If the 90′s belonged to Seinfeld, then I’d wager a bet that the 00′s belonged to Arrested Development. It’s a smart, funny, yet entirely stupid sitcom that ran for a paltry 3 seasons – which – given both the huge cult following of the show along with the longevity of much worse programming (Malcom In The Middle, I’m looking at you), makes other sitcoms pale in comparison. Perhaps it’s poetic justice that it was only around for three years; you wouldn’t want to see a great show like this get old and tired.
The show centered around the wealthy Bluth family, who at the start of Season One find that the head of the family – George Bluth Sr., played brilliantly by Jeffrey Tambor – has been sent to jail for fraud. All of their assets are now frozen and they must get real jobs. Given the current economic climate, it makes a ton of sense that the show is more popular NOW than it was while it aired. During the three years it was on the air, the show was in a constant battle to keep itself on the air, due to low ratings – even though it did enjoy wildly positive critical praise.
So how does a show that ran for such a short period of time make such a huge mark? Simple. The show did not undersell its audience (I hate to say it, but King Of Queens reeked of underselling its audience) or oversell its audience (like 80% of Frasier). It didn’t use a laugh track (That 70′s Show), nor did it try to come off as a precious commodity (Pushing Daisies, which shares a similar off-the-cuff vibe, but seemed to be entirely too self aware of it). It was simply a very well written show with some great, great comedic actors that didn’t have to ham it up too much more than what was on the page.
It also bears the mark of a great “springboard” sort of show: practically every actor involved in the show had their careers bolstered by it. For example, Michael Cera, who played George Michael Bluth, the grandson of the wealthy patriarch, went on to star in Superbad and is now a viable commodity at the box office thanks to a seemingly Midas-esque choice in roles. Jason Bateman, arguably the shows moral compass and center of most of the action, went on to have a second renaissance in his career and co-starred in last summer’s blockbuster Hancock opposite Will Smith and Charlize Theron. Portia DeRossi married Ellen DeGeneres. So it goes. And that’s just three of the characters. David Cross before the show was a well admired and very edgy comedian, but hardly a bankable actor by any means. After the show he’s gone on to be somewhat of a highly credible character actor, appearing not just in Michel Gondry’s fucking brilliant art house classic Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, but in a score of big budget Hollywood movies as well.
Frankly, it’s just one of those shows that “you had to be there” for. The show is available on DVD and lives on in endless quotes and puns told at bars, parties, and dates. If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know what you’re missing. And if you have seen it, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
There’s a movie in the works, set to come out in 2010 that will wrap up the loose ends brought about by the shows cancellation. Until then, we salute you, Arrested Development. You’re easily one of the best comedies in the last ten years and well worth a viewing marathon if you haven’t had a chance yet.