In Praise of Arrested Development

Michael Bluth with his chaotic family in da background.

“In praise of what?!!!?!” you might drawl, but Professional Moron knows what it’s/we’re on about. Through the magic of Netflix we’ve stumbled upon many rather amazing TV shows, documentaries, and other such guff. The one what done and surprised us the most is little known American quirky comedy Arrested Development. It first aired in 2003 (blimey), ran for 3 seasons (by ‘eck), got cancelled due to poor ratings (I say!) despite widespread critical acclaim (rather!) and numerous awards (indeed), and now (thanks to Netflix boosting the show’s popularity) will return at the start of 2013 for a 4th season. Wicked! It’s one of those shows you need to commit to in order to “get”. We watched the first half of season 1 nonplussed and figured it was just some overrated thing from “over there” (we mean America). Then it “clicked” in the way your nose does if you break it with a hammer and then have to reset it. We’ve not looked back since.


The series is about the Bluth family; they have been spoilt dreadfully over the years by their father George’s successful business. When he’s jailed for tax issues they find their wealth going AWOL, and it’s up to eldest son Michael (Jason Bateman, playing the most “normal” family member) to hold the business together. The problem? This is one chaotic family; Michael’s hilarious brother Gob (the bible’s version – pronounced as “Jobe” if you want to get all phonetical) who is a magician and stumbles through life, spoilt Lindsay (Portia de Rossi, who is Ellen DeGeneres’ real life wife don’t you know!) who flaunts her good looks and chronic laziness, her useless husband Tobias (who’s also clearly gay), battle axe mother Lucille, and halfwit brother Buster. Michael has to wrestle the failing business with this lot amongst regular visits to meet his father George in jail (Bluth Snr. takes a real liking to prison), his father’s unstable secretary Kitty disrupts progress, and Gob’s continuously bizarre antics keep everything ticking along nicely.

Dancing like a chicken is hard work.
Dancing like a chicken is hard work.

The scripts are excellent, the acting top notch, the characters (eventually) loveable, and the plots are subtly (and this is the winning formula) buried beneath the characterisation; this lets you focus in on the family rather than the cliched “equilibrium shattered/restored” scenario so many shows run with. In Arrested Development everything’s just all over the shop, yet there’s never really any dramatic plot development (all the series can be viewed as just one big film) and this is the real point of Arrested Development. Humour, quirkiness, great dialogue, originality, Gob, the Bluth family’s chicken dance, Gob’s crass workplace rant about sexual harassment, and Kitty’s obsession with her chest. I can’t guarantee you’ll love it, but at least watch six episodes (they’re 20 minutes long) to see if it clicks in your brain. If not you’re for the worse, you are. Tootles!

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