The Show About Nothing

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Boredom is a very hard word to define.  It’s actually almost impossible to define.  There are so many different types of boredom and so many different types of situations in which boredom arises.  If you asked 100 people what boredom is, there is a pretty high chance you would get 100 different definitions.

To me, boredom is the absence of activity.  Nothingness.

However, if that is true, how is it that my all time favorite show is “a show about nothing?”  It almost makes no sense.  It makes no sense that I can be entertained by “nothing.”

But, Seinfeld, if you ask me (and just about any rational person), is the best show of all time.  It ran for nine years and was even ranked by TV Guide as the greatest television program of all time, however, for all nine years of its impressive run it was about nothing.

Now, I was not even born until Seinfeld was about half way through its run, but try not to hold that against me.   Through the power of syndication and the Internet, I have been lucky enough to see just about every episode at least once.  And, I can say for certain that at almost no point during any of the 180 episodes was I bored.

This leads to another question: what makes for an entertaining television show?

Obviously, if this question was easy to answer, there would be a lot less awful sitcoms that last for barely a season on TV and the thousands of pilots that never made it to air wouldn’t be just a bunch of pilots that never made it to air.  If I had to try to answer that question, though, I would say it takes a certain balance to make an entertaining TV show.  It takes a balance of drama and comedy while also including a cast of characters that viewers will genuinely care about, even though they don’t exist.

This causes another contradiction.  Although Seinfeld does have quite a few comedic moments (about a trillion), it includes almost no drama and even though I like Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer more than about 95% of the people I know, I never actually cared about them.   I never felt bad for Jerry or George when their countless romances never worked out.  And, same goes for Elaine and Kramer.  Even though there was never a real “happy ending” (usually the opposite occurred actually), I never cared.  It is safe to say that I had/have virtually no emotion invested in Seinfeld whatsoever.

Again, this makes no sense.  While having no emotion invested, I was thoroughly entertained for just about every second.  Even though I did not actually care about what happened or about any of the characters’ feelings, I was never bored.

This brings me back to the concept of boredom.  It is, in fact, impossible to define.  It is impossible to define when or where or why people get bored.

So, even though I cannot provide you with an accurate definition, I can provide you with some advice.  If you’re bored right now, turn on TBS and cross your fingers in hope that The Big Bang Theory isn’t on and enjoy an episode of Seinfeld or two.

 

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