Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Arrested Development

by | July 31, 2014 | Comments

Arrested Development was doing that whole ‘get cancelled by a network and then come back on Netflix’ thing before it was cool. And if you have no idea what’s hidden in the banana stand, how to pronounce “Gob,” why a loose seal is dangerous, or what an analrapist does for a living, then you’re long overdue to binge Arrested Development, “the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.”

Arrested Development

Arrested Development

What’s the premise? After patriarch George Bluth goes to jail for fraud, his adult son Michael moves the Bluth clan into a model home on a construction site, hoping to salvage the family business and keep the peace among his ne’er-do-well relatives.

What’s it like? Think Dynasty meets Family Guy. With rapid-fire jokes (you might need to watch this show a couple times to catch them all), funny flashbacks, dirty entendres, and absurdly dysfunctional characters, Arrested Development‘s multi-generational meta-sitcom pokes fun at everything — especially itself. Executive producer Ron Howard performs double duty as the show’s all-knowing narrator, giving the show a folksy, yarn-spinning feel a la The Wonder Years, simultaneously calling attention to how much Arrested Development is not Happy Days. The dichotomy of children acting like adults and adults acting like children echoes the dynamic of Lisa and Homer Simpson, while the complexity of the plot evokes some of Larry David’s most satisfying episodes of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Where can I see it? All four seasons are available on Amazon Instant Video, Vudu and iTunes, Netflix, and DVD as well.

How long will it take? Arrested Development is four seasons for a total of 68 episodes. In true sitcom style, each installment of the show runs 22 minutes, making your binge about 25 hours. You could do that all at once, right? If not, try watching four a day to be done in under three weeks.

What do the critics think? Arrested Development is one of those shows that people love to recommend to their friends — including the critics. During season one, Charlie Brooker of The Guardian wrote, “It’s so good I’m going to shut up about it now — just make sure you tune in and get hooked.” Jesse Hassenger of PopMatters echoed this sentiment in season two, saying “Writing — nay, thinking — about Arrested fosters in me two unproductive urges: to describe how hilarious the show is, and to beg people to watch it.” Even season four, which came to Netflix long after the spell of Arrested Development had lifted, is Certified Fresh at 78 percent on the Tomatometer. AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff wrote of the Netflix revival, “Though this fourth season is rough in places, it’s also unquestionably an important and ground-breaking piece of TV.”

Why should I watch this? If for no other reason, watch Arrested Development to open your life up to a whole new world of novelty t-shirts. An assault of wordplay, long-running bits, sight gags, and quotable moments, Arrested Development feels like being a part of the world’s greatest inside joke. It’s the show that launched 1,000 gifs, and yet the endearing relationship between Michael (Jason Bateman) and his son George Michael (Michael Cera), keeps Arrested Development grounded in reality. Meanwhile, whether it’s David Cross as the sexually ambiguous Tobias Funke, Portia de Rossi as his self-obsessed wife, Will Arnett as the part-time magician GOB (pronounced like the Biblical “Job”), Tony Hale as the Oedipal and delicate Buster, Alia Shawkat as the wise-beyond-her-years Maeby, or any other member of the ensemble, you’re bound to have a favorite character. And then there’s Liza Minnelli.

What’s my next step? If you enjoy the lightning pace of Arrested Development, you should try HBO’s Veep, which co-stars Tony Hale in a slightly dialed-down version of Buster as Gary, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s “bagman.” Similarly, Tina Fey’s 30 Rock is an unrelenting and hilarious series of gags with broad characters who never break type. Fans of Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) might enjoy her similar character in the FX cartoon Archer, a barrage of running jokes and verbal misdirection. Also, the British/American co-production The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret reunites Will Arnett and David Cross in a little-known cringe comedy. For self-referential TV shows, try Community, Family Guy, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the now-obscure Soap, a soap opera parody which ran from 1977 to 1981.

Are you ready to get in on Arrested Development? Tell us why

For more TV news, visit the Rotten Tomatoes TV Zone.

Tag Cloud

Comic Book dceu mutant Pixar The Arrangement aliens Election Ghostbusters Action Horror crime Animation Rom-Com DGA Creative Arts Emmys DC Universe Apple See It Skip It Trophy Talk zombie Hulu Shudder Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt USA Network romance PaleyFest American Society of Cinematographers CMT Holidays Britbox 007 Mystery Ovation Winter TV Warner Bros. spy thriller Oscars Paramount Network 21st Century Fox 2019 Music Sci-Fi Sundance SDCC technology streaming Captain marvel Cosplay Tomatazos Watching Series Netflix Pirates historical drama BBC America ABC Family zombies Spike Set visit Kids & Family Nat Geo Crackle USA IFC Masterpiece travel Cartoon Network doctor who psycho Musicals FOX Premiere Dates ratings Food Network Box Office WGN supernatural crime drama blaxploitation GIFs Mary poppins dramedy robots Syfy discovery casting Year in Review 20th Century Fox docudrama 2016 GLAAD El Rey 2018 composers Awards Best and Worst hist Countdown ABC cops Disney Channel DC Comics Thanksgiving Biopics Certified Fresh VICE RT History Teen Podcast period drama politics binge Black Mirror San Diego Comic-Con BET Comedy Marathons Sony Pictures comic crossover CNN Spring TV Dark Horse Comics APB GoT Nominations TruTV Reality talk show Calendar sitcom Columbia Pictures The CW Interview political drama thriller miniseries AMC Country cooking Comics on TV green book comiccon what to watch serial killer Shondaland Universal New York Comic Con MTV FX cults TNT Character Guide DirecTV spider-man Western Fox News police drama finale Christmas Walt Disney Pictures Lionsgate Lifetime A&E Video Games Infographic Pop Fantasy DC streaming service SundanceTV Marvel facebook TBS IFC Films Star Trek boxoffice Mindy Kaling TCA TV Land Winners war Summer award winner Acorn TV Photos Super Bowl BBC Sneak Peek Mary Tyler Moore Schedule golden globes CW Seed Musical TV biography Superheroe History Mary Poppins Returns Fall TV Rocky CBS All Access Rock cats based on movie ITV 2017 medical drama ESPN FXX dc Nickelodeon science fiction LGBTQ Epix PBS First Look Brie Larson VH1 Anna Paquin NYCC Martial Arts Superheroes Tumblr cinemax unscripted television Writers Guild of America Reality Competition 45 Quiz Lucasfilm National Geographic transformers MSNBC Opinion Freeform Ellie Kemper justice league X-Men Starz festivals TCM diversity TLC Extras crime thriller Trailer 2015 OWN TIFF adventure harry potter TCA 2017 Toys NBC Chilling Adventures of Sabrina E! anime singing competition CBS Sundance Now Paramount Star Wars sports Esquire Red Carpet MCU jamie lee curtis E3 YouTube Red Showtime Bravo Awards Tour Adult Swim Amazon President 24 frames Grammys HBO Drama Song of Ice and Fire YA vampires Trivia Disney Polls and Games YouTube Premium Comedy Central Emmys Amazon Prime social media Valentine's Day Logo SXSW