Interchangeable Diegeses: The Merv Griffin Shows
D. Harlan Wilson
In the 162nd episode of Seinfeld, “The Merv Griffin Show” (1997), Kramer salvages an abandoned set of The Merv Griffin Show (1962-86) from the trash, reconstructs it in his apartment, and starts to behave as if his everyday life is a talk show. He wears a cheap suit at all times. He uses note cards. He plays music when friends/”guests” enter his apartment. He pauses for commercial breaks. He adopts a sidekick (Newman). At first his friends/”guests” are bemused, glancing around the apartment for cameras and an audience, but they quickly get used to it, and soon they forget (or at least ignore) that they are part of Kramer’s diegetic talk show. The irony, of course, is that there are cameras and an audience—those of the Seinfeld show, which the actors, by default, “forget” (or at least ignore). In essence, then, the set of Kramer’s talk show functions as a surrogate for the set of Seinfeld’s sitcom, calling attention to the fabricated social machinery of the sitcom, and by extension, calling attention to the fabricated social machinery of the “real” world that the sitcom extrapolates. Thus the talk show, the sitcom, and the “real” world become interchangeable parts. This is the diegesis of the postcapitalist world.
D. Harlan Wison runs with daikaiju. See D. run at www.dharlanwilson.com.