You know what really grinds my gears?
Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, comedian Jerry Seinfeld's comic “web” series. Three episodes into its fourth season and so far we've seen a lot of Starbucks and not a lot else. It should be called Comedians In Cars Stopping Off At Starbucks Real Quick. While the show maintains its celebration of Cars and Comedians, it gives coffee the back seat and I'm all steamed up.
Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee once had me buzzing. Sprudge even gave them a Sprudgie Award, can you believe it? I thought, finally, someone gets it. Really gets it. Seinfeld has made a show about something, and that something was coffee. The series follows a pretty rigid formula—Seinfeld introduces a car, picks up a comedian in it, and the two go off somewhere for coffee and conversation. At least that was the idea. It has since devolved into a lot of yadda yadda yadda cut to b-roll of coffee.
Gone are the episodes of destination coffee-bar stops for decent coffee. So far, this season's episodes have Seinfeld and his guests and cameras shoot in old-timey diners. In episode three with comedian legend Robert Klein, the pair visit the Landmark Diner in Ossining, NY but don't even drink Landmark's coffee. As they hem and haw, they drink from their take-out Starbucks cups they got off camera. Outside food and drink? Anything for his Majesty, King Seinfeld.
How much did Starbucks pay for that product placement? Seinfeld's no stranger to this method of monetizing. During the run of NBC's Seinfeld, creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld practically invented non-product-placement product placement. Wikipedia has more:
According to Wikipedia, Seinfeld and co-creators “claim that they were not engaging in a product placement strategy for commercial gain” to which I say pbbbbbbbbbbbbbt.
This is a show about comedians, cars, and coffee, and the show has done a decent job showcasing all manners of the drink (Louis CK had a capsule machine, Patton Oswalt had Handsome). But this season? They've gone too far. Coffee has receded to a far distant third place of importance on a show that shouldn't be giving the beverage short shift.
The show isn't safe from the mire of car enthusiasts, either—the show's Facebook page is riddled with comments about the lack of car talk in the new season. In the season premiere, Seinfeld starts the episode off in a car he doesn't even like. The car is Sarah Jessica Parker's 1976 Ford LTD Country Squire.The two cruise all over lower Manhattan (where they could've popped into any number of fine cafes). The first coffee comes in at the four minute mark, when the two pop into a Starbucks (Parker orders Jerry a small coffee).
They call it “tall” at Starbucks, Sarah Jessica Parker. GET YOUR SIZE RIGHT.
Eventually they find themselves at the Colony Diner in East Meadow. No presence of Starbucks product placement. Instead, plenty of chocolate egg creams, some food, and an in-house coffee.
“You can drink coffee all day?” Parker asks Seinfeld.
“All day,” Seinfeld answers.
“It would give me incredible anxiety.”
“I like the anxiety.”
I LIKE ANXIETY TOO, JERRY. For a split second, between the diner and driving home, our heroes stop off at Francesco's Bakery in Hicksville. It's a very brief moment where no coffee is exchanged, and no time is spent clucking. Cut to a shot of a sprinkle cookie getting wrapped and shoved in a bag, and boom. We know it's Francesco's Bakery because the shop is thanked at the end credits.
In spite of the on-screen time at Starbucks, the company isn't thanked during the filming of the episode…what gives? Who's Seinfeld fooling? Who am I? Jerry, you even Tweeted at us once when we mocked your program's cursory use of coffee B-roll. Now there's barely coffee at all. What's the deal with that?
Zachary Carlsen is the co-founder and editor of Sprudge.com.