Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is starring in a new CBS series called “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
I’ll save you the usual rigamaroll about sitcom actors breaking out of typecasting and all that jibber-jabber. It’s true that if millions and millions of people come to know you as one character, it’s tough to do something else. This piece in the Times, though, gives me some hope for the new series.
Like everyone else, I loved Seinfeld. Everyone’s got a favorite character, and I was usually on the fence. Some days, George, some Kramer, many days Jerry (really!). In all honesty, I never really considered Elaine. My girlfriend of many years, though, told me one day about Elaine being her favorite, and the last few re-runs I’ve caught, I’ve taken the opportunity to appreciate the character and Louis-Drefuss’ great work.
Women on sitcoms tend to fall into a few broad categories… accessory, ditz, bitch. Elaine was something else entirely. For one thing, among the central characters of Seinfeld, she was the driving force. You put those four in a room together, and while Jerry’s the protagonist, Elaine’s running things. And it’s not through bitchiness, either. The only analogue I can think of to her power in that group is Rosanne, though she obviously struggled with Dan.
The piece describes her certain something as “plucky,” but I would call it “gutsy” or perhaps, in less civil company, “ballsy.” She’s fearless in the same way that Lucille Ball is, but she isn’t a clown or a fool. She’s very physical, but in kind of an odd way (think of that terrible dance). She’s very smart, but she often makes odd decisions that sink her.
The new series is from one of the creators of “Will & Grace,” which was at it’s peak a witty and well-crafted show. She says that she’s trying to bring out Louis-Drefuss’ softer side, and we’ll see how it comes out. Hopefully she won’t lose her, uhm, balls.