So Long, Jerry Seinfeld

So Long, Jerry Seinfeld

In recent years the last episodes of certain long-running sitcoms have become a major cultural events in American life. Record numbers of us turn on our television sets to watch what is going to happen to people who have been part of our lives for a decade or more. It doesn’t matter that the people we are worrying over were invented by a team of writers and then market tested before we got to know them. Like the characters in a serialized Victorian novel, they’re people we’ve grown attached to. Often they have been more revealing of themselves than friends or family.

The end of the Seinfeld show this May, like the much-watched endings five and fifteen years ago of Cheers and M*A*S*H, turned out to be another television milestone, drawing an estimated seventy-six million viewers as well as a tribute from Vice President Al Gore, who, during his commencement speech at New York University, observed, “Today marks the end of a significant episode, a day when you say good-bye to a strange assortment of people who have somehow become close friends. Yes, it’s truly special to be here in New York—for the end of Seinfeld.”

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