Why is Seinfeld considered a show about ‘nothing’?

Seinfeld is often described as a show about 'nothing'. I've heard it being referred to as a 'show about nothing' many times. Could anyone clarify this concept for me?

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The term "a show about nothing" comes from one of Seinfeld's own episodes where Jerry Seinfeld and his friend George Costanza (played by Jason Alexander) pitch a TV show to a network that is, quite literally, about nothing. This is often interpreted as a kind of meta-commentary on Seinfeld itself. Seinfeld was unique, especially for its time, because it didn't rely on the typical plot-driven or situation-based narratives for a sitcom. Most sitcoms of its era were centered around a particular context, often a family (like The Cosby Show, Full House), workplace (like Cheers, The Office), or other situational environments. They would typically explore common themes like love, relationships, moral dilemmas, etc. Seinfeld, however, veered from traditional storytelling by crafting episodes around everyday, banal aspects of life. It highlighted the minutiae, the 'nothing' elements of daily life – waiting in line, looking for a car in a parking garage, losing your car keys, the social protocols around gifts and re-gifting, etc. – and turned them into comedic gold through the idiosyncrasies of its characters. The show was centered around the lives of four friends living in New York City, and while there were certainly stories and character arcs, a lot of the show's content was literally about 'nothing' - just the characters navigating their way through seemingly mundane and trivial life situations. So, calling Seinfeld a "show about 'nothing'" is an oversimplification, but it reflects one of the ways the series broke the mould of traditional sitcoms by finding comedy in everyday triviality. It's more accurate to say it’s about ‘everything and nothing’ at the same time, much like our everyday lives. If you're a fan of the show, you might even argue that this is part of its genius – Seinfeld finds humor in the familiar, the mundane, the normalcy, and the silliness that are ever-present in our lives. It reflects our reality back to us, only funnier.
Answered on September 3, 2023.
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