Netflix Blurbs, Kael and Seinfeld

Pauline Kael was great at writing New Yorker movie blurbs that made you want to see the movie, or avoid it like the plague. The late Denis Dutton, founder of, was great at writing snippets that would make you want to read often weighty articles.

But the writers of Netflix’s movie blurbs have their own deadpan skills:

  • After her son is caught filming himself masturbating at school, his mother rounds up the whole family to discuss their sexual issues.
  • It all begins at a party, when a seemingly innocent gesture — the offer of a ride home — ends in a night of physical and emotional passion
  • A middle-aged French journalist befriends two prostitutes whose strong personalities cause her to reevaluate her own bourgeois life.
  • Two wildly different women — one a hard-working rebel, the other a devoted mother and wife — share a forbidden romance in apartheid South Africa.
  • When Angela gets pregnant, Javier proposes to her but Javier’s new intern wants more than his guidance …

This last is my favorite, because it could have been Seinfeld dialog (Kramer):

  • An alluring girl, her troubled boyfriend, her mysterious mother and a gruff neighbor collide in tragedy as their secrets lead to a series of events

A series of events?

Here’s a snippet from “The Doodle” Seinfeld episode:

Elaine: Huh . So What’s it about?
Kramer: Well it’s a story about love, deception, greed, lust and…unbridled enthusiasm.
Elaine: unbridled enthusiasm…?
Kramer: Well , that’s what led to Billy Mumphrey’s downfall.
Elaine: Oh! boy.
Kramer: You see Elaine, Billy was a simple country boy. You might say a cockeyed optimist,
who got himself mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue.
Elaine: Oh! my God.