>>> Casual Misanthropy
By staff writer JD Rebello
May 23, 2004
A few Thursdays ago, I fulfilled my white obligation and watched the Friends finale, far and away the most overdone and over-hyped TV experience of the year. And remember, this is a year in which we've been subjected to FOX promos telling us the next American Idol winner will cure cancer or some shit.
Naturally, the Friends ending sucked ass, not surprising given how badly the last six years of the show have utterly sucked. Seriously, what the fuck happened to that show? The first few years, hysterical. Chandler was cruising toward the funniest character in TV history with only Beavis as a serious contender. The monkey was outrageous and helped ease viewers into the insanity that is David Schwimmer. And was it just me or was old-school Courteney Cox mad hot? I mean, before she added the Arquette and lost 99 pounds and both breasts. I always thought the Cox was even hotter than Jennifer Aniston (no slouch herself). Anyway, the show hit a wall right around the time the gang came back from London. The monkey was long gone. Ross became a glaring idiot. Chandler started dating Monica and his balls fell off. Phoebe became intolerable. They made Joey too dumb. Everyone got inexplicably rich. Too many babies. Too many weddings. It was all downhill from there.
Naturally, the finale was just as grating as you'd expect. I'm not even going to cover plot details, but it was horrendous. The whole wrong airport thing, I mean who wrote that? Despicable. Still, not the worst series finale I've ever seen. Oh no, that dishonor goes to…what else, Seinfeld.
Let me set something straight. Seinfeld is the greatest TV show of all time. Can you name one better? The Simpsons? Great, but not as revolutionary. Cheers? Ehh, Carla and Diane were annoying as hell. E.R.? Please, that show was taken off life support years ago. Seinfeld, however, was consistently great for years. Sure, it eventually faded, right around when Elaine took over J. Peterman, and George became a little too angry, but it didn't die the way Friends died. Namely, it didn't become a chick show. No monkeys left. Nobody got whipped. No weddings (the only potential wedding killed off the bride). No babies. Terrific show.
Seriously, if I had to make a “Top 100 TV Moments” column, Seinfeld would figure in at least a third of them. In fact, just for kicks, here's the top 10:
10. Beavis and Butthead raving about the Beastie Boys' “Sabotage” video. “Okay here's the rookie! Now here's Cochise!”
9. Marcel dancing to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on the Friends episode where everyone plays poker.
8. Larry's typo in Cheryl's aunt's obituary on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
7. Chris Farley doing Matt Foley and just killing David Spade and Kelly Bundy.
6. Cartman kicking Kyle's ass for giving him “Ants in the Pants” for his 8th birthday. “You…cheap…son of a bitch…I hope you die!”
5. George Costanza telling Steinbrenner: “With all due respect, I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization. In the past twenty years you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress as we have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduced them to a laughing stock, all for the glorification of your massive ego!”
4. (tie) a. Every minute of the Simpsons' “Homer at the Bat” episode.
b. Every minute of the Beavis and Butthead “Nose Bleed” episode.
3. Any Weekend Update with Norm McDonald.
2. Homer Simpson's alibi to prove he wasn't at a bar: “I was at the pornography store. I was buying pornography.”
1. Kramer slapping down the money in the “Contest” episode. “I'M OUT!”
The funniest TV show of all time was the Contest episode, where the gang bets to see who can put off wankin' it the longest. Nothing beats George visiting his mother in the hospital just to check out the lesbian sponge bath in the next room.
Seinfeld at its best was filled with moments like these. Jerry was the perfect straight man, Kramer was always hysterical, Elaine was that rare funny female character (can you think of any funny female characters ever in TV? Maybe Samantha from Sex and the City. Umm, not that I watch that show, please don't take my man card.) I could praise the show for years, but I digress.
The finale, however, was pure, unadulterated death. I don't know what happened. Larry David, who wrote the show during its finest years, returned. Was there too much hype? I don't think so, because that wouldn't explain why the show is virtually laugh-free. First of all, who came up with this idea? Let's send everyone's favorite characters to prison, turn them into hateful people, and surround them with annoying assholes. Come on, now. Second, why take them out of New York, where the show always thrived. Think of every show that didn't involve the usual sets (Jerry's apartment, the coffee shop, etc.)…they always sucked. The two-part California episode was horrendous in every facet. Not that I blame the writers. I blame California, if anything. That's my rule. When all else fails, blame California. Third, they tried to make the story about something, which would be fine if it wasn't the “Show about fucking NOTHING!” That's why the last couple of seasons were never too special. They weren't awful (and certainly far more watchable than the vaginal disgust that Friends became), just not up to the bar that the first few seasons set.
I still remember watching the Seinfeld finale, everything about the night. I was 15, sitting in the basement den watching it on TV. The first hour was great, a clip show of all the best Seinfeld moments, ending with a sad farewell set to Green Day's “Time of your Life,” probably the ultimate graduation song. Then the show began. For 15 minutes, I waited for something funny to happen, as the cast inexplicably ended up in some small town, charged with one of the most inane (not insane) plot contrivances ever. They brought back some old friends. We learned the Soup Nazi's first name. Even Teri Hatcher showed up. Apparently she had time in her busy schedule of Radio Shack commercials.
Finally the show ended, trying to look ironic by ending with the same conversation that the show began with (not a bad idea, but then the show tanked itself further with Jerry doing bad standup for prison inmates, and we were reminded how much the show sucked. It's like you're team being no-hit through nine innings, then having someone get a base hit, followed by the pitcher striking out the side). I sat there staring at the TV for about a half hour after the show ended, wearing one of those “I can't believe it's over, and that's how it ended!” looks like the one I gave after Aaron Boone's home run. Imagine whacking off for a long time and ending up shitting your pants. It's kind of like that. (See? This is why my metaphors all have to be sports-related.)
Want to know how I'd have ended Seinfeld? Simple, just write another show. Any show, any idea, don't even consider it's a finale. Deliberately underwhelm the audience. The real finale tried to do too much, and it sucked royally. Do another show where Jerry screws up a relationship, George screws up at life, Kramer tries something zany, and Elaine proves the long-standing theorem that women are fucked up. It worked for nine years, why change now?
Looking back on it, has any show ever had a good finale? MacGyver was probably the best, him meeting his son and all. Beavis and Butthead ended things nicely, even though they settled for what was essentially a glorified clip show and a misleading title: “BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD ARE DEAD”. Liars. Cheers was okay. So was Cosby. I guess it's just too hard to end things. That's probably why most of my column conclusions look like I was too drunk and asked a retarded five-year-old to finish up. I probably shouldn't have said that. A magician never gives away his secrets.
So, to wrap up, the Friends ending sucked, but who cares, besides girls? It didn't suck to the same degree as the Seinfeld disaster. I really have no clue how to end this, so I'm going to jail, or I'll have twins, or maybe it was all just a dream. I'm Richard Dean Anderson, and this has been seven wonderful seasons. Has anyone seen that retarded 5-year-old?