When I first saw Arrested Development, I could clearly see the manifest influence of Wes Anderson and The Royal Tenenbaums. I know Mitchell Hurwitz and Jason Bateman have both acknowledged this. Other than Wes’ distinctive visual style and narrative techniques, there were many other odd similarities, I noticed.
- The incredibly bizarre plotlines (including a quasi-incestuous one),
- intricately detailed character backstories told in flashbacks,
- a dysfunctional family,
- the ostracized patriarch,
- a comical look at affluence and its destructive nature
- a totally detached third person voice-over narration
But saying Arrested Development was merely Mitchell Hurwitz’s attempt to simulate a Tenenbaum-esque story for television, is not giving him enough credit for creating this wonderfully hilarious show.
After the end of Seinfeld, most American sitcoms had a recycled feel to it and Arrested Development changed that. A unique post-modern take on the genre, its self-referential and self-reflexive style and technique served as an archetype for just about every single-camera sitcom created since then, from Community to Veep.
Yes, there has been a surplus of sitcoms about dysfunctional families throughout television history. The Addams, the Bunkers, the Bundys, the Wilkersons, the Simpsons, the Griffins, the Belchers and more. But none as outrageously funny as the Bluths. Okay, maybe the Simpsons come close.
What makes this show about a formerly affluent Californian family of maladaptive characters refreshingly different? It’s rich in witty wordplay, long-running gags and funny catchphrases. And the show’s offbeat characters are some of television’s most hilarious and unforgettable ones. Yes, they are inherently selfish and intentionally unidimensional. They are mostly concerned about their own lives and often look to take advantage of situations, regardless of how it may affect others. Yet, they are ingratiating and you soon grow to love them anyway.
Despite its cult following and critical acclaim, it was cancelled by Fox due to low TV ratings. Fox’s decision didn’t completely blow me out of the water, considering its notoriety for cancelling quality shows with loyal fan bases. Along with Profit, Futurama, Firefly and Wonderfalls, Arrested Development soon became yet another victim of premature death due to Fox’s cold-bloodedness.
Thanks to the benevolent folks at Netflix, there was a second coming. Though I personally didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous seasons due to its convoluted plot and format, it still left me wanting more. And guess what? The good folks at Netflix have obliged by commissioning a fifth season expected to premiere the following year.
And while we all eagerly wait for more dysfunction, easter eggs and LOL moments, here’s some incredibly imaginative fanart to get you all excited.