On Saturday, June 27, Joe, Antony, and I went to Milk Studios to see the replica of Seinfeld: The Apartment. Hulu built this installation to promote their acquisition of every Seinfeld episode for their streaming service. The tour was free, except for time spent. We arrived at 1pm to find that the line was not just around the block, but around a second street as well. Security guards managed the lines as people waited patiently. The guards told us that once we entered the apartment, we could stay as long as we wanted. They intended that to be good news, but all it meant was that the 1,000+ people ahead of us could relax on Jerry’s couch for a half-hour while we were stuck outside, in the rain. We hoped that the rain would make some people ahead of us decide it’s not worth it – few did.
Altogether, it took over five hours waiting in line. We took the time outside to re-enact many classic Seinfeld moments. We spoke to an Australian couple, who let us hide under their umbrella in the rain. They said that they had traveled to New York City for three weeks. The primary reason for their trip across the globe was to see Seinfeld’s apartment. Some people might say that’s insane. I’d agree with those people. Around 6pm, we reached the front of the line, right outside of the studio doors. Waiting outside, the guards told us that since they were running low on time and had to close by 7pm, we would only have about four minutes in the apartment.
Once we entered, the guard informed us that it wasn’t just the apartment. To the right, we could also see a Seinfeld museum they’d set up. They had in display cases many props from famous episodes. The Happy Face Oven Mitt from “The Puffy Shirt” episode, The Superman action figure from “The Chronicle,” Puddy’s New Jersey Devils jersey from “The Face Painter,” a bottle of Bosco from “The Secret Code,” a copy of Tropic of Cancer from “The Library,” the Maestro’s bent wand from “The Maestro,” the Frogger machine from “The Frogger,” and the Festivus pole, among others. They also had on display the famous booth from Monk’s café, the other primary location for the sitcom other than Jerry’s apartment.
Once we neared the entrance, we could see that they’d also set up Kramer’s apartment, 5B. Just like on nearly every episode of the show, we cannot see inside Kramer’s place. Fans can just see a red light radiating from below the apartment door. The light is a reference to “The Chicken Roaster” episode.
Outside of Jerry’s apartment, 5A, the security guard gave us a few instructions:
We could touch Jerry’s telephone and his computer, but not his cereals. I’m not sure who was eagerly touching the cereal boxes that they had to make that rule. He then asked if we wanted to “be Kramer,” if wanted to slide into Jerry’s apartment, Kramer-style. Of course we took him up on that offer.
In the apartment, Hulu clearly spent a lot of time getting every detail of the spot. They had a spotless sink and kitchen counter, with cleaning supplies, as Jerry’s neat-freak persona would have. The microwave had two boxes of Junior Mints on top. The magazines scattered on the coffee table, the blue couch, the old-school telephone below the lamp to the right, the Superman figure on a shelf, the green bicycle hung up on the wall in the background, and the ‘90s PC in the corner were all on display. It did feel cooler than I expected to wander in that space, to sit on the couch and stand behind the kitchen counter. They even had baseball frames in the background, including a couple of Jerry’s favorite team – on the show and in real-life – the New York Mets.
Leaving the apartment, the real takeaway was the insanity that so many people would clamor to see a replica of a sitcom apartment, seventeen years after the show ended. The people waiting in the line were of all ages, kids and young adults and elderly. The line was also more diverse than I was expecting – I was expecting around 99% white. It is a testament to how well Seinfeld has aged. I can’t think of another sitcom that would generate this level of excitement, that would cause people to make a 24+-hour flight just to see a replica of one set.
People were taking photographs of themselves in front of a bottle of Bosco like it was the Eiffel Tower. In case it wasn’t clear, it seems like Jerry’s whole Seinfeld show he and Larry David made hasn’t done too bad.
Note: Dan, Antny and Joe took a lot of video during their 5 hour visit to the Seinfeld experience. We stole their video clips and cobbled them together with scotch tape and glue and almost no editing skill whatsoever. Enjoy.