It may be that you need a very particular sense of humor to truly enjoy Arrested Development. It had a bit of a hard time finding viewers when it premiered on Fox in 2003, but the Internet (and Netflix) have changed everything for shows with niche audiences. That’s why fans were thrilled when Netflix announced it would be carrying the fourth season in 2013 and it was successful enough that a fifth season has been ordered.
Family comedies are often strong because of their ability to remind us of our own siblings, parents, and crazy uncles. You might have a hard time thinking you’ll fall in love with the Bluth family until you have a few episodes under your belt.
The jokes are lasting, but still include some clear political barbs and satire appropriate for 2003. The persistence of small gags make the show better on multiple viewings. Each episode has a plot that rivals those of Seinfeld – with twists and turns where the decisions of characters multiply to often comically intense situations.
Long List of Guest Stars
Amy Poehler, Henry Winkler, Liza Minnelli, Jeff Garlin, Andy Richter, Ed Begley Jr., Kristen Wiig, Charlize Theron, James Lipton, Scott Baio, Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Carl Weathers, Ed Helms, John Slattery, Max Winkler, Jane Lynch, Richard Simmons, Jack McBrayer, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Bob Odenkirk, Heather Graham, Justine Batemen, Gary Cole, Judge Reinhold, Rob Riggle, Martin Short, Dan Castellaneta, and Conan O’Brien.
Tony Hale as Buster Bluth
Buster Bluth is the epitome of an adult child. His mild mannerisms and hesitation portrayed by Tony Hale are
David Cross as Tobias Fünke
David Cross as Michael Bluth’s brother-in-law is woefully inept, but passionately and continuously pursues his dream of acting. His role as Lindsay’s husband constantly shifts as well leading to a Mr. Show reunion between David Cross and Bob Odenkirk, who plays brief marriage counselor.
Alia Shawkat as Maeby Fünke
Maeby’s story is perhaps one of the most interesting in the series. She functions in the shadows to create her own successes kept secret from her fumbling family members.
Jeffrey Tambor as George Bluth Sr. and Oscar Bluth
Jeffrey Tambor is known for his ability to play characters who are a bit off-the-wall and his experience is diverse. You can catch him in classics like Taxi, Three’s Company, The Ropers, and Hill Street Blues. He portrays George and Oscar Bluth – brothers who are as different as
Will Arnett as George Oscar Bluth (GOB)
He’s the family magician – who doesn’t have one of those? GOB generally comes up with the most outrageous plans in the family. He’s fiercely competitive with his brother Michael. If you have an older brother, GOB will be familiar to you.
Buried within the show, but not too far below the surface, are several references to Peanuts. There’s no reason to ruin it by calling out each one, but be on the look out for phrases, tunes, and props throughout the series. The show has a habit of developing inspiring inside jokes that recur at just the right moments.
Michael Cera as George Michael Bluth
George Michael is the series’ most grounded character even with his difficulty in dealing with his cousin Maeby. When George Michael gets in trouble, it’s often because he’s trying to either be a good son or appear more attractive to his (possibly not genetically related) cousin.
Jessica Walter as Lucille Bluth
Lucille Bluth is as cold as her children are dysfunctional. Her manners are from a different era of upper class excess and we understand more and more of her motivations as the series progresses. Her position as “horrible mother” is established early and best exemplified by her treatment of son Michael in this mid-season episode.
Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth
Michael tries to prove his place as the brains of the family in the finale of season one. Though he thinks his efforts are the most sane of the family, Michael manages to get in just as much trouble as the rest of his family.
It’s a show that requires an understanding of social and political events to fully appreciate. The humor isn’t lost without that perspective, but it’s enhanced for those who pay attention. It’s dysfunction as its best – we aren’t left feeling sad or conflicted. The trouble they get themselves into is so bizarre that only the most outrageous of families could top it. (See Keeping Up with the Kardashians.)