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Why I Am The Only Person In The World Who Isn't Looking Forward To The "Arrested Development" Reunion

By Agent Bedhead | Think Pieces | January 16, 2013 | Comments ()


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If you haven't heard (and if you frequent the internet, it is not really possible), "Arrested Development" is returning to Netflix for a fourth season after a seven-year departure from the airwaves. Two and a half seasons of hilarious bliss were followed by television silence that was occasionally interrupted by Will Arnett making shit up about a feature film whenever he was promoting a 3-D gerbil movie. Do you still miss the show? I do. Even though you and I probably have very little in common otherwise, even the most anti-hipster asshole who is terribly television shy (such as myself) can bond over that wacky Bluth family. Hell, Diablo Cody even once used "Arrested Development" as an example to level the playing field between herself and her haters:

"I may have won 19 awards that you don't feel I earned, but it's neither original nor relevant to slag on Juno. Really. And you're not some bold, singular voice of dissent, You are exactly like everyone else in your zeitgeisty-demo-lifestyle pod. You are even like me. (I, too, loved "Arrested Development"! Aren't we a pretty pair of cultural mavericks?)

Ahhh, yes. "Arrested Development," the great equalizer. Who didn't positively adore this show that managed to be quirky without being overly nauseating at the same time? Even I couldn't resist the lure of clever writing, great stunt casting, and extreme ensemble weirdness (even though I do have a favorite cast member -- Portia De Rossi). Although admittedly, I harbor a very difficult relationship with television. In sharp contrast to The Station Agents, I find myself increasingly resistant to warm up to new programming. But "AD" really got under my skin in a good way.

Here's the thing -- I am insanely afraid of growing attached to television shows because of several bad past experiences in which I became attached to specific programs only to watch them be mercilessly cancelled (some of them with an unanswered cliffhanger, damn it). So even though I have never watched an episode of "Community" (yes, I'm such a cultural dearth, aren't I?), I can certainly empathize with those of you who find that all of your favorite shows will be cancelled. Hey, it's true.

I feel like television "loves you and leaves you" in a way that movies, which hit the screen with a finite, pre-announced viewing duration, will never do. In sharp contrast, television shows can stick around from anywhere between a half season (or less) to a good decade or even longer. You just never know what you're going to get, and the continued existence of a television show is (naturally, and as it should be) dependent upon viewing numbers and advertising dollars. There are many wonderful people (I'm not one of them) who organize their social lives around weekly viewing parties for their favorite shows, but it's just such a risky proposition for me. Like, I remember getting really into "The X-Files" and being so disappointed as the final seasons of the show deteriorated. Yes, even worse than the shows that end too early are the ones who wear out their welcome. At the same time, I've begrudgingly let myself grow attached to a small sampling of shows over the past handful of years. "Justified," "Mad Men," and "Californication" are three of the shows for which I'll admit risking the rejection of their inevitable cancellation.

But should a cancelled show really return? I don't think so. After all, I'd hate for "My So-Called Life" to return only for us to find out that Angela Chase rejected Brian Krakow's season finale confession of a crush, and then he decided to say goodbye to the cruel world. Even worse would be if she actually ended up marrying Brian and living a life of boredom that would be inevitably interrupted by her own personal Hallie Lowenthal. You can't go back and have the same sort of magic. Cancellations happen for a reason, and it's best to just let a show go when that happens.

Perhaps the worst omen about "Arrested Development's return is that the only reason this show is even coming back is because Michael Cera's career finally died after beating itself into a twee ball of twine after Hollywood mistakenly fashioned Cera into the breakout star of the show. Cera was actually the one who quashed any idea of a reunion for years, but now that he's back with stuttering tail between hipster legs, they've made the guy a writer too. What's more -- the show will apparently be quite different than how it was previously organized.

In the new season of "Arrested Development," the characters will not interact with each other on a large scale basis. There will be no more multiple story lines per episode, no more hilariously enlightening flashbacks, and no more deliciously woven chicken-dance extravaganzas wherein characters pop out of the woodwork to add to the absurdity of the scene at hand. Instead, each episode will revolve only around Jason Bateman's central character (Michael Bluth) and one other player. This format is apparently necessary for two reasons: (1) Most of the ensemble actors involved in the series are so busy now that schedules need serious juggling; (2) Producers also feel that this method will eventually lead to a full-length feature film. This leads to the obvious conclusion that all parties involved, both cast and crew, are only participating in this reunion for the dangling dollar involved with a future movie. Can a previously wonderful, seemingly organic show like the original actually prosper under such constrictive conditions? "Arrested Development" cannot flourish in such a way, but sure, you guys go ahead and watch that mess. Get yourselves all reattached, and let your heart be freeze-dried and chewed apart by a rogue seal. Have fun with that.

Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • c

    I'm not excited for it, either. Mainly because I think Arrested Development sucks.

  • Cordy47

    The fact that the show will be structured differently is exactly why I'm excited. It will not be trying to recreate the exact same thing, which is what I would be sad for. These types of challenges are what make creators find interesting solutions as work-arounds (the greatest example being the shark not working in Jaws).

    Those scheduling problems made them think so much harder about how they would do these shows, and as they said, they had to put it together like a giant 7 hour puzzle, which is how they want it to be watched.

    And as others have pointed out, the Cera hold-out was revealed years ago to be a joke, so I can't believe you're writing about AD on this site and don't knwo that.

  • It's possible you've overthought this.

  • John W

    You ain't the only one. To paraphrase Dr Ian Malcom:

    This isn't some show that was obliterated before its time. Arrested Development had its shot, and the TV viewers selected them for cancellation.

  • Rebecca Hachmyer

    Dr. Ian Malcolm always gets an upvote from me.

  • BWeaves

    I tried this show and didn't care for it the first time around. Reunions are only for die-hard fans who need more. The magic is usually gone when the honeymoon is over.

  • dizzylucy

    I have had a tiny hint of worry that it might end up disappointing, couldn't possibly be as good as it was, blah blah blah (bob loblaw).

    But the other 99% of me feels that it's the same people who made such great stuff together the first time, who all liked what was proposed enough to come back and do more, and even if it's not AS good, it will still be pretty damn good.

  • Bert_McGurt

    I'm still excited, despite my fears. For one, the level of talent involved is enormous. I don't see them having difficulty slipping back into their respective roles (some might say Cera never left his...), especially considering how close Jessica Walter's and Tony Hale's current characters are to Lucille and Buster. And if we thought the stunt casting was good back when nobody knew about the show, I can only imagine who they'll pull in now.

    For two, a lot of long-running shows, like the X-Files, tend to go off the rails when they stretch out longer than the showrunner's original plan was to last. Hurwitz is not that kind of showrunner. He's incredibly meticulous, and he's now had YEARS to plan out these episodes and an eventual film. Despite (probably) including a cutoff-wearing pilot of a jetpack, those plans are not going to include flying by the seat of his pants. Especially now that he basically gets to do whatever he wants.

    And thirdly, I think the different format will provide an opportunity to bypass concerns about the show not being "the same as it used to be". I'm expecting familiarity, but also something a little different. More of a successor than a continuation.

    My excitement is still tempered by a bit of worry, sure. Of all the shows I've gotten attached to, this is definitely at the top of the list. Heck, I'm one of the few people who watched it and loved it when they showed the first-runs ON TV. So if it sucks, I'm definitely going to be super-disappointed. But of all the shows in all the land, if any of them were going to make this work, it's going to be Arrested Development.

  • "Why I Am The Only Person In The World Who Isn't Looking Forward To The "Arrested Development" Reunion"

    You are NOT the "only person" - Never saw it; do not care.

  • Mr_Zito

    I'm not that excited, because I agree with most of watch you are saying, but I'm still looking forward to it because it's an amazing cast, and even if it's not the same format, from what I know it will be basically the same people writing and directing, so I don't see why we should be so doubtful of its quality. It's not gonna be the same thing, and we probably shouldn't think of it as a fourth season, but as a new show. I see it as being something similar to the Seinfeld reunion episodes on Curb your enthusiasm, which were amazing. I will be disappointed if Ron Howard isn't narrating, though.

  • dizzylucy

    I think Ron Howard has already confirmed he's narrating again. I agree it wouldn't be the same without that, but luckily it doesn't sound like that will be an issue.

  • Ashley

    While I certainly appreciate your perspective here, I simply disagree that a fourth season, even in this updated non-ensemble format, will be a disaster.

    Hurwitz is an adept showrunner, and it has already been revealed by the actors that those intricate story lines that made the first three seasons such a fantastic display of story-telling will appear in abundance in the new episodes. I have massive amounts of faith in the ability of that creative team, and the devices they'll employ to tell us about today's Bluths. The show was cancelled because of abysmal ratings, and that was well before we became SO comfortable with hulu, netflix, buying shows on itunes, recording, social media, etc. When I think of the shows that have been saved BECAUSE of the aforementioned, I wonder if AD would have met the same fate.

    Maybe I'm wrong, and I very well could be. I've never seen a show come back this way, but I loved AD because of all the stuff it did that I'd never seen before. I think those crazy kids can make this work, with our without a movie.

