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The Seinfeld Star Who Didn't Think The Show Would Work

Few shows in history can match the enduring legacy of NBC's game-changing sitcom "Seinfeld." In fact, during its primetime peak in the 1990s, the network's famed "show about nothing" was not only a legit ratings sensation but also a regular fixture in the perpetually shifting pop culture landscape. And yes, "Seinfeld" (which was created by comedy legends Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David) remains as popular today as it was in the '90s, with the show continuing to make waves in syndication, and particularly in the streaming realm.

As for the show's almost unfathomable staying power, it's never been easy to determine precisely why "Seinfeld" struck a chord with viewers. It's even less clear more than two decades after its finale aired. But it's clear that the combination of crack writing and a uniquely irreverent narrative approach helped it to success. The same goes for its first-rate cast, of course. And perhaps more than any single element, the singular contributions of stars Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards are the reason "Seinfeld" worked so effectively.

However, it turns out that at least one of those core "Seinfeld" cast members did not believe the show would work prior to its network debut. 

Jason Alexander actually bet against the show's success after shooting the pilot episode

The "Seinfeld" star who believed the show would likely fail is Jason Alexander, who portrayed the utterly unlikable, but oddly relatable George Costanza for the entirety of the show's NBC tenure. The actor admitted he didn't have much faith in "Seinfeld" during a 2014 interview with Larry King, who asked directly whether Alexander thought the show would work when he joined the cast. Alexander bluntly responded, "No." So certain was the actor that "Seinfeld" would fail, he apparently even bet against it after shooting the pilot, "In fact, I made a gentleman's bet with Jerry [Seinfeld] after we did the pilot that it would not work," he claimed.

As for why he thought "Seinfeld" wouldn't play, it wasn't because he thought it wasn't funny. Rather, Alexander believed the audience for such fare was far too niche. "I said, 'the audience for this show is me, and I don't watch TV,'" he told King. 

Alexander was initially correct, noting "Seinfeld" struggled to find a broad audience in its early seasons. He added, however, that "Seinfeld" proved quite popular among young adult males between the ages of 21 and 32. That turned out to be a coveted demographic for network bosses, of course, with Alexander pointing out the show never struggled for sponsorship.

Continuing the conversation, Alexander stated that ratings began to improve in Season 3 when NBC slotted "Seinfeld" into a posh time slot right behind the landmark comedy "Cheers." He added that the series' ratings absolutely skyrocketed after the airing of the infamous episode "The Contest." And the rest, as they say, is history.