Current network television comedies such as Abbott Elementary and The Conners are undoubtedly popular with viewers, as they are among the most watched half-hour programs on the air. These figures, along with the rating statistics obtained by almost everything that is broadcast on television today (with the exception of NFL games), pale in comparison with the monstrous figures obtained by such favorites of the 90s as “Seinfeld” and “Friends”. The star of the latest sitcom, Lisa Kudrow, obviously now knows how widely loved Phoebe and company have been for almost 30 years, but says she wasn’t fully aware of the show’s popularity until his colleague on the series “Seinfeld”, which takes place in New York, became his introduction during the era Must See TV. And do you know who helped her figure it out? Jerry Seinfeld himself, albeit with the most embarrassed complacency.
On the eve of the release of the new horror comedy “Parenting” starring Edie Falco and Parker Posey, Lisa Kudrow talked to The Daily Beast about the upcoming return of her NBC genealogical series “Who Are You?” and, of course, friends approached the topic. When asked if she ever felt a ratings competition between her show and Seinfeld, Kudrow said it wasn’t, and then recounted how cheeky Jerry Seinfeld reacted when she met him when “Friends” started blowing up. According to her:
No. Not at all. Not to mention the writing of “Friends,” or the cast, or how good “Friends” really is, but in the first season, our ratings were just fine. We held on to “Crazy About You” enough and started building, but it was in the summer when we were in reruns after “Seinfeld”, where “Seinfeld” was our introductory part, where we blew up. I remember going to some party and Jerry Seinfeld was there and I said, “Hi,” and he said: “Please.” I said: “Why, thank you… what?” And he said, “You.” Come for us in the summer, please.” And I said, “That’s absolutely right. Thank you.’
To be honest, it’s hard to imagine how Jerry Seinfeld could have handled this exchange in a way that was more in keeping with his Seinfeld persona. (Or, in fact, the characters of most of the characters in this series.) Nothing speaks so pompously as the inability to congratulate someone without loudly blowing your own horn. The stand-up comedian was obviously confident in himself when making his comments, so it is assumed that they were said in a light-hearted joke, and not in something more sincerely vindictive.
Of course, this assumption is as much based on Lisa Kudrow’s seeming lack of residual anger after that party as on anything else, since Jerry Seinfeld really was the king of network television at the time, and his show really had the ability to gather an audience to turn Friends from a “just great” sitcom into into a ruthless force whose actors will earn $1 million per episode. So it doesn’t look like Seinfeld went too far, even if he was more genuinely selfish about his show’s impact on Kudrow.
Lisa Kudrow, whose 59th birthday was recently celebrated by her former “Friends” co-stars, was obviously part of a high-profile reunion, especially for HBO Max, which allowed the ensemble to relive some of their glory days, which not everyone has retained memories of. The special was nominated for various Emmy Awards and other awards, and although there was nothing so special for “Seinfeld” (except for the reunion of the actors for “Curb Your Enthusiasm” a few years ago), fans always have hope.
Having previously spoken out about her son’s less-than-wonderful opinion of “Friends,” Lisa Kudrow is also known (on a smaller scale) for her great work on the HBO series “The Return,” whose critical acclaim has nothing to do with Jerry Seinfeld… we know about. Fans have been clamoring for the pseudo-documentary series to return for years, but Kudrow told the Daily Beast that she hasn’t even asked the network about it at the moment. Maybe one day…
All nine seasons of “Seinfeld” memorably became available to Netflix subscribers in the second half of 2021, when the award-winning comedian used Bryan Cranston’s talents to promote news at that time. Meanwhile, all ten seasons of “Friends” can be broadcast on HBO Max, and in our schedule of TV premieres for 2022, everything that can be seen on the small screen will be for the rest of the year.