, 'You can't get too excited about going to the Laundromat.'"

— NBC Research Department Memo, via TV Guide

5. The Dreadful Future of Western Civilization

"Call me a hopeless Puritan, but I see, in this airwave invasion of sitcoms about young Manhattanites with no real family or work responsibilities and nothing to do but hang out and talk about it, an insidious message about the future of Western civilization."

— Elayne Rapping, The Progressive, via Seinfeld: Master of its Domain

6. Mere Kids Playing with Media

Seinfeld is the "equivalent of sophomoric talk radio."

— Steven D. Stark, Glued to the Set: The 60 Television Shows and Events That Made Us What We Are Today

7. Pretentious Wannabe Theatre

"They think they're doing Samuel Beckett instead of a sitcom."

— Roseanne Barr, comedian, quoted in David Wild's Seinfeld: The Totally Unauthorized Tribute.

8. Horrific, Tame, and Depressing

"Is horror too strong a word for what is, after all, only a depressingly insipid stand-up comic and his painfully tame sitcom? I don't know. […] These people are very depressed. Let me tell you, kids, being that depressed can be really scary. Thus the horror of Seinfeld. It leaves me that depressed. Not only depressed but lonely."

— Ron Rosenbaum, Esquire, via Seinfeld: Master of its Domain

9. Gleefully Nasty Toward Women and People of Color

"Why do I find myself becoming uneasy about the show? Increasingly, it seems, Seinfeld wants to be about something, and that something is either painfully obvious or awkwardly jarring. […] The show has never been terribly concerned with political correctness. Its depictions of minorities, from Babu the Pakistani who was eventually deported because of Jerry's carelessness to the Greek diner owner with an apparent yen for amply endowed waitresses, can be patronizing. And its attitudes toward women can become downright hostile, as the final episode illustrated with its portrait of a gleefully nasty female network executive."

— John J. O'Connor, New York Times

10. Reagan-Era America At Its Worst

"Seinfeld is the worst, last gasp of Reaganite, grasping, materialistic, narcissistic, banal self-absorption.''

— Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic, via Seinfeld: Master of its Domain

11. A Houseful of Completely Disconnected Yuppies

''Why don't the characters just move to penthouses on Fifth Avenue? How can they be playing smart Jewish people hanging out in a diner eating all the eggs they want for $3.99 when they are the most highly paid TV actors of the late 20th century? Why don't they just tie Jerry Seinfeld's compensation to how the Knicks do next year?''

— friend of NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd as quoted here.

12. A Cheez Doodle of Urban Fecklessness (Whatever That Means)

"The passing of Seinfeld, that Cheez Doodle of urban fecklessness, into cryogenic syndication inspires no tear in this cave. Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine never spoke for my New York, not on a Southern California soundstage, lean and mean in their terrarium, wearing prophylactic smirks to every penis joke."

— John Leonard, New York Magazine

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The Star Trek Theme Song Has Lyrics
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Star Trek theme song is familiar to pretty much anyone who lived in the free world (and probably elsewhere, too) in the late 20th century. The tune is played during the show's opening credits; a slightly longer version is played, accompanied by stills from various episodes, during the closing credits. The opening song is preceded by William Shatner (as Captain Kirk) doing his now-legendary monologue recitation, which begins: "Space, the final frontier ..."

The show's familiar melody was written by respected film and TV composer Alexander Courage, who said the Star Trek theme's main inspiration was the Richard Whiting song "Beyond the Blue Horizon." In Courage's contract it was stipulated that, as the composer, he would receive royalties every time the show was aired and the theme song played. If, somehow, Star Trek made it into syndication—which, of course, it ultimately did—Courage stood to make a lot of money. And so did the person who wrote the lyrics.

WAIT... THERE WERE LYRICS?

Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, wrote lyrics to the theme song.

"Beyond the rim of the star-light,
my love is wand'ring in star-flight!"

Why would Roddenberry even bother?

The lyrics were never even meant to be heard on the show, but not because the network (NBC) nixed them. Roddenberry nixed them himself. Roddenberry wanted a piece of the composing profits, so he wrote the hokey lyrics solely to receive a "co-writer" credit.

"I know he'll find in star-clustered reaches
Love, strange love a star woman teaches."

As one of the composers, Roddenberry received 50 percent of the royalties ... cutting Alexander Courage's share in half. Not surprisingly, Courage was furious about the deal. Though it was legal, he admitted, it was unethical because Roddenberry had contributed nothing to why the music was successful.

Roddenberry was unapologetic. According to Snopes, he once declared, "I have to get some money somewhere. I'm sure not gonna get it out of the profits of Star Trek."

In 1969, after Star Trek officially got the ax, no one (Courage and Roddenberry included) could possibly have imagined the show's great popularity and staying power.

