Greetings Masterpiece readers! I am rewatching the entire series of Arrested Development in preparation for the new season airing on Netflix. It’s my intention to write a review for each season as well as a quick series recap before the May 26 premiere. So let’s dive into Season 1 shall we?
“Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together…It’s Arrested Development.” Fans of the show will recognize this as the famous opening to each episode, encompassing the general plot in one mere sentence. The series follows the Bluths, a family that has piggybacked off of the success of its patriarch George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), a model home marketer and developer. George Sr. is arrested in the series premiere for fraud and possible treason. The rising star of the Bluth family/company is Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) whose moral compass and reliability puts him in the position of taking care of his family after his father’s imprisonment and financial decline. Michael’s siblings include his older brother George Oscar Bluth AKA “G.O.B.” (Will Arnett): a delusional magician, his twin sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi): a narcissist always searching for the latest cause and youngest brother Buster (Tony Hale): an infantile 30-something who still is pulling on the apron strings of his mother Lucille (Jessica Walter.) Other family members include Lindsay’s husband Tobias Fünke (David Cross): a psychiatrist-turned-actor with no self-awareness, their daughter Maeby (Alia Shawkat): constantly looking for a reason to rebel and Michael’s son George Michael (Michael Cera): the role that launched Cera’s “awkward skinny guy” career. Got all that?? It’s a family dynamic that is complicated but nevertheless addicting fun to watch.
The first season of Arrested Development aired on Fox from November 2003 – June 2004. It was the “mockumentary before mockmentaries” in America. With its cross-referencing footage and ever-present narration by Ron Howard, Arrested Development offered an experience unlike any other TV comedies of its time, which was mostly made up of sitcoms like Will and Grace and Everybody Loves Raymond. The show’s densely-crafted mythology and history always put it in danger with higher-ups at Fox, but ultimately lead to its current cult following, leading up to its return next month. At the 56th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2004, Arrested Development won five awards out of its seven nominations, including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series.
I’ve rewatched the entire series several times and it honestly never gets old. It’s a fun experience revisiting the pilot episode and seeing the rough edges of characters and plots that series creator Mitch Hurwitz hadn’t ironed out yet. After that however, everything runs at a smooth and effortless-feeling pace. Each character in Arrested Development is immediately ripe for potential and never runs the risk of feeling stale. All of the Bluths are so fundamentally and lovably flawed, even series hero Michael, whose major flaw is that he realizes his hero status and is often blinded by that fact. The first season of Arrested Development invites participation in odd inside jokes right away and maintains the jokes overtly or subtlety all season long. The whole season is just like a wonderfully crafted joke, cracking wise at all sorts of topics: incest, closet homosexuality, family power struggles and class divisions; in an attempt to outline the more absurd views and beliefs in our culture. Season 1 of Arrested Development is near-perfection. I say near-perfection simply because I know that it only gets better. Onto Season 2, see you next time!
Final Grade: ★★★★¾ 4.75/5
Rent it? 100% YES, you moron.