Seinfeld, Plots, Premises and Technology
Posted by Charlie Recksieck
Would They Hold Up?
One concept that I've seen a lot of online is that lots of the "situations" in this classic "situation comedy" would have been rendered moot with modern technology, particularly cellphones. There are lots of sites out there that point out plotlines that wouldn't exist anymore - like this one about cellphones and this list.
But how much of the show would have had some of the premises punctured by more recent technology? One way to find out: A deep dive. I refreshed my memory of each Seinfeld episodes by looking at each plot summary and wrote down which might be affected.
Seinfeld Premises Changed By Tech
I've broken these into categories. PLEASE - If you think of some thing I've left out, email us.
In The Dealership, Jerry could have pre-negotiated with Costco or the Auto Club for his car price with Puddy, or at least other online tools to find dealership prices. When it comes to blind date photos, in The Beard, George and his date Denise both would have found pictures of the other online. Jerry could have googled Tuscany real estate in The Maestro (although he did end up finding a place anyway.
The Pen, Jerry would have just ordered an astronaut pen on Amazon (or that would have been the suggestion from Jack or Jerry's parents in the condo) - just as in he Big Salad, Elaine could have bought mechanical pencil online. And perhaps George could have bought another Phil Rizzuto head online instead of drilling open the street in The Pothole.
Yes, George could have given his cell number as the one for the unemployment officer to call in The Boyfriend, but also George could have made a fake Vandelay Industries site. And in The Strike, perhaps George could have created a fake Human Fund site? If you know anybody that would go to extremes to make a fake website to cover up a lie, wouldn't it be George Costanza?
When it comes to faking having a model girlfriend in The Bizarro Jerry episode, George could have done it more easily and more convincingly with Photoshop. And (George, again), he could have fixed the beach photo with Kruger with Photoshop (The Slicer episode).
For Jerry's girlfriend's plagiarism of a poem in The Letter, Jerry could have googled it really quickly. The Bubble Boy might have tried Googling "the Moors" as the correct trivial pursuit answer, but George still probably would have stuck with "The Moops." During The Marine Biologist, people googling "War and Peace" and "George Constanta marine biologist" would have stopped those situations. While she was at it, Elaiine should have googled Jack to find out that he was "The Wiz" in The Junk Mail.
The Chinese Woman, phone lines don't get "crossed" anymore, so no Donna Chang. In The Sniffing Accountant, Elaine's friends would have called her cellphone so Jake wouldn't have gotten busted for omitting an exclamation point from the message. During all the panic of setting alarms for Jean Paul Jeanpaul to wake up for the NY Marathon in The Hot Tub, an iPhone alarm would have certainly been helpful. And in The Chinese Restaurant, at least the part of George needing to call his girlfriend would have been solved by having a cellphone.
This is the low-hanging fruit of Seinfeld plot debunking/reimagining. During The Parking Garage episode, the whole plot is neutralized if they could have texted each other. For Elaine to help George cheat on his IQ test in The Cafe, texting would have done the job. When picking up Jerry and Elaine at that party on Long Island in The Stranded, Kramer could have texted again for the address. Again in The Bubble Boy, text would prevented Jerry & Elaine getting lost. The Movie episode would have been blown to bits if they had texting to coordinate. George could have texted Jerry from underneath the desk in The Nap; although what would Jerry do differently? In The Rye, George could have texted Kramer to stay out longer with Rusty and Susan's parents in the handsome cab, although the Beefarino was making that difficult.
The Limo, they probably would have taken an Uber from the airport (or texted Kramer which one was O'Brien). If Stub Hub had been around in The Opera, selling tickets on the app would have been easy. George and Kramer in The Airport, could have checked flight status app for their pickup. And going back to The Movie, they could have used Fandango to leave tickets for each other.
In The Glasses episode, George would have taken a photo of Jerry's girlfriend kissing Jerry's cousin. And certainly in The Race, somebody would have filmed the rematch of the sprint and jerry would have been busted.
Jerry, in The Junior Mint, could or would have asked "Mulva" for her cell number, then performed a lookup of the number online.
The Dinner Party, George and Kramer would have had debit or credit cards available to use instead of $100 in cash in the liquor store.
New Advances In General
When it comes to The Mango (and many other episodes), I have a hard time believing that George wouldn't try a Viagra. Unfortunately, in The Pool Guy, there's no need for Moviephone anymore - just as in The Package, photo development doesn't happen anymore. To shield the red light in The Chicken Roaster, Kramer could have bought some blackout curtains ... even could have at the time in the mid 90s. During The Comeback as in other episodes ... video stores are a thing of the past
Analyzing The Results
Although that list looks like a lot of evidence, I can only thing of two episodes that would be totally ruled out by having a cellphone: The Movie and The Parking Garage. But most of these are just one aspect of one of three (or four) plots in a given episode. Very few of these are episode-ruining problems.
If we held up other "situation comedies" to this same scrutiny, I feel like just as high a percentage of premises (or more) would be punctured.
My personal opinion is that the trendy "Seinfeld wouldn't be possible in 2015" things I've seen on the web doesn't actually rise to that level. But I could be wrong. It was just fun to take a deep dive.
Again, if I left something out, let us know!