New Series on SNT: DeFaced!

20 11 2011

We at SNT are very pleased to introduce a brand new series of posts:

by Michael Stahl

           You’ll never be the same

We’re definite fans of Mike’s reality-twisting wit and perceptivity, and of course the fact that he knows very well how to roll with both the profane and profound! We’re really psyched to welcome him to the SUGAR -N- THUNDER family with this, his inaugural post, that offers a new take on one of America’s best loved sitcoms: Seinfeld!

DeFaced will feature Mike’s counter-critical approach applied to, not just film and television, but, in the spirit of SNT’s all-inclusive wingspan of topics, “anything and everything” that comes to either his drunken or sober mind.

Welcome, Mike!


A Blessay* by Michael Stahl

To begin simply, Seinfeld is one of the best television shows of all time, regardless of genre.  And it would be hard to argue against anyone who ranks it at the very top of such a list.  The innumerable Seinfeldisms have been well-documented: “double-dipping,” “re-gifting,” “close-talker,” and so on and so forth.  Multiple networks still constantly air reruns, and we’re grateful for that because it’s still better than anything else on (Can it be over 13 years since the last new episode?).  This brand of success is attributed to the very plain fact that bazillions of people can relate to the content, just like any form of entertainment that garners such mass appeal, coinciding with overwhelming critical applause.  I present to you a new way to quantify that show’s ability to attract such a dynamic audience with the use of New York Magazine’s “Approval Matrix.”

I’d guess that anybody who picks up a hard copy of New York Magazine, and is familiar with its typical layout, will inevitably make a concerted effort to peruse the final page.  The Approval Matrix is the staff’s way of creating a “deliberately oversimplified guide to who falls where on [their] taste hierarchies” and is divided into quadrants rating what is despicable vs. brilliant vs. highbrow vs. lowbrow in all that is that edition’s week in pop culture.  Should a (drunken?) person view The Approval Matrix as a dartboard, Seinfeld, the series as a whole, scores a bull’s-eye.

What all-time great sitcoms are in the discussion with Seinfeld?  The Simpsons?  With only winks at highbrow humor (Mayor Quimby appearances, Lisa’s storylines), The Simpsons relies most often on lowbrow/despicable humor.  The Cosby Show was a huge hit in the 1980s.  Focusing on an upper-middle class, highly-functional African American family, the series was very funny, even wry, and can only be considered highbrow and brilliant.  All in the Family‘s (1968-79) reputation was founded upon its lowbrow, newly-shocking, and bigoted main character.  I Love Lucy?  The Honeymooners?  It’s hard to compare those shows with anything as contemporary as Seinfeld and The Simpsons because, considering the era in which they aired, those creative energies could never have flowed towards anything as lowbrow as what has been looked to for laughs in recent years.

The Contest – Lowbrow/Despicable

The Chinese Restaurant – Highbrow/Brilliant

Seinfeld contrasts with all of them, and any other, because the series possesses individual episodes that can be sprayed across the entire Approval Matrix.  “The Chinese Restaurant” is considered one of their early classics, the quintessential episode “about nothing.”  Highbrow and Brilliant.  “The Finale,” when the gang are sentenced to prison for breaking the “Good Samaritan law,” pokes fun at legislation and the judicial system, but the inciting incident finds them guffawing at a fat guy.  Highbrow and Despicable.  “The Soup Nazi” must be in the Lowbrow hemisphere.  With the term “Nazi” bouncing around like a mid-rally squash ball, one might be inclined to label that episode Despicable.  But with Elaine enacting revenge upon the unsympathetic title character, a deviation to the right is required.  Lowbrow and Brilliant.  Few things ever witnessed are as Lowbrow and Despicable as “The Contest.”  In so many ways it’s Brilliant, but, towards the episode’s conclusion, Marla points out that she doesn’t want “anything to do with” Elaine, Jerry, or their “perverted friends.”  Few beings can recognize corruption like a virgin.  “The Opera“- Highbrow/Brilliant; “The Junior Mint“- Highbrow/Despicable; “The Smelly Car“- Lowbrow/Brilliant; “The Bubble Boy“- Lowbrow/Despicable.  (Keep it going in the comments section!)

The Junior Mint – Highbrow/Despicable

The Smelly Car – Lowbrow/Brilliant

With all that said, Seinfeld, the complete series, is then none of these designations.  It falls right in the middle of New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix, some unknown land of limitless advertising revenue possibilities.

Check out these other “Seinfeld” videos for reference and a good time:

“The Bubble Boy” –

“The Opera” –

“The Finale” –

“The Soup Nazi” –

Beginning to make his rounds on Internet blogs, Michael Stahl is on a mission to alter your perception of stuff. Be it the world of entertainment, sports, culture, or society as a whole, read him only with an open mind, or harm yourself trying. Check out his film and television “counter-criticism” blog Walter Peck Was Just Doing His Job. With whatever energy you have left, consume his interviews for, STAHLing for Time. He has marked his territory on and now is proud to leave an imprint upon

*And just in case you were wondering: “Blessay” is a term coined by Mike to describe his work, a combination of a “blog post” and an “essay.” Clever, non? We think so. … NOW YOU KNOW!




3 responses

25 11 2011

Welcome, Mike. Good reading. Thanks.

28 11 2012
“Seinfeld” Scores a Bull’s-Eye |

[…]  Read the full blessay on Sugar-N-Thunder  […]

16 05 2013
that Guy

Great blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?
I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused .. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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