Through the magic of Netflix we’ve stumbled upon many rather amazing TV shows, documentaries, and other such guff.
The one that surprised us the most is cult favourite American quirky comedy Arrested Development.
It first aired in 2003, ran for 3 seasons, got cancelled due to poor ratings despite widespread critical acclaim (and numerous awards), and returned with Netflix for two final seasons.
Why Arrested Development is Brilliant
It’s one of those shows you need to commit to in order to “get”.
We watched the first half of season one 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. And we think this one is up there with the very best American comedies. At its peak, every bit as great as Frasier.
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 has to deal with the following:
- His 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.
- Linday’s useless husband Tobias (who’s also clearly gay)
- His remarkable battle axe mother Lucille
- The halfwit brother Buster who Lucille hasn’t allowed to become an adult.
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.
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!