"Jerry, just remember. It's not a lie … if YOU believe it."
And just like that, Seinfeld had cemented itself as more than just a sitcom to my still-developing teenage brain when I began watching it back in the early noughties, with nothing more than a clumsily-phrased attempt by close friend George Costanza at assuring Jerry Seinfeld, the show's protagonist, before he takes a lie detector test because…actually, just watch the show.
After all, it's on Netflix in every country with a working internet connection now. Just never mind the wonky aspect ratio and screen cropping issues, which are clearly the result of Netflix's shoddy digital remastering.
The obvious attempts at capitalizing on trending news aside, few shows have left a mark as indelible as Seinfeld has on the wider television landscape. This show went from a very Woody Allen-esque slice of life sitcom to the 'show about nothing' as it was always meant to be.
But, then again, to call Seinfeld a "show about nothing" would be grossly reductive in spite of itself; not simply in terms of its cultural impact but certainly in describing its approach to comedy.
Yes, to try and pick apart the anatomy of what makes for 'good comedy' is indeed a fool's errand that only the most joyless and, ironically, humorless people indulge in, which is why the words that I will be spewing forth in the following paragraphs are going to be less about what makes Seinfeld funny and more about where exactly the show's (and indeed it's creators') brand of humor stems from.
And it all literally begins at the, errm, beginning.
Now, for the uninitiated, Seinfeld has (at least for most of its seasons) stuck to a specific "soft format" where each episode is bookended by Jerry doing a standup monologue with loose thematic ties to the episode at hand. And so, the first episode starts off with a tight five on the sheer absurdity of "going out".
Jerry: You know, why we're here? To be out, this is out ... and out is one of the single most enjoyable experiences of life. Did you ever hear people talking about "We should go out"? This is what they're talking about […] You take the shower, you get all ready, get the cash, get your friends, the car, the spot, the reservation […] and what do you do? You go: "We gotta be getting back"
It's in this monologue that we get our first glimpse of the space that Seinfeld operates within - the sheer absurdity of our everyday existence.
We go out, make all this effort to go out and enjoy ourselves just to get back to the same spot we'd started thinking about going out in the first place.
An entire episode dedicated to the Kafkaesque nightmare of waiting to get a table at a restaurant or getting lost in the modern-day labyrinthine maze that is a multi-story parking lot, and, in a genre-defining moment, a season-wide story arc about Jerry Seinfeld coming up with a fictionalized version of his real-life show within the show itself - where he would play himself - and pitching it to NBC (the network Seinfeld originally called home).
Talk about meta.
It's this gross disregard for conventional comedic and narrative priorities that ultimately elevates Seinfeld above practically every other sitcom made in the 90s and even most of the noughties.
Which is also what affords Seinfeld a certain layer of bulletproof timelessness that none of its contemporaries can even come close to.
I don't necessarily mean it in the representational sense - although the show did get a lot of props from the LGBT community for what I consider one its best episodes (The Outing), for example.
But more in terms of the observations the show made, especially their universality. Just ask any adult how they feel about standing in line at the bank and the collective groan of everyone else around them would probably travel through time and space.
Netflix's acquisition of the streaming rights to Seinfeld comes at a curious time. Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, viewers around the world seemed to have gravitated towards 'comfort watch' shows such as Friends and The Office - two sitcoms that also follow a certain format.
But I don't really expect Seinfeld to dethrone either of the shows in terms of viewers, even after their eventual exit from Netflix.
While it was incredibly popular in the 90s, in the current year, Seinfeld finds itself in a niche that it calls very much its own.
You either get with the program and laugh at the often uncomfortable absurdity of the core cast as they try to get by or go back to some other show with a bunch of morons in an apartment whining about their dates.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.