The modern world demands your full attention. You’re overworked. Your phone chimes with alerts and messages. E-mails accrue. Social network feeds pile up. You struggle to stay on top of it all, but it keeps coming. After spending eight, nine hours at work and wrestling with inboxes, you want to sink into the couch and idle. You need a break.
In the old days, TV offered a release valve. But TV has changed. There are more great shows than ever before, but they ask a lot of viewers. I’m talking about morally complex dramas. Sprawling period pieces. Hyper-referential comedies. They tax the brain. After a workday that leaves you feeling like an empty husk, TV won’t do you any good.
Jerry Seinfeld is here to help. His new project is a web series called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and it takes breeziness to a whole new level. Each week Jerry and a famous friend have a meandering, unscripted conversation while they go and get coffee in a classic car. It’s vapid. It’s pointless. Even by the loosest definition, it hardly qualifies as a show.
I love it.
At the start of each episode, Jerry calls the guest and asks if they’re free to get a cup of coffee. They always say yes. Even if they’re A-list workaholics like Alec Baldwin or Ricky Gervais, they have time for coffee on zero notice. Already, in the first minute, we know we’ve entered a fictional world.
In real life, scheduling coffee with a friend can take days. Messages go back and forth. The times that work for one don’t work for the other. Eventually you settle on a date, three weeks in the future–as long as nothing comes up.
But this show takes place in a world without obligations. No one mentions anything they have to do later. Not once do they glance at their phones. The cinematography is artful, peppered with shots of the car gleaming in the sunlight and closeups of coffee splashing into mugs. It’s our world, but better.
If there’s a focus, it’s on the conversation between Jerry and his friend. The discussions are funny–of course they’re funny–but what they’re saying isn’t even important. What’s important is that they’re having a fucking blast. They’re cracking up.
This is a show that makes no demands. There’s no plot to follow or themes to contemplate. Flowing through every shot, streaming through every jazzy note of the soundtrack, is a lovely feeling of ease and relaxation. It’s unlike anything else on TV.
In a world of demands and responsibilities, taking a few minutes a week to watch Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is like a miniature vacation. It’s exactly what we need.