Arrested Development: Critical Orientation

The Bluth Family is nothing short of entertaining. Their chaotic lives help make “Arrested Development” a show worth analyzing. The shows follows around Michael Bluth, the son of Lucille and George Bluth who started a housing development business which was at one time successful and now he struggles to keep it floating. Michael works hard to fix all his other family members mistakes while trying to maintain his own sanity.

The most interesting aspect of the show is the endless plot twists and use of comedic irony. For example, the youngest family member Buster, now in his late thirties, struggles to no longer be babied by his controlling mother Lucille and in attempt to be more self-sufficient ends up having his hand bitten off by a loose seal. Perhaps suggesting that he still relies on the hand that feeds him. Ironically, he also attempts to find another woman that can love him and ends up dating an older lady that lives across the hall who is a family friend and is goes by the name “Lucille 2”.

As a viewer you can’t help but pick up on the writer’s ability to tie in reoccurring jokes and themes throughout the episodes. Their ability to drive the plot forward by using these reoccurring aspects is what makes the show worth analyzing. Click here to take a look at all the reoccurring jokes using an interactive guide on  I think by going back and critically analyzing “Arrested Development” I can further uncover the intentions of the writers in using these themes.

Character development is also a largely important aspect of the show’s integrity. The family consists of ten members who all have unique relationships with one another. At all times they all seem to have their own level of turmoil they are individually dealing with yet they gracefully tie into each other’s lives. They somehow always find a way to selfishly sabotage one another and also rely on each other to help get out of it. For example Michael’s brother Oscar always seem to swoop in on his brother’s wife whenever he is in jail which aggravates him but when he is on house arrest and Lucille begins to annoy him he escapes and traps Oscar with her. The show’s ability to intertwine the characters in complicated plot twists adds to its intricacy and value.

I have chosen Season 3 to critically access because it is the final season that was on network television. At the end of the shows life it sat at #123 in the Nielson ratings behind WWE Friday night Smackdown. (

After the shows cancelation it remained dormant for seven years with a large Internet buzz of die hard watchers and large amounts of views on the Netflix online streaming service. Netflix saw this opportunity and revived the show by funding Season 4 and now rumors have begun to surface of Season 5 in the makes. It was even publicly announced recently “Mega-producer Brian Grazer, who has been a part of the show since its first incarnation on Fox, appeared on The Adam Carolla Show today and announced the news on the podcast. (Because unveiling amazing news like this on a podcast is just how things are done these days.) Here’s how Grazer put it.
‘I had a conversation with Fox today – this morning – and Netflix is determined to do more episodes, so we’re gonna do more episodes. The turn of the year – January, February – we’re gonna start it. It’s a lot of juggling of all these stars’ lives…I made the call to Mitch [Hurwitz, show creator] to say everybody’s into it.’” (


The show is filled with witty foreshadowing to future events and references to past roles the actors played prior to the show. For example when George is being investigated for building a housing development in Iraq and his son Michael asks about he says he mistook the man for the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld, when in fact that man had played the “Soup Nazi” a number years ago. (

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It is no doubt that this sitcom is a show worth further investigating. It is layered with complex references that only an educated critic would be able to fully understand. Not only are these moments outrageously humorous but also the writers do an outstanding job of making them relevant to the hundreds of twists that the plot endures. Along with the intricate plot and references they make sure never to let a reoccurring joke die. When the writers realize they have something worth keeping on their drawing board it seemingly shows up season after season. Such as George Michaels crush on his cousin, Maeby, who may or may not be related to. (

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The show even goes so far to reference its own failing ratings and potential cancelation in the show’s script.

“In the premiere for season 2, Michael mentions that the Bluth’s model home contract had been reduced from 22 to 18 homes – a direct reference to how the season’s length had been reduced similarly.

The most obvious come during the episode S.O.B.s, s3e09: Michael says, “The HBO’s (Home Builder’s Organization) not going to want us” referencing that the network HBO doesn’t pick up shows that have been cancelled by another network.

George Bluth then quips, “Well I think it’s Showtime” – a reference to another network that was rumored to be willing to take Arrested Development on.” (

This perhaps did not help the relationship it already had with Fox and could have led to further disagreement.

I think by critically analyzing Season 3 of “Arrested Development” we may be able to understand in more detail how such a well written and produced show with a cult following could not survive on network television. I think that one major reason could be the introduction of “binge watching” via online streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu plus has allowed for viewers to better recall and understand and recognize the amount of reoccurring themes that make the show great. Only further investigation will lead us to the answer!


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