Courage, who only worked on two shows in Star Trek's opening season because he was busy working on the 1967 Dr. Doolittle movie, vowed he would never return to Star Trek.

He never did.

THE WORDS

If you're looking for an offbeat karaoke number, here are Roddenberry's lyrics, as provided by Snopes:

Beyond
The rim of the star-light
My love
Is wand'ring in star-flight
I know
He'll find in star-clustered reaches
Love,
Strange love a star woman teaches.
I know
His journey ends never
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.

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Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC
5 Bizarre Comic-Con News Stories from Years Past
Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC
Jesse Grant, Getty Images for AMC

At its best, San Diego Comic-Con is a friendly place where like-minded people can celebrate their pop culture obsessions, and each other. And no one can make fun of you, no matter how lazy your cosplaying might be. You might think that at its worst, it’s just a series of long lines of costumed fans and small stores crammed into a convention center. But sometimes, throwing together 100,000-plus people from around the world in what feels like a carnival-type atmosphere where anything goes can have less than stellar results. Here are some highlights from past Comic-Con-tastrophes.

1. MAN IN HARRY POTTER T-SHIRT STABS ANOTHER MAN IN THE FACE—WITH A PEN

In 2010, two men waiting for a Comic-Con screening of the Seth Rogen alien comedy Paul got into a very adult argument about whether one of them was sitting too close to the other. Unable to come to a satisfactory conclusion with words, one man stabbed the other in the face with a pen. According to CNN, the attacker was led away wearing handcuffs and a Harry Potter T-shirt. In the aftermath, some Comic-Con attendees dealt with the attack in an oddly fitting way: They cosplayed as the victim, with pens protruding from bloody eye sockets.

2. MEMORABILIA THIEVES INVADE NEW YORK

Since its founding in 2006, New York Comic Con has attracted a few sticky-fingered attendees. In 2010, a man stole several rare comics from vendor Matt Nelson, co-founder of Texas’s Worldwide Comics. Just one of those, Whiz Comics No. 1, was worth $11,000, according to the New York Post. A few years later, in 2014, someone stole a $2000 “Dunny” action figure, which artist Jon-Paul Kaiser had painted during the event for Clutter magazine. And those are just the incidents that involved police; lower-scale cases of toys and comics disappearing from booths are an increasingly frustrating epidemic, according to some. “Comic Con theft is an issue we all sort of ignore,” collector Tracy Isenhour wrote on the blog of his company, Needless Essentials, in 2015. “I am here to tell you no more. It’s time for this garbage to stop."

3. CATWOMAN SAVES THE DAY


John Sciulli/Getty Images for Xbox

Adrianne Curry, winner of the first cycle of America’s Next Top Model, has made a career of chasing viral fame. Ironically, it was at Comic-Con in 2014 that Curry did something truly worthy of attention—though there wasn’t a camera in sight. Dressed as Catwoman, she was posing with fans alongside her friend Alicia Marie, who was dressed as Tigra. According to a Facebook post Marie wrote at the time, a fan tried to shove his hands into her bikini bottoms. She screamed, the man ran off, and Curry jumped to action. She “literally took off after dude WITH her Catwoman whip and chased him down, beat his a**,” Marie wrote. “Punched him across the face with the butt of her whip—he had zombie blood on his face—got on her costume.”

4. MAN POSES AS FUGITIVE-SEEKING INVESTIGATOR TO GET INTO VIP ROOM

The lines at Comic-Con are legendary, so one Utah man came up with a novel way to try and skip them altogether. In 2015, Jonathon M. Wall tried to get into Salt Lake Comic Con’s exclusive VIP enclave (normally a $10,000 ticket) by claiming he was an agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and needed to get into the VIP room “to catch a fugitive,” according to The San Diego Union Tribune. Not only does that story not even come close to making sense, it also adds up to impersonating a federal agent, a crime to which Wall pleaded guilty in April of 2016 and which carried a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Just a few months later, prosecutors announced that they were planning to reduce his crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.

5. MAN WALKS 645 MILES TO COMIC-CON, DRESSED AS A STORMTROOPER, TO HONOR HIS LATE WIFE


Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Disney

In 2015, Kevin Doyle walked 645 miles along the California coast to honor his late wife, Eileen. Doyle had met Eileen relatively late in life, when he was in his 50s, and they bonded over their shared love of Star Wars (he even proposed to her while dressed as Darth Vader). However, she died of cancer barely a year after they were married. Adrift and lonely, Doyle decided to honor her memory and their love of Star Wars by walking to Comic-Con—from San Francisco. “I feel like I’m so much better in the healing process than if I’d stayed home,” he told The San Diego Union Tribune.

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