Review: Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

seinfeldia-9781476756103_hrI don’t watch a lot of scripted television, but when I do, it’s usually a Seinfeld repeat. It’s a show I watched religiously with my parents growing up, and a show I continue to watch with friends; there’s no better reason to unite than for a marathon of our favourite episodes. So naturally I was excited by the prospect of a book on the show. At the very least I figured I’d get some nostalgic value from it. Thankfully Seinfeldia delivers more than just that.

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong went all out for her book, interviewing the show’s writers, directors, bit-players, even the creator of its theme music. The book covers the show from its inception – Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David’s first discussion of the subject – through to its finale, and the intervening years since its finale. But as deep as she has dived into Seinfeld, I was left wanting more from the book. In places, it feels like Armstrong has only scratched the surface – touched on areas that deserved excavating. It’s not that Seinfeldia isn’t enjoyable – far from it.  I read the book over a couple of days and thoroughly enjoyed Armstrong’s intelligent analysis and research. I just wanted more of it! In particular, more information on Seinfeld’s writers room; how the writers pitched to Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, how plot ideas were fleshed out. Armstrong does explain the process, and there’re plenty of anecdotes from the show’s writers’… but I am certain there was more material to mine. Perhaps that’s my bias shining through; maybe all I really want is Inside the Seinfeld Writer’s Room by the Seinfeld Writers… and believe me, I have my fingers crossed for that.

Most intriguing is Armstrong’s study of how Seinfeld impacted culture at the time, and how it has continued to do so. This is a television show that not only changed the landscape of network television, it also influenced how we speak, how we act, how we think. Particularly fascinating is the author’s assertion that Seinfeld’s take on New York City helped rehabilitate the city, which is a thought that never even crossed my mind.

So though it might not quite be the book I was hoping for, Seinfeldia is an enthralling read that has sated – for now – my desire for more Seinfeld insight. But seriously, someone get cracking on that Seinfeld Writers’ Room book…

Shut Up and Take my Money.jpg

ISBN: 9781476756103
Format: Hardback (228mm x 152mm x 30mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Simon & Schuster
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: 28-Jul-2016
Country of Publication: United States

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