Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Wayne Knight Believes Seinfeld's Realistic Depiction Of Characters Contributed To The Show's Success

Inarguably, "Seinfeld" is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. Over the course of its nine-season run, the series racked up numerous award nominations (including many wins) for just about every category, while also staying immensely popular amongst viewers. In fact, the last episode of "Seinfeld," which is also one of the most divisive finales, is notable for its whopping viewership number of 76 million viewers (via Yahoo).

Often considered the "show about nothing," the series, which was created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, follows the mundane everyday lives of somewhat famous stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld (Seinfeld, playing a fictionalized version of himself), as well as his three close friends: the jealous George Costanza (Jason Alexander), the sarcastic Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and the slacker Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards). Alongside the main cast, "Seinfeld" also featured a slew of notable side and supporting characters. One of the most memorable of these side characters is U.S. postal worker Newman, played by Wayne Knight, who is another tenant in Jerry and Kramer's apartment building and also Jerry's nemesis (leading to Jerry's many disdainful greetings of "Hello, Newman"). The character is known for his advanced vocabulary and petty nature, as well as being prone to hysteria. 

All in all, Knight appeared in a total of 44 episodes of "Seinfeld," per IMDb. And for his part, he thinks that the show was so successful because of how the characters were depicted so realistically.

Knight says Seinfeld showed their characters as real people

In 2015, Newman-portrayer Wayne Knight spoke with Vice about the legacy of "Seinfeld," as well as his experience making the beloved sitcom. When asked why he thinks "Seinfeld" has aged as well as it has and maintained its popularity, Knight pointed out the quality of the show's writing for its success. Specifically, he had nothing but praise for how the writers managed to depict the characters in a realistic way throughout the show's run. 

Knight said, "It was a damned good show. And it was also very iconoclastic and bizarre in the sense that it was depicting people, New Yorkers especially, more as they are than as they wish they were." The actor thinks that this differentiates "Seinfeld" from a lot of other TV shows out there that shy away from realism in their writing. "A lot of comedy and a lot of TV is wish fulfillment where you'll see families and hugs and lessons and idealized people," Knight continued. And there was nobody idealized on Seinfeld."

Finally, Knight held nothing back in how he would describe Newman and the other characters of "Seinfeld," but insists it was to the show's benefit. The actor concluded, "They were all venal, selfish, self-absorbed, and crazy. And they were wonderfully recognizable because of that. They were like real people."

Fans of "Seinfeld" would definitely agree that all of the characters are terrible people — and that's why they love the show.

Seinfeld has no answer as to why Jerry hated Newman

While Jerry and Newman both had their bad (or even hateable) qualities to them, the viewers never actually found out why exactly Jerry hated Newman so much, to the point that the two were essentially nemeses. Well, in a February 2014 interview with CBS, Seinfeld finally addressed why Jerry hated Newman — except he had no answer to reveal.

After being asked about the basis of the rivalry, Seinfeld said, "We never explain why I dislike Newman and we're glad that nobody asks, because I don't have an answer. The real answer of why I hated Newman is because it just seemed funny to hate Newman." The comedian-actor then went on to explain that the dynamic comes from the idea of friendship circles, referring to the fact that Newman was a friend of Kramer's in the show.

"You've got your friends that are like you, and then you have that one friend that's really not like you at all and that's what you like about them and they're kind of an outer orbit," Seinfeld added. "And their friend is someone you cannot deal with at all." The comedian concluded by confirming that there was no official reason — it was just fun to hate Newman. And fans would definitely agree that it was a whole lot of fun to watch Jerry hate Newman.