During its run on NBC from 1989 to 1998, Seinfeld told the stories of Jerry, Elaine, George, Kramer, and others through true-to-life experiences in New York City. As "a show about nothing," the comedy was a smashing success with viewers, esteemed as one of the best sitcoms in the history of television.
However, Seinfeld definitely had something going on when the cameras were off — and sometimes even when the cameras were on. Seinfeld fan theories abound when it comes to things like on-screen relationships, but the relationships off-screen could be just as tumultuous and dramatic at times. The entire cast of Seinfeld didn't always get along, sometimes to the point of writing characters off the show so that others wouldn't have to deal with them. There were also the fair share of cat fights, tears, lawsuits, temper tantrums, and other things that tend to plague popular television shows, including a long-running feud with Roseanne, proving every successful show has its dark secrets — even the comedies — and Seinfeld is no exception.
There was very little love between the cast of Seinfeld and the cast of Rosanne, which ran from 1988-1997. On one occasion when Julia Louis-Dreyfus accidentally parked in Tom Arnold's parking spot — the two shows filmed at the same studio — she found a note from Arnold that read "How stupid are you? Move your f*cking car, you assh*le!”
Upset, Louis-Dreyfus told Larry David and Jason Alexander about what had happened and they confronted Arnold. He admitted writing the note but said he wasn't mad and considered the issue closed.
His wife, Rosanne Barr, however, did not. Barr called Louis-Dreyfus a "b*tch" on Late Night With David Letterman, left a picture of someone's butt, and wrote the word "c*nt" in soap on her windshield, and faxed a letter to a Variety columnist that said, "The combination of arrogance and ignorance is quite ordinary in this town, but Julia takes the cake."
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was pregnant twice during the run of Seinfeld. Her first son, Henry, was born in 1992, and her second son, Charles, arrived in 1997. She hid her first pregnancy with pillows, well-placed props, and other strategic set feng shui but when she was four months pregnant with Charles, Jerry Seinfeld proposed another way of working with the pregnancy: "I have an idea for how to play this out. What if Elaine gets fat?"
Louis-Dreyfus cried in response. She said later that it may have been a workable storyline and even expressed regret about turning it down, recalling that she
Burst into tears. Automatic. It was like a death sentence. So there are two things I have to say about that. One is you have no interpersonal communication skills. The second thing is, it was a great idea and we should have done it. It would have been a great storyline… I regret it.
George's fiance on Seinfeld, Susan, was played by actress Heidi Swedberg. In an interview Jason Alexander gave to Howard Stern in 2015, the actor retold the story of how Susan's death came to be written. Alexander had a difficult time getting his comedic timing to sync with Swedberg's style, and complained about it. She was, according to Alexander, "'f*cking impossible' to work with."
It wasn't until Seinfeld and Louis-Dreyfus experienced the same type of struggle when playing opposite Swedberg that the cast got together with writer Larry David to try to find a solution to the problem. According to Alexander, "Julia actually said, ‘Don’t you want to just kill her?’ And Larry [David, the series’ co-creator] went, ‘Kabang! Now we gotta kill her!’"
Bring on the deadly envelopes. In the show, George buys cheap wedding envelopes that turn out to be poisoned — and Susan licks them, sealing her fate.
Alexander has since apologized to Swedberg, clarifying that no one wanted to kill her; it wasn't entirely her fault; and she was a "kind, lovely person who undoubtedly worked really hard to create Susan." He also emphasized that the relationship was never going to work between George and Susan so the comment about "killing her" merely gave an end to a doomed engagement.
Near the end of Seinfeld's run, NBC aired an episode that received a great deal of backlash from viewers. In the episode, Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer are driving back from a Mets game when they get stuck in traffic caused by Puerto Rican Day celebrations. According to the NY Times:
At one point, Kramer tossed a sparkler and accidentally lighted a Puerto Rican flag on fire. He tried putting out the burning flag by stomping on it. Angry parade-goers then began chasing Kramer. When they lost him, the mob began shaking Jerry's empty car and threw it down a stairwell. Kramer remarked that "It's like this every day in Puerto Rico."
The scene was an "unconscionable insult" to Puerto Ricans, said the president of the National Puerto Rican Coalition, Manuel Mirabal."