Seinfeld is lauded to be the show about nothing, but it is everything to me. A rainy day classic, able to be repeated again and again; a perfect, genre defining sitcom with the mileage to match. It first debuted in 1989, and has been gracing our screens ever since, despite ending over 20 years ago. The product of comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, although for me, the crown jewel of this court of comedic genius is a woman; one marked by bad nineties fashion and an eye roll capable of cutting diamonds. For me, she has shone in days of darkness and light, providing the world with the pondering mantra; WHAT WOULD ELAINE BENES DO.
To me, the answer is crystal clear; something a lunatic would do, because Elaine Benes, god bless her soul, is unhinged, which is so refreshing, because honestly, it is how I know women to sometimes be, expressed by outbursts, grudges and standards, to see screened on TV. This tick fleshes her out with humanity, and most importantly a rage; a righteous one, one not barred by fears of being an unpalatable liability, like yelling across a packed subway train, “I AM NOT A LESBIAN, I JUST HATE MEN.” a thought I share, because gentleman: no matter how much we love you as a individuals, but, as a group you have to sort your crap out. Channeling this, she is a vocal pro choice advocate, a literal screamer about how the US Supreme Court gave the right to have an abortion.
Her anger is a vehicle for a lot of the show’s comedy; an admission that she “once broke up with someone for not offering me pie.” and telling that annoying woman at the party that maybe “the dingo ate your baby”. She does not suffer fools gladly. Men are not something Elaine feels too sentimental about, throwing them to wayside for petty reasons. She let out a lot of women’s dirty little secret when telling Jerry that her orgasms were fake, shaking his confidence.
Elaine is a revolution, a delight and a loud mouth, who both is one of the boys, and everywoman: feminine and disruptive, problematic but principled, with a searing sense of entitlement, of what, who knows? She is more interested in saying what she doesn’t want, rather than what she does. Her power and influence lies in her being just as corrupt as the boys; their is no moral winner between her, Jerry, Kramer, George and Newman. All the main ensemble are just as heartless as each other, although she is much more ground breaking, by being categorically and unapologetically a woman, who is unreasonable, childless, sexually liberated on prime time television.
Elaine paved the way for other iconic sitcoms to write comedic equals, but I don’t think anyone has come close to making such an impression on me. She gives me guidance, and all I have to do is ask; What would Elaine Benes do?
By Clara Hill
Clara Hill is a writer living in London, overuses the word “lit” and wishes people would watch Top Hat instead of Lala Land. You can view more of her work at www.claraish.com and follow her on Instagram or Twitter