January 14th, 2019 – Seinfeld has been added to the list of shows that may not hold up quite as well in today’s more politically correct environment. A flurry of articles and videos have put the show on blast for jokes that were offensive and oftentimes targeted a marginalized group. Even with 5,932 new original Netflix shows to dissect, people have turned their attention to the hit NBC show from the 90s.
Sitcoms of old have been put under the microscope for years, (we’ve even examined The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Married With Children), but the focus on millennials’ perspective on Seinfeld seems to have gained traction with a video from FBE (Fine Brothers Entertainment) last fall.
In a video titled “Do Teens & College Kids Think Seinfeld Is Funny? Does It Hold Up?,” they gathered eight young people of different races and genders who had never before seen the classic.
While watching a sampling of episodes, including “The Merv Griffin Show,” “The Soup Nazi,” “The Cigar Store Indian,” “The Contest,” and “The Hamptons” they all had a lot to say.
“Twitter would explode,” one viewer said. “If we saw that on TV today, people would be like ‘you better believe that every single person who worked on the show would probably be fired,'” another added.
In the notorious “Soup Nazi” episode, the gang tries out Kramer’s favorite dining spot where the server’s militant vibe has earned him the nickname Soup Nazi. While almost everyone knows and laughs at this declaration, the focus group viewers still had some criticism saying “You can’t be throwing that word around nowadays,” and “I thought this one was insane how many times they said the word ‘nazi.’
“Thanks to more modern understandings of what political correctness entails — and why being PC is important — it’s less common these days to find jokes like the offensive ones that often played out on Seinfeld.,” Angelica Florio of Bustle wrote.“So after all the recent political movements, and after all the changes in the societal structure, it’s not at all surprising that the old popular culture, which rarely addressed social issues, now seems offensive to these liberated millennials,” Ugne Rinkeviciute of 22 Words declared.
What’s missed in some of the analysis, though, is that Seinfeld did tackle social issues and even got recognition for it. After “The Outing,” where a journalist mistakenly thinks Jerry and George are a couple, aired in 1993 it actually won an award from GLAAD.
“This would hold up, because I feel like I’ve still seen this dialogue in TV shows today.”
“As much as you want your favorite show in the world to withstand the test of time, Seinfeld fans might have to find out that their show is a problematic favorite in many instances.”
Seinfeld is in the ranks with Friends and The Office as shows that are pretty consistently put into the “wouldn’t air today” box because people say jokes that once seemed harmless are now problematic. As was noted in an opinion piece about The Office, a lot of these jokes weren’t intended to be harmless; they’re were specifically written to be a satirical lesson for other characters to call out.
“You have four terrible people in a world of nice people and you are laughing at their terrible behavior.”
Do you think Seinfeld would hold up in 2019? Do people often mistake intentional satire for offensive, hurtful humor?