Welcome to Top 5 Fun Friday, a regularly-occurring blog feature where I give you a list of extremely specific pointless shit from my life no one asked for. Why? Because it’s now 2022 and I still find myself BEGGING the internet for fun little diversions to read, so I have to create some of this shit myself. This week’s list…
Top 5 Most Annoying Seinfeld Supporting Characters
The ubiquity of the show Friends is nearly unparalleled, which is probably why I had so many of its exceedingly minor characters right on deck as I wrote about the show a year and a half ago. Seinfeld, for better or worse, often gets compared to Friends and the two are needlessly pitted against each other like some unholy gimmick fight leftover from barstool arguments about the “Must See TV” era of NBC.
I care nothing for these debates because I love both of these shows, and for dramatically different reasons. Also, I read Bill Simmons for like a decade and grew to loathe his unquenchable need to turn everything into a fucking ranking or a winner or whatever.
The reason Seinfeld is our subject today is because I’ve pretty much never had Hulu, and Seinfeld was marooned there for what felt like forever. I simply hadn’t seen it in years, so when it was licensed by Netflix, I dove back in and devoured the series with abandon. There were so many wonderful things I had forgotten – lines I hadn’t thought of in years, weirdo plot machinations, and characters I didn’t remember at first, but whose presence immediately tapped into some long dormant part of my brain.
Seinfeld is, at heart, a show about the expectation and performance of social norms. That means misunderstanding is at the heart of many of its plots. And with misunderstanding frequently comes annoyance. This isn’t to say all that annoyance is bad (Kenny Bania is undeniably annoying and I still find him hilarious), but that some of these things skew too close to my own personal list of irritations to be enjoyable.
So, since I have this fresh on the brain, let’s talk about those minor characters that get under my skin more than any other.
“I’ve still got the pen, Jerry!” And with that sentence, I think to myself, Oh Christ, more of this dickhead. The episodes in Florida, except for when Kramer runs for the condo board, are among my least favorite in Seinfeld’s oeuvre. I suspect it has to do with those episodes reminding me of being a little kid and stuck with my elderly relatives for what felt like ENDLESS stretches. In the one where we meet Jack, Jerry even lampshades the interminable passage of time repeatedly by noting how it won’t FEEL as long as it seems (when you subtract sleep, meals, showers, and just about everything else), which only makes things worse. It’s like when one of my kids is excited about something and they keep asking me how much longer until it happens which makes time slow to an absolutely excruciating crawl.
The thing I despise so much about Jack Klompus is his disingenuousness. He offers Jerry an astronaut pen, which all the other old people rightfully point out Jerry shouldn’t take, Jack insists anyway, and then we get a whole slew of “comedic” machinations about what proper social protocol should follow. In subsequent episodes, Jack haphazardly sends raincoats to Morty thereby ruining them, crashes a Cadillac which somehow leads to him basically swindling Jerry out of tens of thousands of dollars. This guy is a low-rent grifter, and the buffoons in this show somehow all end up at his mercy at one point or another. The thought of having someone like this in my life that I cannot get rid of fills me with more anxiety than a sitcom I watch for enjoyment reasonably should.
Footnote: The guy who plays Jack Klompus (who I could look up, but I’m so annoyed by, I don’t feel like it), also played a key role in Leprechaun 2, a movie I’ve seen more times than I care to admit. He fools the leprechaun in a drinking contest, but dies when the leprechaun magically teleports a pot of gold into his tummy. It is deeply, deeply stupid, and yes, the character he plays in this movie is fucking annoying, too.
Based on this character alone, I loathed Kathy Griffin for a very long time afterward. I don’t particularly feel one way or the other about her now, but my god, she does such an incredible job of being thoroughly obnoxious in her role on Seinfeld, I convinced myself this is how she was all the time in real life.
I suspect my annoyance with Sally Weaver stems from my work history of dealing with professional creatives when I’m on the client side. Sometimes you give super clear instructions of what you’re looking for, and what you get from them is so far afield from what you want, you wonder if you mistakenly sent the directions in another language. You tell them again, and they somehow fuck it up worse in a brand new way! It’s enough to make you grind your molars into chalk dust. Jerry asks her for a barbecue sauce, and she brings him the wrong one on purpose because she didn’t understand the assignment. He asks her for a doll from Susan’s house, and she purposefully brings the wrong one because she editorializes that her choice is “funnier.”
