Seinfeld Was Geek TV Before Geek TV Was Cool

Seinfeld Was Geek TV Before Geek TV Was Cool

Was Seinfeld the first geek TV show? We think so.

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Nice article. I love Seinfeld and have watched probably 90% of the series but, never really thought about all the references and how it was portrayed. I hate The Big Bang Theory for the very reason you said that it portrays such ridiculous and stereotyped characters to the point that no matter how much "nerd cred" they shove into it, it comes off as disingenuous and mean spirited.

I totally agree that few shows get it right and us nerd and geeks are just normal people like everyone else not mole basement dwelling people.

Good work, I'll defiantly have to rewatch some episodes and see it in a new light.

Eh, I'm not inclined to give Seinfeld credit because all the characters are so thoroughly unlikable, it doesn't exactly cast geek culture in a positive light. It's just as bad as Big Bang Theory, the message being "people who are interested in this stuff are weird".

Avaholic03:
Eh, I'm not inclined to give Seinfeld credit because all the characters are so thoroughly unlikable, it doesn't exactly cast geek culture in a positive light. It's just as bad as Big Bang Theory, the message being "people who are interested in this stuff are weird".

As the article points out, though, Seinfeld's characters' social quirks are rarely associated with their love of all things geeky. Where the Big Bang Theory is constantly showing it's fans "These people are socially inept BECAUSE they're all smart and into silly things," Seinfeld is just like, "These people are lazy, narcissistic loudmouths who also happen to like this kind of stuff."

That being said, I'm usually pretty lenient on modern TV's portrayals of geek culture. The only thing that really grinds my gears is when shows reference all modern video games as having "scores."

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was on for a good chunk of Seinfeld's run. Geeky TV may have been less common, but even in the early '90s it wasn't unheard of at all.

P.S. Thanks

I feel like this article really explains why I like Seinfeld. I still watch it when I get the chance, the comedy to me is timeless and spot on, and the underlying geek culture is just there. Its a natural extension of otherwise ordinary guys from New York... well still kinda geeky but not overtly. It didn't hammer you in the face with geek culture, just wandered casually into and out of it. It showed to me that there are adults who can like comics and still be ok. I'd never really seen that apart from the anathema that was the local comic book store guy.

I was thinking this exact same thing when I started re-watching Seinfeld earlier this year. I watched almost every episode growing up, but didn't appreciate just how geeky it was until looking back on it years later.

Lvl 64 Klutz:
As the article points out, though, Seinfeld's characters' social quirks are rarely associated with their love of all things geeky. Where the Big Bang Theory is constantly showing it's fans "These people are socially inept BECAUSE they're all smart and into silly things," Seinfeld is just like, "These people are lazy, narcissistic loudmouths who also happen to like this kind of stuff."

Unless you count the episode with the girl that had the toy collection. I'm pretty sure they were horrible that episode because they were into geeky toys.

For those that haven't seen the episode:

It's true. I can't think of a single moment in Seinfeld in which geek pop culture was watered down or misrepresented, and very rarely associated as something to be ashamed of. Meanwhile, the show portrays these petty, narcissistic people as characters that never win in the end. Being passionate about a comic book isn't bad for you, being an asshole is.

Thanks for helping me place Seinfeld even further above the competition as my favorite TV show of all time.

Avaholic03:
Eh, I'm not inclined to give Seinfeld credit because all the characters are so thoroughly unlikable, it doesn't exactly cast geek culture in a positive light. It's just as bad as Big Bang Theory, the message being "people who are interested in this stuff are weird".

I never understood the "unlikable" complaint, they're far better than modern sitcom characters in moral terms and writing-wise none of them really ever gets away from the consequences of their actions, especially George. Also they are grounded in reality, unlike other sitcom characters who seem to have infinate time and money and never work and have all their dreams come true (just about anyone in HIMYM).

Is this article a joke? Seinfeld constantly mocked geek behaviour. The biggest social outcast, George, was always ridiculed, Kramer was acknowledged as a weirdo whose behaviour was seen as funny simply because it was weird. I didn't see anything wrong with either of them, but the writers sure did. There were two categories of people - normal (Jerry and sometimes Elaine) and weird (everyone else). The weird was always bad, because the normal couldn't relate to it and it didn't fit into normal's culture.

Still, at least it's better than Big Bang Theory. And actually funny.

Fanghawk:
The nearest example is probably The Big Bang Theory with its surprisingly accurate pop culture and gaming references (not to mention honest-to-God love of hard science). But the characters themselves? They're still incredibly stereotypical: Sheldon and his friends are based on classic Revenge of the Nerds parody personalities, each so immersed in their hobbies that they struggle with basic social skills.

