How Seinfeld and Gustave Flaubert Intersect in "Nothing"

YouTube // Nerdwriter1
YouTube // Nerdwriter1 / YouTube // Nerdwriter1

The sitcom Seinfeld is famously "about nothing." This comes from a gag in the show itself, in which Jerry and George pitch a sitcom based on their lives, and George tells TV execs that the show will be about, literally, nothing. Because that episode was loosely based on Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld's experience pitching Seinfeld itself, many viewers assumed that the original pitch for Seinfeld involved the "nothing" line. But it didn't.

Still, if we think about Seinfeld, it really does seem to fit this model of being "about nothing," because it lacks many classic sitcom tropes. There's no nuclear family, nobody seems to change for the better, and entropy only increases over time. In contrast, on a typical sitcom, people would encounter problems, solve them, and learn important lessons. In Seinfeld, Larry David famously said: "No hugs, no learning." He meant it.

So if Seinfeld in some sense really is about "nothing," it begs the question: What is that "nothing"? In the video below, writer Evan Puschak (who goes by "Nerdwriter1" on YouTube) goes deep on the topic, and manages to connect the literary work of Gustave Flaubert—who wanted to write about "nothing"—with an understanding of what Seinfeld is actually about, and indeed, why it is different from other sitcoms.

This is probably the smartest writing and thinking about Seinfeld you're going to find. Enjoy: