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Seinfeld

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Ever since I can remember, my family has always loved watching “Seinfeld,” the show about “nothing.” We have watched all nine seasons and 180 episodes, each one at least ten times. The show is about four best friends living in New York City who go about their daily lives and average jobs with hilarious mishaps along the way. We began watching on a regular basis when I was in fifth grade. Regardless of how hectic the day, at exactly five o’clock, my family and I hastened to the kitchen table. It didn’t matter that we were forced to watch on an outdated, twelve-inch television – antennas and cables galore. Dinnertime simply was Seinfeld time.

Many of the phrases and inside jokes my family shares come from “Seinfeld.” For example, one of our favorite episodes is when George Costanza, one of the main characters, dates a girl who says “yadda” in place of actual events when she tells a story. He becomes worried about her abuse of this phrase, however, when she says, “My ex-boyfriend came over, and yadda, yadda, yadda…I’m really tired today.” Now, whenever my brother or I don’t receive a good grade on a test or simply don’t feel like giving an explanation, we say something along the lines of, “I had a good day. Chicken nuggets for lunch…yadda, yadda, yadda.” Of course, this technique doesn’t work as well as it used to. In each episode, there are always comical misunderstandings between the characters.

Another one of our favorite episodes is when Jerry and George go to a new, popular soup stand that Kramer has told them about. The owner is nicknamed the “Soup Nazi” because of his personality and insistence on a methodical manner of behavior when customers place their orders. Elaine thinks it is ridiculous, however, and refuses to follow this method. He then proceeds to shout his famous catchphrase of “No soup for you!” Now, whenever my mom is stingy on serving us food, we jokingly refer to her as the “Kitchen Nazi” to which she replies, “No food for you!” The show even relates to the holidays. Our favorite is when George’s dad, Frank, makes up a holiday in place of Christmas because he is sick of its commercialization. This new holiday, “Festivus,” came about when he was fighting with another man over the last doll at the store. Instead of “Merry Christmas,” Frank now loudly proclaims, “It’s a Festivus for the rest of us!” While my family may not celebrate Festivus, we often joke about Frank and his rebellious holiday, mocking the motto of his holiday. “Happy Festivus!” is the usual greeting in our household during Christmastime. “Seinfeld” has intertwined itself with our life, even from the very beginning.

My parents told me they began watching Seinfeld right when it aired in 1989 while they were still working at Mississippi State University in order to learn the “American” way of speaking. Thinking about it, I’m not surprised at all by this. My dad exemplifies the most eccentric character on the show, Kramer. Both of them speak in exaggerated syllables, putting unnecessary emphasis on every word. In turn, every word is accompanied by a flurry of hand motions to make a point, more for show than effectiveness. Invisible exclamation points tack the end of each sentence: “What are you doing right now! You should study!” In contrast, my mother’s voice ebbs and flows in reassuring tones: sometimes more, sometimes less. Like Jerry Seinfeld’s mother, her decibels never rise above a certain volume; instead, they are spoken in a motherly firmness that both comforts and reprimands me when I do wrong. “Catherine, it’s okay. You will do better next time. Just prioritize your time,” she murmurs, hugging me to her in an embrace.

Most people will say that watching television is not healthy towards maintaining family bonding time because it is a distraction from meaningful conversation. However, I would have to politely disagree. You could say watching “Seinfeld” is part of a family tradition. After all, my parents’ way of speaking was influenced by those same characters. We could relate to and laugh at the misunderstandings that happened on the show because they occurred among us at home. Watching Seinfeld tied my family closer together with all of its inside jokes, phrases, and dialogue. Nowadays, whenever Seinfeld comes on TBS, my family stops, drops, and runs to reserve a spot on the couch. The show about “nothing” became “something” to us.





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