July 3, 2014 1:02 pm
Updated: July 3, 2014 1:58 pm

Important lessons ‘Seinfeld’ taught us

The cast of 'Seinfeld' - Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jason Alexander.


Some 25 years ago, life as we knew it changed.

The first episode of Seinfeld aired on July 5, 1989, and yada-yada-yada, things have never been the same.

Seinfeld bolstered our vocabularies (the mansierre/the bro, anti-dentite, shmoopie), redefined what adult friendship could look like and inspired real-life phenomena (Festivus, Kramer’s reality tour) – but more importantly, the show taught us about life.

Here are some of the important lessons that Seinfeld taught us.

There are lots of reasons why you can break up with someone

The perpetually single stars of Seinfeld dated plenty, and over the show’s nine seasons taught the public that breaking up with a partner doesn’t have to be a slow, thought-out process.

In fact, some of the accepted reasons for breaking up with a person include:

  • They eat their peas one at a time
  • They have “man hands”
  • They walk in a weird manner
  • They’re bald
  • They’re too tanned
  • They’re too good
  • They dated Newman

Double-dipping (at a public gathering) is unacceptable

At a wake for his girlfriend’s aunt, character George blows open the controversial topic of double-dipping.

After dunking his chip in a bowl of dip, he takes a bite and then dips again – much to the horror of his girlfriend’s brother Timmy.

“That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!”

George stands his ground, asserting, “you dip the way you want to dip, I’ll dip the way I want to dip.” Violence ensues.

It matters who hands over the big salad

In episode 88, Elaine asks George to bring her a “big salad” from Monk’s. After a short display of generosity – “What difference does it make who pays for lunch? It’s totally meaningless,” says George to his lady friend Julie at the coffee shop – George buys the salad, but Julie hands it over to Elaine.

“Thank you Julie!”


George is mildly outraged that Julie accepted Elaine’s thanks even though he paid for said Big Salad.

“What I would like to know is, how does a person who has nothing to do with the Big Salad claim responsibility for that salad and accept the thank-you under false pretences?”

Lesson = There no such thing as a truly unselfish act.

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Shrinkage is a thing…

If you were a female of a certain age growing up with Seinfeld, episode 85 would have been an eye-opener.

“I was in the pool!”

The first time George yelled this out in desperation, viewers across North America were split in their reaction – half scratching their heads as to what this meant, the other half nodding in quiet agreement.

The phenomenon George was trying to explain after Jerry’s girlfriend walked in on him naked was that because he was in the pool, he suffered from the temporary condition of penile shrinkage.

“It shrinks?”

“Like a frightened turtle!”

Lesson = don’t be too quick to judge.

…So is the Duty to Rescue law

In the series finale, Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer wind up in small-town Massachusetts after their plane made an emergency landing.

The four witness a carjacking, and rather than help the overweight man held at gunpoint, they film the incident while cracking jokes about his girth. The man reports this to the local authorities who arrest the four on newly passed ‘duty to rescue’ legislation.

Wait – what? That can’t be a real thing. Oh, but it is.

Several countries (although the U.S. isn’t one of them) legally require citizens to help others in distress, as long as doing so wouldn’t put themselves in danger. At minimum, bystanders are required to call emergency officials when they witness a person in distress.

The cast of ‘Seinfeld’ – Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards.


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