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“Seinfeld” makes a comeback on streaming and broadcasting alike.


OP/ED: “Seinfeld” makes a comeback.



Poison envelopes.

Kramer’s hair, or his entrance.

Even if you haven’t seen “Seinfeld”, there is a good chance that you’d recognize at least one of these phrases. Despite initial low ratings and disapproval from executives and critics alike, “Seinfeld” skyrocketed in popularity, becoming one of the most iconic shows of the 90’s and television history. At its peak, “Seinfeld”’s rating rivaled that of the Super Bowl’s, and by the last season, namesake Jerry Seinfeld and the cast was making $1 million per episode. 

Even today “Seinfeld” still remains the highest grossing sitcom of all time, raking in a total of nearly $3 billion  just from being broadcasted on NBC alone – not putting into account Netflix’s $500 million purchase of the show’s syndication in 2021. What is striking however is not how “Seinfeld” was popular in its heyday, but how “Seinfeld” still clings on. Following its final season in 1998, TBS won the exclusive right to broadcast “Seinfeld”, and the reruns still paid off greatly for the network. The 2020s however saw the rise of streaming platforms, and 2021 saw the reintroduction of “Seinfeld” to a younger, wider audience through Netflix and Comedy Central. 

Netflix bought the streaming rights in a bid to outcompete their competitors in what some people have dubbed the “streaming wars”.  Comedy Central bought out the broadcasting rights to “Seinfeld”, hence the show can primarily be watched at these sources, in addition to Hulu. 

The striking thing is almost every night, “Seinfeld” gets prime air time, up until 8:00 pm daily, while more modern entertainment such as ”The Daily Show” saw host Trevor Noah get sacked as the result of low ratings. More interestingly, a majority of viewers are below 34 years of age, meaning that they were either toddlers or not even alive when the show was still churning out new episodes. 

A prime example of the resurgence of “Seinfeld” is the growing awareness surrounding the made up holiday Festivus, a holiday created in the final season. The past year however has brought Festivus mainstream. Festivus began to pop up more on social media, talking heads on TV began to make references in panel discussions, and more and more people around me began to make references to the day. This is a testament to just how “Seinfeld”’s presence has increased with its newfound availability. 

 So why is ”Seinfeld” still so popular, while newer sitcoms such as ”Modern Family” or “The Big Bang Theory” seem to have already slipped from relevance? The answer can perhaps be found in the unique . The well defined characters and odd yet strangely relatable social situations strike a chord with just about anyone with a social life. In addition, the show is genuinely funny, making social-oriented jokes rather than out-dated, archaic references to 90s popular culture. For those who enjoy Kramer’s antics, Jerry’s social commentary, or the utterly flawed George Costanza, the originality of the show is what sets it apart from other sitcoms, as they have famously described it as a show about nothing.

Plot analysis aside, “Seinfeld” harkens back to a simpler time of pop-ins and giant phones with chords, a sort of nostalgia that has also led to the increasing popularity of “Friends” and other 90’s sitcoms. Nearly 30 years onward, and still Seinfeld references are still cropping up everywhere you look, not that there’s anything wrong with that…