Arrested Development Series Review
Seven years ago Fox made what fans would now describe as “a huge mistake”, canceling Arrested Development the sitcom created by Mitch Hurwitz that followed the wealthy Bluth family, after they lose everything. The show famously ended with the character of Maeby, who had been posing as a Hollywood executive, pitching a television show about her family to Ron Howard (the shows narrator) to which he responds “I don’t see it as a series. Maybe a movie.” Thus beginning seven years of waiting. Until finally it was announced that 15 new episodes of Arrested Development would premiere on Netflix, serving as a sort of prologue to the film.
Each of the 15 new episodes of the series focuses on one character, unlike during the series original run when each episode focused on the entire family. Hurwitz made a brilliant but incredibly risky decision here, knowing that the Bluth’s have been absent from our screens for 7 years, and given the fact that in the final episode of the series original run they all went their separate ways, there would be a lot of background information the audience would need. So what have they been up to for the past 7 years?
A lot has changed since the shows original airing, Arrested Development originally aired from 2003-2006 smack dab in the middle of the Bush administration. It is often forgotten how politically driven Arrested Development was, with several gags including a “Mission Accomplished” banner, and Gobs puppet Franklin wearing a T-shirt that reads “George Bush doesn’t care about black puppets.” Those jokes aside, the main storyline of the series, George Sr.’s arrest which leads to the family losing everything, is itself political. The “minor treason” that George Sr. commits turns out to be the building of mini palaces for Saddam Hussein (remember that guy?) Not only has the political landscape changed but how people watch TV has completely evolved since Arrested Development’s cancellation.
So yes, maybe we all had unreasonably high expectations for the show’s return and put probably a bit too much pressure on our beloved Bluth family. But despite the pressure, season four of Arrested Development proved to be great, even though it took some getting used to. Watching the first episode was euphoric for us die hard fans because we simply could not believe that it was happening. But then after a few episodes in, it got a little weird. Following an individual family member for each episode meant overlap, repetition, and a lot of narration to keep things clear. There are times in the episodes in which the narrator, who in the original run did more sassing than he did narrating, has to actually narrate. Even though at times the narration can become a little boring, it is completely necessary because without it we would have no idea what was going on or where we were.
The fourth season also focuses less on former plot lines, and instead takes the viewer on a different journey. Following Michaels attempts to get signatures from all his family members so that he can produce a movie about their lives, and George Sr. and Lucilles plan to sell a strip of land to the U. S government so that a wall between the U.S and Mexico can be built. The latter mentioned plot line ends with George Michael standing in front of a large crowd at “Cinco de Quatro” and pulling a reverse Berlin wall by saying “Lets put up this wall!”
The Bluths have also changed a lot in the past seven years, Michael doesn’t quite have it together at all anymore, Tobias ends up a registered sex offender, the “activist” Lindsay ends up working for Republicans, Maeby remains in high school desperate for her parents attention, George Michael starts a software company “Fakeblock” and adopts the name “George Maharris”, Buster becomes the U.S Army’s number one drone pilot, Gob becomes a christian magician and marries Ann because she’s funny or something, Lucille is on house arrest, and Geoge Sr. spends most of his time in a sweat lodge.
But even though season four presented diehard fans of the show with a lot of changes (including an entire new format of how the show was presented) the jokes were still brilliant, running gags still continued, and the Bluths were still the Bluths we know and love. Tobias still needs to learn to watch what he says, George Michael is still in love with his cousin Maeby, Buster’s affection for his mother is still going strong, and Ann is still referred to as “Egg”, “Plant” or “Her?” never Ann.
The season ends with George Michael punching his father after he realizes that they have been dating the same girl (Rebel Alley, played by Isla Fischer) which is something we would have never guessed would have happened in 2006 but is an ending that leaves us crying for more. Despite its ups and downs, the fourth season reaffirms that Arrested Development might be the greatest sitcom ever created, with one of the strongest casts ever assembled and that Mitch Hurwitz is in fact still and will forever be, a genius.