  • Enrique del Castillo

    I agree with most of this...I doubt they'll recapture whatever it was that made AD my favorite show.

    Also, is it cool to hate Michael Cera again? I never did and I never understood it, but it seems kind of silly to mention that in an otherwise interesting read.

  • I felt like the show wrapped up well at the end of season 3. There wasn't really anywhere else for the show to go and, quite honestly, was close to wearing out its welcome by the end of its run. I'm incredibly cautious about this new season situation ruining my good memories of AD.

  • Cree83

    I just think sitcoms have moved on to a different aesthetic. Shows like Arrested Development, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Curb Your Enthusiasm evolved naturally from the kind of television world Seinfeld created. But now we've decided it's okay to feel again. The "no hugging" rule has been thrown out. The best current sitcoms, like Parks and Recreation and New Girl, have retained a bit of edge but have injected some heart and sweetness into the mix that just feels good. When I watch a show like The League, all crass and nihilistic, it's still funny but it feels a little dated now. I imagine AD might feel that way too.

  • pissant

    the continued existence of a television show is (naturally, and as it should be) dependent upon viewing numbers and advertising dollars

    Thank a deity for that! I so fucking hate it when people try to do things for reasons other than money. "As it should be", indeed.

    This leads to the obvious conclusion that all parties involved, both cast and crew, are only participating in this reunion for the dangling dollar involved with a future movie.

    Damn, you are crushing it on the absolute knowledge today. If there is one thing I think of when I look at the cast of Arrested Development it is "sellouts in it for the money". That goes for the writers, too. The moment I realized that they were making an offbeat show with multi-level jokes (many of which I'm sure I haven't even noticed after multiple viewings) and no laugh-track I could see the dollar signs. All the sordid tabloid stories about infighting, their behavior at public appearances, and the obvious looks on their faces in those episodes make it plain to see that these people did not enjoy working together at all.

  • Steph

    To be fair, most of the actors' post AD roles have been pretty sellout-y.

  • foolsage

    Good Lord. I think you just used up nearly 10% of our national sarcasm reserves for today. Another post like that will leave half of New York unable to communicate until sunset.

    Your points are quite sound though. AD is hardly a cash grab.

  • Yeah. You are so unbelievably correct. Us New Yorkers just can't help being sarcastic,, You are sooooo observant. Are you a comedian? A stand-up comedian? You should be. Cause you're hilarious.

  • messybessy

    Irony thy name is Brian

  • Um, in a panel announcing the reunion, they all confessed that they leaked the "Cera is holding back the project" rumor because they thought it would be funny. Then they all laughed. It was a gag that nobody knew about.

  • Ashley

    Seriously, this is probably my favorite story to come out of AD. "Cera is holding out." "Yeah, that guy is such a diva. It's like, 'sorry we didn't get those ivory mustache combs you wanted for your trailer, but that's no reason to not do the show.' Cera, amirite?!"

  • Agreed. Completely agreed.

    I just think that there's no way they can recapture the magic and weirdness of the original show. It's almost like the original happened by accident; everyone had to be at the right place at the right time and in the perfect frame of mind to make that weirdness work. And now it's been way too long, and the world knows the show too well, and I don't think you can get to that perfect place where everything worked again. I think this happens with almost all sequels and continuations, and I don't think it'll be any different for the show.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Since I've never watched the series (and I don't plan to do that), I don't look forward to it.

  • TheOtherGreg

    Same here. Never seen an episode, and no reference to the show, or clip I've seen, has ever made me want to fix that. (D_Row, I'm not saying it's bad, since I haven't seen it.)

  • Jaime Birren

    I slogged my way through half a season before giving it up (I could see its charm, but it was just too cringey for my personal tastes) but speaking from the realm of another gone-too-soon show, I can understand and agree with you. I loved Firefly; I miss Firefly. But if they tried to do a reunion show now, even the powers of Whedon couldn't make it what it was.

  • ALLLLLLL of this. Yes.

  • You know what? I agree with every single word in this post; I have incredibly well developed 'high hopes' defenses; I have damn strong 'hope' defenses; but god-fucking-damnit, a hex a must be upon my foolish head, because I still see a glimmer of hope on the horizon. It's like [probably quite offensive joke equating my situation to a certain big celebrity's personal life - REDACTED]. Yeah.

  • Finn

    THIS is the Bedhead I have been missing.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I'm not looking forward to it either, but for entirely different reasons: I live with not one, but two people with ADD, and I see very little need to repeat the experience with my television viewing choices.

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