Jewish World Review Dec. 11, 2002 / 6 Teves, 5763

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Cursed | Modern media coverage is frequently marked by magical thinking, the kind of primitive thought processes that leads folks to believe that sacrificing a goat will bring a solar eclipse to a quick conclusion, or that anti-fraud legislation will end corruption.

The latest example is a widespread belief in the so-called "Seinfeld Curse."

Because Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and Michael Richards have all starred in failed situation comedies since SEINFELD went off the air, the theory goes, they have therefore been cursed. They will never again scale the television heights. They opened the mummy's tomb, said "Candyman" three times in front of the mirror, cracked Pandora's Box, and are now condemned to wander the vast wasteland forever and alone, clutching only a cell phone, on which their agents have put them on eternal hold.

While there is something appealing about the notion of doomed TVland demigods, I get a little confused as to what force, exactly, doomed them, and why. I'll grant that they are probably guilty of hubris --- but every actor is guilty of hubris. Somehow I can't see the Judeo-Christian G-d bestirring Himself to smite them so cruelly.

Then again, G-d is thanked daily by athletes and beauty pageant participants for allowing them to win their very important contests. If God was in fact in their corner, that would mean He was actively preventing other competitors from winning, many of whom had been praying for victory themselves. So who knows? He just might hold a grudge against the cast of SEINFELD, perhaps as a result of prayers by the cast of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, or by television viewers who have had it up to here with SEINFELD reruns. I will not presume to know His ways.

On the other hand, it could be a voodoo curse by actors who auditioned to be on SEINFELD and didn't make it. Maybe Julia, Jason, and Michael reneged on a pact with Satan. Maybe there's a vast conspiracy by those television viewers who just "didn't get" SEINFELD, and seek to punish everybody involved with its creation. (Though that would hardly explain the success of SEINFELD co-creator Larry David's CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM on HBO --- unless of course, Larry David himself is behind the curse.)

It could even be that their sitcoms went down in flames because they were poorly conceived, written, and executed. That's difficult to accept, I know, far-fetched, even crazy, but in the interest of skeptical inquiry, I thought I'd better throw it out there.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Ian Shoales