Update, June 25: Here’s why you shouldn’t try to pull a Kramer when entering the re-created Seinfeld apartment:
Original story, June 24:
If Seinfeld truly was “a show about nothing,” then most of that nothingness tended to occur in one central location: Jerry’s apartment. Sure, every once in a while the gang went out for Chinese food or got stuck wandering hopelessly through a parking garage. But the glue that held the long-running sitcom together was always the incessant gossiping, chatting, and kvetching that took place back at Jerry’s Upper West Side abode. That back-and-forth banter about the trivialities of life made the show not only iconic, but incredibly intimate, like each viewer sitting at home was part of the conversation.
Now, more than 25 years since the show premiered on NBC, Hulu has meticulously re-created nearly every square inch of Jerry’s apartment, allowing fans to truly step inside the Seinfeld world for the first time. The pop-up installation — open free to the public for just five days (June 24–28 at Milk Studios on 14th Street in Chelsea) — also marks the streaming release of all nine seasons of the series online, an exclusive licensing deal that reportedly cost Hulu a staggering $160 million, or $875,000 per episode.
“We did go after it pretty aggressively because we really wanted it, I’ll put it that way,” Jenny Wall, Hulu’s head of marketing, tells the Voice. “Seinfeld — I mean, I don’t have to tell you — has really shaped pop culture, and it’s amazingly still part of the conversation today. People still watch it every single night, and we know there is a huge audience who wants to relive and re-watch it.”
And re-live it they shall. At “Seinfeld: The Apartment,” fans will be given the opportunity to burst through the door like Cosmo Kramer, to pose for their very own George Costanza photoshoot, or to just hang out in Jerry’s kitchen and talk about, well, nothing. Each and every detail — from the green bike hanging by the bathroom in the back to the prehistoric-looking PC in the corner — was pieced together after studying hours of Seinfeld episodes and consulting with one of the show’s original set designers.
Outside the walls of the apartment, Seinfeld devotees can also peruse a museum of memorabilia: the Festivus pole from season nine; Puddy’s Devils jersey from season six; the Junior Mints from season four; the epochal diner booth, and more. Many of the items were unearthed from storage and donated by Jerry Seinfeld himself, and the result is an experience that takes fans back in time to one of the most iconic television shows ever created.
“Our goal was really to give [fans] the ultimate destination that brings all their favorite pieces and parts of the series together in one place. It was really important that this didn’t just feel like a gallery,” explains Wall. “We wanted to make sure that the fans were able to interact and feel like they were transported back to the set of one of their favorite sitcoms.”
While Wall says she views the installation more as a “celebration” of the show and its admirers than a marketing ploy, sitcom set replicas have become an increasingly popular way to generate buzz around classic TV shows before they see their on-demand debuts. Last summer in Soho, Warner Bros. opened a re-creation of Central Perk, the coffee shop from NBC’s Friends, before the series hit Netflix in January.
“It’s definitely been a trend for a little while, in regards to connecting brands with fans as much as humanly possible,” Wall says. “I think it’s incredible and I think there honestly should be more of this, because there’s so many opportunities where you can actually let people experience these shows in a different way.”
Throughout the run of the exhibition, the occasional Seinfeld side character is expected to drop in for a visit. On Tuesday, during a press preview, the guest of honor was Larry Thomas, the actor who played the show’s infamous “Soup Nazi.” Thomas believes the apartment, along with the series’ now being available on Hulu, will help Seinfeld remain relevant for generations to come. The show, he says, is timeless.
“They did it so well that it’s standing every test of true comedy. You still laugh when you see Moe slap Curly, and you still laugh when you see an episode of Seinfeld,” Thomas says. “There’s just something about it that will never, ever get old.”