Face It: Newman Isn't The Real Villain In 'Seinfeld,' Jerry Is
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Webster's Dictio-- sorry, the Villains Wiki defines Newman as "the main antagonist of the TV sitcom Seinfeld," making him sound like the Thanos or the Darkseid of the Tommy Westphall-verse (you know, the snow globe every sitcom character lives in). He's further described as "a scheming, treacherous mailman," and he is, but let's face it: "mailman" is the only word there that doesn't also apply to the show's protagonist.
Jerry Seinfeld's evil deeds in this show dwarf Newman's. It was Jerry who had sex with the woman his best friend was dating ("The Betrayal," Season 9), coldly tried to score with a recently separated friend while she was emotionally vulnerable ("The Wait Out," Season 7), had an affair with his neighbor's girlfriend while he was in a coma after a suicide attempt ("The Suicide," Season 3) ... and let's not even get into the time he dated a 17-year-old (real-life, Season 1993). In fact, the entire Newman/Jerry rivalry is built on the fact that Newman tattled on Jerry when that neighbor woke up from the coma, which was the right thing to do. The very first "Hello, Newman" was said in that snide tone because Jerry resented Newman's moral superiority.
Newman, meanwhile, was a hopeless romantic who showed a depth of emotion Jerry was simply incapable of. Like his nemesis, Newman also fooled around with a married woman, but it was clearly because he was guided by his heart, not his pants. He even rebuffs Elaine's advances after lusting for her for several seasons just because he wants to remain faithful to his unfaithful paramour.
In another episode, Newman selflessly volunteers to help Kramer seduce the woman he sees as his "soul mate," just because he knows what it's like to suffer for love. Jerry couldn't do something like that even if he wanted to because, despite having literally over 70 girlfriends, love is still a foreign concept for him.
Over the course of the series, Newman caused a good number of headaches for Jerry, but they were either accidents (causing a flea infestation in his apartment) or Jerry had them coming anyway (his parents deserved to know their son likely popped a boner during Schindler's List). When asked why his character hated Newman, the real-life Jerry Seinfeld admitted that there isn't a real reason: "It's just fun to hate him."
On the other hand, Newman had plenty of reasons to resent Jerry. It's established in several episodes that Newman had a way with words, yet artistic success eluded him. Watching his jackass neighbor become famous and desired by an endless succession of attractive women due to airplane peanut jokes must have been unbearable to him. It broke him. It might not be a coincidence that Newman's off-screen debut found him at the end of his rope, ready to commit suicide. He was so distraught that the grief actually changed his voice and made him sound like Larry David.
Basically, Seinfeld is a 180-episode long version of The Simpsons' "Homer's Enemy," with Newman as the Frank Grimes to Jerry's Homer. At least this version has a happy ending for the underdog when Jerry's sins catch up to him, just as Newman had foretold:
Too bad he was murdered by an ink-shooting dinosaur shortly after that.
Top image: Sony Pictures Television