I could downsize her face with a shovel for that, a sentiment Jerry I’m sure shares. She’s a tone deaf, entitled fly in the ointment, and her show about how Jerry’s the devil isn’t even funny. Yes, I know that’s the point. Yes, it still annoys me. No, I don’t care. Also, how perfect is it that she’s Susan’s friend? George somehow never makes a correct choice, and the way the writers always find new ways to twist the knife on him for that incompetence is delightful.
First of all, going headfirst into a parking space when another car is clearly trying to parallel park by going in reverse is dirty pool, and everyone knows it. Mike was clearly in the wrong here, but his recalcitrance about it is infuriating. Also, Jesus Christ, it’s a parking space, you two! This is an example of my least favorite type of Seinfeld episode where everyone’s pettiness overtakes a situation and a day is needlessly ruined.
They’re all coming to Jerry’s to watch a big fight, and they all miss it because everyone is consumed with litigating this penny-ante, horseshit argument between two unlikeable people. Have you ever gotten together in a group to watch a big fight? It’s fun! Way more fun than watching these two jerks tie themselves up in knots justifying their position. I’d rather perform my own dentistry than spend a day doing this.
Secondly, Mike comes back in a later episode as a bookie who can’t pay what he owes to Jerry when Kramer places bets under Jerry’s name. Jerry unintentionally then breaks Mike’s thumbs in the trunk of his car. A) How shitty of a bookie are you when you can’t pay what you owe your bettors? And how awful are your lines if you’re actually overextended AS THE HOUSE? B) Getting your thumbs slammed in a trunk? What are you, a toddler? Man, fuck off, Mike Moffitt. Fuck off forever.
Marla Penny (the virgin)
Let me just get this out of the way first. “The Contest” is probably the first episode of Seinfeld I ever saw, and to this day, I still think it’s one of the greatest sitcom episodes of any show, ever. I was hooked after that. Marla plays an important role in the construction of the plot, and for that, I’m forever grateful.
It’s Marla’s puritanical pearl-clutching over the contest that I find particularly galling, and her repressed disposition that irritates me so deeply. I personally would never participate in a contest like this, but not out of some moral high ground. Quite the opposite actually, if you catch my drift.
Anyway, I’ve dated women like Marla, and when you’re amorous with such a person, the experience feels like getting to the end of a level in Super Mario Bros. and deciding not to make the leap and slide down the flagpole. You just stop and let time expire instead. Then, a few days later, you play that level again, and once again you stop just short of leaping to the flagpole. Repeat until you lose your mind and grow hair on your palms.
This is likely not helped by the fact that Marla is played by Jane Leeves (who was so great on Frasier) who dials up her Britishness to maximum irritation in her two-episode arc. Perhaps I have a bit too high a dose of American rebellion and resentment toward our former overlords across the pond, but in a context where I’m already annoyed (See: Pig, Peppa), a British accent is like salt in an open wound. And hey, you don’t get a Kennedy, you limey tart! He’s one of ours, and he should’ve been Elaine’s!
Until I watched Breaking Bad, I used to despise Bryan Cranston. Between his unfathomably irritating character on Malcolm in the Middle and his turn as Tim Whatley, I just figured the guy was an annoying ass all the time. With the benefit of hindsight and a lot more Cranston performances under my belt, I appreciate what he’s doing even in this series a lot more.
But holy god, Tim Whatley! That guy is an annoying ass! In every episode he’s in, he’s performing a personality quirk I fucking hate. He’s a re-gifter! He’s a dentist who’s likely molesting his patients while they’re under anesthesia! He converts his religion just for the ability to tell jokes with immunity, a move so craven, I hope there is a hell just so Whatley can go there and get told off by both Jews and Catholics! He gives out donations in people’s names instead of giving them Christmas presents. Look, if we’re at a place in our friendship where we’re actually exchanging Christmas gifts, and you made an obviously phony donation in my name to some nonprofit, I’d punch you in your stomach.
He’s someone who’s presumably taken a Hippocratic Oath, yet performs needless and painful dental procedures purely out of spite! On a show filled to the brim with petty, spiteful, awful people, Tim Whatley has got to be the worst. He’s clearly a bad person, and I hate him so much. Give me a… schtickle of fluoride. God, fuck you, you WASP-y asswipe.
This is such a great a show, and I’m just so happy it’s back in my life.