“I lie every second of the day. My whole life is a sham.”
“I invented ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’ Nobody tells me it’s them, not me. If it’s anybody, it’s me!”
“Yeah, I’m a great quitter. It’s one of the few things I do well. I come from a long line of quitters…I was raised to give up.”
“I feel like my old self again. Neurotic, paranoid, totally inadequate, completely insecure. It’s a pleasure.”
George Costanza’s misery knows no bounds. He is a savant of self-loathing, a loser of epic proportions, a man committed to drowning his shame in drapes of velvet. Every Seinfeld fan can’t help but shudder at the depths of his emptiness.
Knowing this about George, it should be clear that trying to profit from his brand of misanthropy by turning it into a themed-bar is a pretty horrible idea. But apparently, some enterprising Aussies thought they were up to the challenge. Just ask Phylisa Wisdom, a Munchies contributor who recently wrote a piece titled “I Worshipped ‘Seinfeld’ at a George Costanza-Themed Bar,” which hailed the watering hole known as George’s Bar as “a beacon for Seinfeld lovers and ironic 90s decor.”
Full disclosure: I have never been to this bar in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy. But in the spirit of George Costanza, I’m going to judge it from a distance with all my might. Because instead of worshipping it at the altar, we should call it out for what it is: a false idol that pretends to honor the greatest sitcom of all-time, Seinfeld.
From a fan’s POV, it’s hard to know where to channel your anger—at the writer, for validating this kitsch? The bar owners, for their misguided muse? The nation of Australia, for even allowing any of this in the first place?
According to Wisdom’s piece, Australia’s cultural disposition is enough to validate its Seinfeld ties.
Those bonafides extend to Fitzroy too—“the cultural heart of Melbourne’s eclectic food and beverage scene,” which has a tradition of transforming “cultural heroes and themes” into bars and restaurants. (Peep the Biggie Smalls kebab shop that serves flaxseed falafel.)
Understandably, this habit of cultural bandwagoning gave owners David and Tina Barrett the confidence to open George’s Bar, which they swear was not an “[attempt] to create a bar theme park, but rather loosely craft one as an homage to a beloved schmuck.”
But it’s hard to believe their pure vision with distractions like a Twix-only vending machine, the cocktail list featuring drinks like The Summer of George and Marissa Tomei, and the “CantStandYa” graffiti.
“Because instead of worshipping George’s Bar at the altar, we should call it out for what it is: a false idol that pretends to honor the greatest sitcom of all-time, Seinfeld.”
The writer says the owners were hoping to create an atmosphere that’s “relaxed and reliably a good time”—which, at its very core, is a motto that completely contradicts the essence of George Costanza. Since when could George ever be content? His happiness was as slippery as a bar of soap. When he thought he had it, it was already loosening from his grip.
“Irony” and “the hundreds of quotable moments” are misguided reasons to build a drinking temple based on George. Are George fans really “thrilled by the lo-fi, no-frills establishment”? The only real pleasure Costanza could find was that of his own misery. In his element, he was a liar and schemer, a charming architect or productive Yankees executive outwardly projecting an image he could never truly fulfill. George once said that if he headed a company, “my employees would love me. They’d have huge pictures of me up the walls and in their home, like Lenin.” But George crumbles in the face of pressure. As much as he seeks adoration, real fans know that his system rejects success at all costs—a strange foundation for a business to build itself upon.
At its best, George’s Bar is a fantasy of how Costanza would want his life to play out, with hordes of people “chortling” over toasties, “recalling Art Vandelay moments or George as a hand model.” A part of me wants to buy into this utopian vision. After all, a nod to Seinfeld is usually a win in my book. But as a George purist, the ironic cheeriness massacres his legacy. George is an anti-hero not fit for cutesy moments, and to erect some drinking monument denying that is to skew the sitcom’s message.
When you try to re-write the script, you’re left with moments like this:
George is a liar. This bar as an homage to Seinfeld is a lie. But maybe that’s the sneaky twist to this whole venture—the only way to succeed as a George Costanza bar is to be a failure. It’s like Springtime for Hitler all over again.