I've enjoyed plenty of BBT sketches, but this really nails why I don't like the show as a whole. Every time I visit my not-geeky in-laws they're always so keen to point out "Hey I watch this show and you'd love it. Because you see it's about these big nerds, like you!" They're genuine in their belief that I would like the show and only want to share their fun with me, but aren't familiar enough with the culture to realize that plenty of those jokes can be straight up offensive.

I don't think jokes are offensive because someone teased bad facts about games. They aren't bad because of the age old joke "math is useless outside of high school" or anything else in regard to people diving really deep into science fields. They're offensive because they have a tendency to force the association that being a techy, a geek, a gamer, or other nerd hobby enthusiast AUTOMATICALLY CORRELATES to having zero social skills. Sheldon is arguably the main character but as mentioned in plenty of other places he is written in such a way that he is essentially autistic. Having a savant lead would be amazing for a tv show if only they didn't do it exclusively to laugh at him. Maybe that's a little too harsh, so I'll rephrase it as laugh with him, but in a bad way.

I would say that the show has in a tangible way negatively shaped the way that my extended family interacts with me and assumes/expects me to interact back. That is, completely ignore me until something awkward is seen or heard, and upon so look at me as if I obviously feel associated with it so that can laugh and then go back to their thing. Most of it is probably just because they're in-laws though!

At least when writing Sheldon they never went full retard.

Seinfeld was never that big in Britain, so watching it late at night as a teenager could probably be considered one of my geeky hobbies. I'm a huge Superman fan, so the fact that Jerry was too helped normalise something even my friends didn't really get.

Blood Brain Barrier:
Is this article a joke? Seinfeld constantly mocked geek behaviour. The biggest social outcast, George, was always ridiculed, Kramer was acknowledged as a weirdo whose behaviour was seen as funny simply because it was weird. I didn't see anything wrong with either of them, but the writers sure did. There were two categories of people - normal (Jerry and sometimes Elaine) and weird (everyone else). The weird was always bad, because the normal couldn't relate to it and it didn't fit into normal's culture.

Still, at least it's better than Big Bang Theory. And actually funny.

That had nothing to do with them liking Superman or comic books or whatever. George was mocked because he was a self loathing egomaniac, and Kramer was, well... Kramer. As a matter of fact it was the "normal" main character of the show who was the biggest Superman fan of all.

The only time I can remember anyone in the show being slightly looked down upon for geeky behaviour is when Jerry starts singing Bugs Bunny's 'Overture' infront of the opera house, and Elaine replies how sad it is that the only knowledge he has of high culture comes from cartoons.

Let's not forget that Frank Costanza was a Browncoat.

SERENITY NOW!

I would have watched maybe 15 or 20 episodes, pretty much all of them at other people's houses. I am struggling to remember even cracking a smile. Seinfeld's humour has always been lost on me Im afraid.

Cue death threats.... aaaaand go!

Lvl 64 Klutz:
That being said, I'm usually pretty lenient on modern TV's portrayals of geek culture. The only thing that really grinds my gears is when shows reference all modern video games as having "scores."

To be fair, lots of them still do. I'm not just talking about Facebook puzzle games, either. Those scorecards that pop up at the end of PVP deathmatches in many online games showing damage / healing / kills / deaths and so on is one example.

Great points from Marshall here.

I also thought Breaking Bad's portrayal of Rage was annoying, but at least the show nailed ModNation racers. (I think that was the racing game Jesse was playing with the girl when he turned his house into a meth den.)

Avaholic03:
Eh, I'm not inclined to give Seinfeld credit because all the characters are so thoroughly unlikable, it doesn't exactly cast geek culture in a positive light. It's just as bad as Big Bang Theory, the message being "people who are interested in this stuff are weird".

That's pretty much how I took it as well.

Having geeky references in your show doesn't make it geek friendly. Most of the references in Seinfeld were used to play up and reenforce what a bunch of self absorbed man children the characters are.

Diddy_Mao:

Avaholic03:
Eh, I'm not inclined to give Seinfeld credit because all the characters are so thoroughly unlikable, it doesn't exactly cast geek culture in a positive light. It's just as bad as Big Bang Theory, the message being "people who are interested in this stuff are weird".

That's pretty much how I took it as well.

Having geeky references in your show doesn't make it geek friendly. Most of the references in Seinfeld were used to play up and reenforce what a bunch of self absorbed man children the characters are.

Except that Jerry is basically playing an exaggerated version of himself. George is Larry David and Cosmo Kramer is based on Larry David's neighbour Kenny Kramer. They're not showing anyone in a way they're not prepared to show themselves. The unlikable charge is also sort of undercut by the fact that this was one of American television's biggest ever shows! People don't turn on their TVs to watch characters they don't like. Yes, the characters were self-absorbed, but we also make beloved characters of drug dealers, scheming politicians (in Washington and Westeros) and serial killers.

Anyway, everyone was self-absorbed in the nineties.

 

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