A review by Nalini Haynes
Arrested Development is a US comedy TV series about a wealthy family with entitlement issues. Michael (Jason Bateman), the straight man for the family’s dysfunctional co-dependency issues, has a son, George Michael (Michael Cera), whose fear of failure even affects an eye test. George Michael also has a crush on his cousin Maeybe (Alia Shawkat).
Michael’s twin sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) is a ditsy blonde who only wants what she can’t have, which is the reason she hasn’t divorced Tobias (David Cross). Tobias is a failed psychotherapist whose career and sexual preferences are played for laughs: Tobias is in denial about his homosexual preferences, which are obvious to everyone except himself.
Michael’s older brother, Gob (pronounced Job and played by Will Arnett), rides around on a motorised walker. A danger to himself at times but a danger mostly to others, Gob is a failed magician.
Buster (Tony Hale), Michael’s youngest brother, has mother issues to the point where he has a relationship with Liza Minelli, his mother’s best friend; both Liza and Buster’s mother (Jessica Walter) are called Lucille. It’s unclear whether Buster is supposed to be intellectually challenged or if his mother’s controlling tendencies coupled with abuse and neglect have retarded his social development.
George Bluth Snr (Jeffrey Tambor) is arrested early in the series for business fraud and later for being a traitor: building houses in Iraq for Saddam Hussein. You’d think being sent to jail might affect your screen time in a series like this; not so much, especially with Michael trying to secure daddy’s approval while searching for evidence of the fraud.
Arrested Development‘s greatest strength is the absence of a laugh track (YAY!) and the next greatest strength is spoofing dysfunctional family relationships. AD also flouts political correctness while simultaneously making very pointed social comment. These comedic themes with a disastrous collection of individuals combine to create a fairly unique comedy that is as compelling viewing as a train wreck. I went from ambivalence to repulsion to fascination to ambivalence over and over again, and yet I had to keep watching. Arrested Development has 9.2 stars on IMDB.