Fresh Prince vs Seinfeld

Now that we’re nearly a decade and a half removed from two of the greatest sitcoms this planet has ever seen, salient attributes from each show stick out more and more the longer they stay into syndication. Such as how underrated Uncle Phil is or how horrible the first season and half of Seinfeld was. Some of these features over the years are adding up to chip away at the mystique of Seinfeld and help bolster my argument on how I’ve felt for a long time……..Fresh Prince is better than Seinfeld. After people get over the shock value of my statement I ask them to riddle me this:

Which one was more consistent?

Which one was more versatile?                                                                                                                                

Which one had a better cast? (Highly debatable)

Which one is more re-watchable? (Now that we know that Michael Richards openly routes for Kiefer Sutherland’s character in “A Time to Kill”.

Consistency is a foregone conclusion; Fresh Prince hit the ground running and didn’t look back. Even the usual kiss of death in sitcoms where a new character is added couldn’t hinder the Fresh Prince Locomotive. They added baby Nicky in the later seasons and kept on churning out classics. Married with Children exemplifies more of the norm, they added that new kid seven, and the show quickly went downhill, or maybe it was going downhill before that which prompted the desire to add a new character…….it’s a little fuzzy right now. Seinfeld on the other hand……..not so much. That show was on the brink of cancellation in the first season and was green lit for another year because of the lovely circle of friendships that Larry David created within the industry. Demerit points are also taken away for the tragic Seinfeld final episode. EPIC FAILURE!! Totally undermined much of that great season with such a clunker of an ending and this needs to be factored in when comparing the Titans.

Versatility is another no brainer, Fresh Prince made you run the gamut of emotions. Laughter when Carlton and Will were trapped in an apartment with Mad Dog. Poignancy when Will’s dad came back into his life. Awareness, during Vivian’s black empowerment teachings. Seinfeld tackling anything even remotely serious makes me cringe at the very thought. Also I’m going to throw in the bloopers as a versatile trait……….no sitcom will ever have a better blooper reel than Fresh Prince. Carlton’s off the cuff improv when he thought Will killed Lisa at the cabinet was absolute genius. And Will’s “dum dum de dey” remark that almost gave Hilary an aneurysm.

Saying that Fresh Prince had a better cast is almost blasphemes, David Puddy’s character alone should swing the pendulum towards Seinfeld but hear me out. Larry David has shown how interchangeable some of those characters were with the rise of Curb your Enthusiasm, aka, “Adult Seinfeld”.  Can that happen with Fresh Prince? Could there ever be another Carlton Banks? Larry David has been playing George Costanza for the past decade and he hasn’t lost a beat. So for my final edict, I’m going to create a sitcom fantasy lineup to see how they stack up:

Will Smith vs George Costanza – Will wins this hands down, more funny, more charisma, better acting, higher degree of difficulty seeing how Hip-Hop wasn’t quite mainstream yet, and finding a universal audience for that character is way harder than George Costanza pandering to an audience that finds Vandelay industries as groundbreaking material.

Uncle Phil vs Jerry Seinfeld -Both play the straight men surrounded by a world of chaos, Comedic edge is slightly in Seinfeld’s corner but Uncle Phil more than makes up for that with better acting and more versatility. He’s also vastly underrated in the comedic department, especially when he started coming out of his initial role as a pretentious wasp. (I think pretentious and wasp is redundant, I should have just deleted that right?) The episode where Will and himself are battling it out in court and telling their sides of that infamous pool party was his coming out party.

Hilary Banks vs. Elaine Benes – Seinfeld takes this one, Elaine Benes is the greatest female sitcom character of all-time and not even I will take this away from her, although Hilary was better to look at. Got to put the Seinfeld bashing to a brief halt to bask in Elaine’s greatness.

Carlton vs Cosmo Kramer – Carlton in a landslide, even before Mississippi Burning Michael Richards, Carlton has this in the bag. Comedic value through the roof, improv second to none, once again versatility is the underlying theme and he beat his chest loud and clear when Will got shot, or when Uncle Phil was hospitalized with a heart attack.

Last but not least, the passing years have been way kinder to The Fresh Prince of Bel-air. Fashion fads aside…….there is a timeless aspect of Fresh Prince episodes where you feel you can watch it time and time again without getting tired of it. The episode where Will gets trapped in the wilderness with John Witherspoon (pops from Friday) ages like a fine wine. No substitute for an old man calling Will, Wilbur………and lighting fires with hot sauce. Seinfeld in a juxtaposition has a finite shelf life……….George becoming a genius after abstaining from sex and Elaine becoming ostracized for hating the English Patient gets a certain amount of laughs from me before it becomes wash, rinse, and repeat.

