Seinfeld (The Complete Series) (1989-1998)

There’s no denying that “Seinfeld” is a product of its time, but it’s still just as entertaining and hilarious today as it was during its original run. Much has been made of the show’s absurdist appeal and it’s intentional lack of narrative build-up, but what makes the show work as well as it does is a combination of superior comedic writing and extraordinary ensemble acting by its four lead stars. Jerry Seinfeld himself is the weak link among all four, but he seems to be in on the joke and there’s enough self-deprecation to make his limitations palatable, and the show knows how to mine comedic potential from his limited repertoire. Michael Richards as Kramer excels at pratfalls and physical comedy, while Jason Alexander makes George a stubbornly unlikable protagonist who refuses to apologize for his shortcomings, and he’s screamingly funny in the role. And finally, there’s the show’s MVP, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose Elaine similarly refuses to be likable, and it’s remarkable to watch the scarily talented performer throw herself into this unflattering role like nothing could be more fun. Add in a veritable coterie of strong supporting characters (like Seinfeld and George’s respective parents, and of course, Wayne Knight’s Newman) that manage to take the strong writing and extract comedy gold in just about every episode, and it’s not hard to see why this show’s reputation has endured as much as it has.

Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)

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