Seinfeld is one of my favorite shows. Period.
But I just noticed, having watched a couple episodes in a binge session, how well the four lead characters perfectly exemplify the Dramatica ‘modes of expression’ for comedy.
humor drawn from the difficulties created by placing characters in some predicament (for example TV Sitcoms).
Of the four leads, Jerry is the one that gets himself into situations more than any other. His storylines tend to focus on the absurd situations he’s got himself into (being caught picking his nose in traffic, for example).
pratfalls, slapstick, and other forms of humor drawn from physical activities gone awry (for example The Three Stooges and much of Charlie Chaplin’s work)
Kramer so perfectly exemplifies the physical comedy of the show, right down to the ‘slides’ into Jerry’s apartment. He’s the most active member of the cast with the most outlandishly physical storylines (e.g. taking over his friend’s horse-drawn carriage; rebuilding the Merv Griffin set in his apartment and interviewing friends).
Comedy of Manners—(Comedy/Fixed Attitude)—Elaine
humor derived from divergent attitudes, biases, or fixations - often noted as drawing room comedies (for example Jack Benny or Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest).
Elaine is neurotic, impulsive, arrogant and often gets caught up in the faults and problematic quirks of her friends and lovers. She is brutally honest and her storylines often deal with her issues regarding men or differing opinions with people around her.
Comedy of Errors—(Comedy/Manipulation)—George
humor derived from misinterpretation or, in psychological terms, attribution error (for example Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First and several Shakespeare comedies including Twelfth Night).
George exemplifies the comedic misattributions with his constant lies and schemes that get wildly out of control. His storylines often feature him creating a mess of misunderstandings or getting the wrong idea and causing chaos in the process.
This is interesting to me because I don’t think any of the episodes are Grand Argument stories (“no hugging, no learning” suggests nobody ever really changes or even grows). But it’s clear that one of the greatest sitcoms ever made lines up at least partially with Dramatica.