The behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld—the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world, altering the lives of everyone it touched.
Even for those of us who imagine ourselves experts, Armstrong scatters delicious details throughout her book ... To me, the notion of a Seinfeldia dimension is a bit forced, a little yada yada nada. But in describing the making and writing of this singular show, Armstrong is queen of the castle. Her stories about Seinfeld are real — and they’re spectacular.
These sorts of arguments — that we are living in the world that X made — have become coma-inducing. X can be solved for anyone and anything: Betty Boop, Betty Crocker, Henry Ford, Hedda Hopper, Bo Diddley, Twiggy, Daniel Ellsberg, Boris Johnson. The reasons to come to Seinfeldia are its carefully marshaled history lesson, and Ms. Armstrong’s way of laying out her produce as if she were operating a particularly good stall at a farmer’s market...I haven’t watched Seinfeld reruns for a while. I overdosed years ago and went cold turkey. Perhaps the highest praise I can give Seinfeldia is that it made me want to buy a loaf of marbled rye and start watching again, from the beginning.
There’s nothing breathtakingly new here about Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), George (Jason Alexander) or Kramer (Michael Richards), the quartet of Seinfeld characters whose particularly pronounced, often obsessive-compulsive and sometimes borderline personalities defied the odds, altered the TV landscape and permeated pop culture as few others have. Having said that…Armstrong, a TV columnist who spent a decade at Entertainment Weekly, does an often charming job of deconstructing the groundbreaking creation of comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. When the book succeeds, it’s in the retelling, with its greatest contribution found in the behind-the-scenes conversations in the writers’ room. But Armstrong’s apparent need to justify the book’s title proves to be its weakest link.