‘Seinfeld’ Won A Prestigious Award From Doctors for a Health PSA

When you hear “Seinfeld,” you probably don’t jump to thinking about meaningful messaging around a serious health crisis. In fact, the show — which has infamously been referred to as a “show about nothing” — is mostly known for its irreverence and absurdity.

It certainly isn’t the first place that people would look for an important health announcement, but that’s exactly what made it so effective as a messenger. In fact, Seinfeld once won a prestigious award for delivering an important health PSA in a way that few other outlets could. 

‘Seinfeld’ was known for its absurdity

Michael Richards, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jerry Seinfeld
Michael Richards, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jerry Seinfeld | Andrew Eccles/NBCU Photo Bank

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It’s hard to say exactly what Seinfeld was about. At its core, it was a kind of memoir for creator Jerry Seinfeld who took his real-life experiences — which first informed his stand-up routines — and turned them into a sitcom featuring a beloved ensemble cast.

Seinfeld was known for creating situational comedy out of everyday observations even before the launch of his self-titled series, but the show took the style of humor to new heights and a greatly expanded audience. 

Without a doubt, fans were most drawn to the friendships and interactions between the quirky cast of characters. The fact that they repeatedly found themselves in absurd situations just provided a backdrop for the oft-quoted one liners and witty banter that made fans fall in love.

The show enjoyed a long run and something of a cult following that has kept its popularity (and endless rewatchability) active for years. 

One ‘Seinfeld’ episode featured Marcia Cross 

Today best known for her role on Desperate Housewives, Marcia Cross once had a notable guest appearance on Seinfeld. Long before she was cooking up neighborhood drama as Bree Van De Kamp, Cross donned a white coat to portray a dermatologist named Dr. Sara Sitarides on the irreverent sitcom in 1997. 

The episode, which was the seventh of the series’ ninth season, features the signature absurdity of the show as a whole. A few different plot points weave in and out over the course of the episode.

Elaine is being driven crazy by her neighbor’s alarm clock, which he left on when he went out of town. Desperate for relief, she blows the fuses in her building, but that inadvertently turns off the automatic feeder for the neighbor’s cat, so she’s working hard to right her wrongs with a meat slicer.

Meanwhile, Jerry has been dating Cross’ character Dr. Sara Sitarides, but he is frustrated that she makes him feel inadequate for having a job less important than hers. After all, she saves lives. 

The ‘Seinfeld’ episode won an award

While Dr. Sitarides’ character was primarily present to act as a foil for Jerry’s own insecurities, she also managed to deliver an important message. As Ranker explains, the episode provided notable and real information about skin cancer awareness in between the laughs. Since skin cancer is, according to the American Cancer Society, by far the most common form of cancer, it’s incredibly important that people understand the role screening can play in early detection and treatment. 

Cross’s portrayal of Dr. Sitarides did so much to deliver this message to a primetime audience that the American Academy of Dermatology thought it was worthy of recognition in the form of an award. Throughout the episode, Jerry had mocked Dr. Sitarides, suggesting that she was nothing more than a “pimple popper” and that her claim about saving lives was overblown.

Viewers got to see that dermatological care is about much more than keeping skin free from blemishes and actually about protecting one’s body from deadly cancers. This message is one that still needs to be heard today, and Seinfeld led the way in presenting it to audiences in a way they’d actually hear.