‘Seinfeld’: Why Jason Alexander Thought the Series Wouldn’t ‘Run for Even a Day’

Seinfeld is an iconic TV series. More than three decades since Seinfeld debuted, the comedy remains beloved by fans. It has a firm place in pop culture much to the surprise of Jason Alexander. The award-winning Seinfeld actor didn’t think the program would ever air. 

Jason Alexander played George Constanza on ‘Seinfeld’

Jason Alexander as George Costanza on 'Seinfeld'
Jason Alexander as George Costanza on Seinfeld | Maria McCarty/NBCU Photo Bank

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After his Tony Award-winning performance in the musical, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Alexander took his talents to TV. He played George Costanza on Seinfeld, an often out-of-work man with eccentric parents and a tight grip on his wallet.

Alexander co-starred on Seinfeld opposite Jerry Seinfeld as himself, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, and Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer. 

Seinfeld, aka the show about nothing, debuted on July 5, 1989. The comedy followed Jerry’s life as a stand-up comedian living in New York City and that of his friends. It focused on the small events that made up the foursome’s daily lives as opposed to bigger, dramatic storylines. 

Jason Alexander didn’t think ‘Seinfeld’ would be successful because he didn’t watch TV

Speaking to the Deseret News in 1992, Alexander confessed he thought Seinfeld wouldn’t make it to TV let alone become a success. He told the outlet he enjoyed the script right away but he had reservations about people actually watching the show. 

“From the moment I saw the script I thought it would be the most brilliant thing I’d ever be part of, and that it would not run for even a day,” Alexander said.

Why? “Because the audience for this show is me, and I don’t watch TV,” he explained.

Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld,Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, and Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer on 'Seinfeld'
Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, and Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld | George Lange/NBCU Photo Bank

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The actor continued, saying he and his Seinfeld co-stars had no expectations for the program.

“But I don’t think anyone is more surprised by the success of [Seinfeld] than we are, because we thought, ‘Oh, we’ll amuse ourselves, and that’ll be it. We’ll have a videotape at the end of it that we could play at parties,’” Alexander said. 

Seinfeld became a pop culture phenomenon with millions of people tuning in every week to watch a new episode of the series. 

‘Seinfeld’ series finale drew millions of viewers

76.3 million viewers tuned in to watch the Seinfeld series finale in May 1998. The whopping number of viewers made Seinfeld’s last episode one of the most-watched series finales ever.

Seinfeld didn’t want 10 seasons of the TV series and chose instead to call it quits after Seinfeld Season 9. After nearly a decade on the air, Seinfeld won Emmy Awards, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and more.

Today, Seinfeld is streaming on Hulu, introducing a new generation to the show about nothing. In 2021, Netflix will be Seinfeld’s new home.

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