Seinfeld is, of course, the best show of all time (to quote Poppy, quite fittingly, “On this issue there’s no debate!”). For those of you who are less fanatical about it than I am (which is a bit disappointing, as an aside), you might not realize that it serves as an incredibly accurate blueprint of human behavior. It’s a biblical document, in its way.
Here are ten quotes that will hopefully convince you that the Seinfeld writers already canvassed your life problems. Consult the show to see how things turn out (Hint: not well. Sorry).
1. “Ahh, what’s the point? When I like them, they don’t like me, when they like me I don’t like them. Why can’t I act with the ones I like the way I do with the ones I don’t like?”
My all-time favourite quote from the show. Part of the genius of it is in George’s intonation. It sums up human relationships in a few lines (well, except for the ‘functional, reciprocal, healthy relationship’, which people keep telling me is a thing. Right…)
2. “I can’t die with dignity. I have no dignity. I want to be the one person who doesn’t die with dignity. I’ve lived my whole life in shame! Why should I die with dignity?”
Gold. Pure. Gold. The reality of staring down death. There’s a part of you that believes you’ll die with dignity…but maybe that isn’t going to happen and you’ll go down kicking and screaming with as much resistance and cowardice as possible – I’m confident I will (thanks Louis CK, I kind of borrowed/stole that sentence structure from you).
3. “Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year’s gone by and how little we’ve grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake we know it’s not to be. That for the rest of our sad, wretched, pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end – inevitably, irrevocably. Happy birthday? No such thing.”
It might say something about me that just thinking about this scene forces me to hold back laughter. Seinfeld’s just pretending to be dour, but the quote stands. Really, that’s all there is. And I delight in posting this quote on people’s Facebook timelines as my happy birthday message. I’m that nice a friend.
4. “You’re giving me the ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ routine? I invented ‘It’s not you, it’s me’! No one tells me it’s them. If it’s anybody, it’s me!”
That’s right, folks. Save your bullshit break-up excuses. That way, your heartbroken ex can stop deluding themselves that you’re just going through a complicated messy deep period and you’re still perfect for each other and will end up together in the end. George has saved us all a lot of time by laying it out like it is. If only people who were getting broken up with could have his steely realist vision.
5. “Oh, this is great. This is what I need, just what I need. Okay, take it easy, I’m sure it’s nothing. Probably rats on the track, they’re stopping for rats. God it’s so crowded, how could there be so many people? This guy really smells. Doesn’t anyone use deodorant in the city? What is so hard, you take the cap off, you roll it on. What’s that? I feel something rubbing against me. Disgusting animals, these people should be in a cage. We are in a cage. … I can’t breathe, I feel faint. Okay, take it easy , it’ll start moving soon. Think about people in concentration camps, what they went through. And the hostages. What would you do if you were a hostage? Think about that. This is nothing. No, it’s not nothing, it’s something! It’s a nightmare! HELP ME!”
Elaine’s internal rant when stuck on a delayed subway train is possibly the best thing that’s ever aired on television, and every train commuter (in Australia, at least) has felt her pain. From the panicked attempts to calm herself down to her contemplation of people’s inexplicable and unfortunate reluctance to use deodorant, she nails what it’s like to be stuck claustrophobically on the buckling, lousy public transport system. Beyond that, the monologue pretty much encapsulates the thoughts of any anxious person in times of stress.
6. “Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable, I was bright…oh, maybe not academically speaking, but I was perceptive. I always know when someone’s uncomfortable at a party. It all became very clear to me sitting out there today that every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat – it’s all been wrong.”
I bet you this self-pity spiral is familiar. Do you ever wonder exactly how you went from a kid with potential and dreams and spirit and soul to an office drone or retail slave working overtime to pay off what ended up being a completely pointless degree? You obviously fucked up somewhere along the line. Like George here. He gets you. He’s been there too. It’s a quote that makes you laugh on the surface and weep pathetically on the inside as you ponder the reality of your own failed existence.
7. “I’m not a lesbian! I hate men, but I’m not a lesbian!”
If you’re a heterosexual woman, chances are you’ve thought the second half of this quote at some point (there’s a fair chance you think it regularly). And what a frustrating paradox it is.
8. “Elaine, breaking up is like knocking over a Coke machine. You can’t do it in one push; you gotta rock it back and forth a few times and then it goes over.”
Has anyone ever had a clean first (‘first’ being the key word) break up with a long-term partner? No? Didn’t think so. If you have, a tip of the hat to you, you paragon of decisiveness. Most people lack that conviction and self-restraint. If they were broken up with, they think ‘Oh my god! I’m nothing without him/her!’ even if the relationship was completely unsatisfying, and if they did the breaking up they will get tremendously insecure if the dumpee isn’t stalking them and beside themselves with grief. It’s a sad indictment on our reality.
9. “And if I have to tell you again, we’re gonna take it outside and I’m gonna show you what it’s like, you understand me? Now shut your mouths or I’m gonna shut ‘em for ya! And if you think I’m kidding, just try me, try me. Because I would LOVE IT!”
This exact diatribe is what I fantasise about saying to people when I’m overcome by rage. It’s kind of an angry fantasy of mine (that’s normal, right? Having angry fantasies…?). However, I don’t usually say things like this because at about 53kg/5’6” it probably wouldn’t end well for me unless my assailant was really small/incompetent/badly injured already. You’ve most likely thought something like this at some point, probably while pondering what you would’ve liked to have done in a confrontation after the fact (in reality, what you did was apologise for something you shouldn’t have been sorry about in the hope your foe would let you leave without pounding in your face). If you have any balls, you’ll take the punt and say something like this in a tense situation at least once (NB: this might not actually be good advice).
10. “That’s it! This is it! I’m done! Through! It’s over! I’m gone! Finished! Over! I will never work for you again! Look at you! You think you’re an important man, is that what you think? You are a laughing stock. You are a joke. These people are laughing at you! You’re nothing! You have no brains, no ability, nothing. I quit!”
And George shows you how it’s done. Every employee’s fantasy? You’ve had a dick of a boss before who’s made your job hell. This is how you would quit if you were going to do it right (i.e. without fear of repercussions). Bear in mind that this doesn’t go so well for Georgey Boy afterwards, though. But what an exhilarating ride while it lasted.