So in conclusion, we have been fed through the main-stream media that Seinfeld is the Godfather of sitcoms and we all should have our hats in hand when approaching the all-mighty Oz. No dice, Fresh Prince reigns supreme and anybody who disagrees is just following the mantra of the masses. Fire up the Fresh Prince DVD’s and show me a single episode where you felt that there was a wasted 20 minutes. (Bonus points – Fresh Prince’s theme music has a Pavlovian effect, the minute you hear it, happiness instantly encompasses your body)

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3 Comments »

  1. T Bone Said:

    This shouldn’t be titled Fresh Prince vs Seinfled but rather ‘Why Fresh Prince Is Better Than Seinfeld’.
    Seinfeld was light black comedy so to speak. I think if there were to be a comparison between sitcoms it would have been Fresh Prince and The Cosby Show. Both were culture changing. Both were family oriented. A show like Seinfeld was culture changing, but clearly not in the family category. It that had episodes dealing with menage a trois, penis vs the brain chess match, the sponge, the ‘their real, and their spectacular’, George getting his erections back after eating mangos, and Kramer and Jerry getting vasectomies are just a few examples why the shows were on different comedic levels.

    Seinfled was never to be taken seriously. Even when they had the episode where Georges’ fiance Susan dies, they found a way to make it funny by turning the focus to the care free reactions of the cast.

    Fresh Prince had a a far better series ending episode as it wrapped up the show perfectly.
    Seinfleds last episode appears to have been shot on the fly. It was a free for all. My feeling for this episode was summed up by Georges’ mother Estelle’s reaction to hearing the guilty verdict.

    Most of your character comparisons are cool. Though saying Jason Alexander is a lesser actor than Will Smith is blasphemous. Jason played a character in George. I don’t know how Jason is in real life, but I would assume he is different from Larry David (whom George is based on).
    Will Smith from West Philly just played Will Smith from West Philly. He is a fine actor, he has the package: Charm, humour, looks, extremely marketable to a mass audience. But overall, he still played himself on Fresh Prince just like in some films (Independence Day, Men In Black, and Wild Wild West to name a few). Only difference in the character were the costumes. Will did not take on a character. When he does( 7 Pounds, The Pursuit of Happiness), he is an elite actor, but were not on that.

    I relate to Fresh Prince because of the culture, the range of topics within it, family issues. Love it. Dum Dum de dey still makes me ball out, and Will’s scream before he laughs kills me every time.
    Put it this way. Will is like the Derrick Rose of the show. He has a great cast in the Bulls, but overall, it runs on him.
    Seinfeld is like Tom Brady of the Patriots. He is good, but his cast (like Brady’s three championship defences) made his legacy.
    What separates the shows is that Seinfled will not veer off the comedy course which Fresh Prince tends to do with their more serious episodes.
    Love both shows but when I need a laugh, Seinfled is my first choice.

  2. romey33 Said:

    Whoa what part of Will was marketable to a mass audience? I know hindsight is 20/20 but having a sitcom based on a Rap Artist in 1990 was unheard of. Will played himself for the most part but his role had way more improv involved, and a lot… of heft when he needed it. The episode where his dad came back is all you need, this argument is moot. Jason Alexander had an amazing character layed out for him, and rediculous writing, all he had to do was show up and memorize lines. There has never been a George moment where I sat up and said “wow…..only a select few could pull that off”, especially after Larry David’s little run on Curb. People get good acting and good writing mixed up all the time, this falls under the ladder. Seinfeld is a valid comparison because it’s called the greatest sitcom of all-time……..Fresh Prince is a sitcom, therefor I shall compare the two. Seinfeld doesn’t get a pass because it wasn’t family oriented, nor does it get one for never being serious…….the degree of difficulty in writing a sitcom that can toggle back and forth between serious and funny is way harder than anything Seinfeld can dream of. It never veered of course because it couldn’t, Kramer could never pull of a sentimental moment and you shouldn’t be rewarded for that.

    • wolf Said:

      When watching a sitcom, most people just want to laugh. The last thing someone should want from a comedy is preachiness about whats supposed to be important in life. The fact that kramer could never pull off a sentimental moment is to the shows credit. I suspect that half the reason you claim to prefer prince is cause its black.


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