Hello ... Jerry: Seinfeld Yada, Yada, Yadas Its Way to Victory in the Pop Culture Bracket as the Most Influential Entertainment Topic on the Workplace-Not That There's Anything Wrong with That

By Rothschild, Richard | Workforce Management, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Hello ... Jerry: Seinfeld Yada, Yada, Yadas Its Way to Victory in the Pop Culture Bracket as the Most Influential Entertainment Topic on the Workplace-Not That There's Anything Wrong with That


Rothschild, Richard, Workforce Management


It was called "the show about nothing," yet over nine seasons Seinfeld mattered very much to millions of TV viewers.

On the surface, it would seem that a show whose main characters were not exactly workforce go-getters would not provide many workplace stories, but that's where you'd be wrong. Seinfeld, in fact, had much ado about something when it came to employment matters.

Indeed, it should be of little surprise that the award-winning sitcom topped 63 other contenders in Workforce Management's Pop Culture bracket challenge.

Certainly, the numbers verified the readers' verdict. During its final four seasons on the air, Seinfeld ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the Nielsen Media Research ratings.

Created by stand-up comic Jerry Seinfeld and writer Larry David, Seinfeld introduced such cultural landmark phrases as "Yada, yada, yada," "No soup for you" and "Not that there's anything wrong with that." Many of the episodes were based on the writers' real-life experiences, such as "The Revenge" episode where George Costanza (Jason Alexander) quits his job only to realize later that he didn't think things through, so he shows up the next day and acts as if nothing happened. In real life, David reportedly pulled the same stunt while working as a writer on Saturday Night Live, but he had better results with the strategy than George did.

Jerry Seinfeld's real-life persona as a stand-up comic did share a show business/entertainment element with a pair of comedy heavyweights from TV's earlier days: I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show. But unlike those shows, Jerry's comedy career was merely a backdrop to the funny business on the show. Many Seinfeld shows barely mentioned Jerry's stand-up gig, and its characters were not united by work.

Yet Chuck Ross, managing director of Workforce sister publication TVWeek, noted that Seinfeld "certainly had a lot of shows about the workplace," be it restaurants, car repair shops or courtrooms.

And some of the show's supporting characters actually had regular jobs. Jerry's nemesis, Newman (Wayne Knight), for instance, worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier. In one episode, he and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) devise a scheme to use a mail truck to bring a bevy of bottle caps to Michigan to collect 10 cents apiece from the deposits, instead of the 5 cents they get in New York. We're guessing human resources would have a field day with that one.

But the main characters' jobs were just as important to the plot lines. Jerry, for one, provided ballast as a stand-up comic. …

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