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Arrested Development (TV series)

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Title: Arrested Development (TV series)  
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Subject: 30 Rock (season 2), 20th TCA Awards, 8th Golden Satellite Awards, Netflix, Alia Shawkat
Collection: 2000S American Comedy Television Series, 2003 American Television Series Debuts, 2006 American Television Series Endings, 2010S American Comedy Television Series, 2013 American Television Series Debuts, American Television Sitcoms, Arrested Development (Tv Series), English-Language Television Programming, Fox Network Shows, Incest in Television, Metafictional Works, Netflix Original Programming, Nonlinear Narrative Television Series, Orange County, California in Fiction, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series Winners, Reality Television Series Parodies, Single-Camera Television Sitcoms, Television Series About Dysfunctional Families, Television Series by 20Th Century Fox Television, Television Series Revived After Cancellation, Television Series Shot in Los Angeles, California, Television Shows Set in California, Television Shows Set in Los Angeles, California, Television Shows Set in Newport Beach, California
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Arrested Development (TV series)

Arrested Development
The words
Genre Sitcom
Created by Mitchell Hurwitz
Narrated by Ron Howard
Composer(s) David Schwartz
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 68 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 22 minutes (seasons 1–3)
28–37 minutes (season 4)
Production company(s)
Original channel Fox (2003–06)
Netflix (2013–present)
Picture format
Original release November 2, 2003 (2003-11-02) – present

Arrested Development is an American television sitcom created by Mitchell Hurwitz, which originally aired on Fox for three seasons from November 2, 2003 to February 10, 2006. A fourth season of 15 episodes was released on Netflix on May 26, 2013.[1] The show follows the fictitious Bluth family, a formerly wealthy and habitually dysfunctional family. It is presented in a continuous format, incorporating handheld camera work and voice-over narration, as well as occasional archival photos and historical footage. The show also utilizes several long-running "easter egg" jokes throughout each season. Ron Howard serves as an executive producer and the series' uncredited narrator. Set in Newport Beach, California, Arrested Development was filmed primarily in Culver City and Marina del Rey.[2]

Since its debut in 2003, the series has received widespread critical acclaim, six Primetime Emmy Awards, and one Golden Globe Award, and has attracted a cult following, including several fan-based websites.[3] In 2007, Time listed the show among its "All-TIME 100 TV Shows";[4] in 2008, it was ranked 16th on Entertainment Weekly‍‍ '​‍s "New TV Classics" list.[5] In 2011, IGN named Arrested Development the "funniest show of all time".[6] Its humor has been cited as a key influence on later single-camera sitcoms such as 30 Rock, Modern Family, Community, and The Office.[7]

Despite acclaim from critics, Arrested Development received low ratings and viewership on Fox, which canceled the series in 2006. Rumors of an additional season and a feature film persisted until 2011, when Netflix agreed to license new episodes and distribute them exclusively on its video streaming service. These episodes were later released in 2013.[8] Netflix has commissioned a fifth season of Arrested Development, expected to premiere in 2016, and the script of an Arrested Development film has also been in development, with the main cast purported to reprise their original roles in both.[9]


  • Production 1
    • Conception 1.1
    • Casting 1.2
    • Production design 1.3
    • Lawsuit 1.4
    • Cancellation and revival 1.5
      • Future 1.5.1
  • Characters 2
    • Main characters 2.1
    • Recurring characters 2.2
  • Episodes 3
    • Season one (2003–04) 3.1
    • Season two (2004–05) 3.2
    • Season three (2005–06) 3.3
    • Season four (2013) 3.4
  • Reception 4
    • Television ratings 4.1
    • Critical response 4.2
    • Accolades 4.3
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7



Discussion that led to the creation of the series began in the summer of 2002. Ron Howard had the original idea to create a comedy series in the style of handheld cameras and reality television, but with an elaborate, highly comical script resulting from repeated rewritings and rehearsals. Howard met with David Nevins, the President of Imagine Television, Katie O'Connell, a senior vice president, and two writers, including Mitchell Hurwitz. In light of recent corporate accounting scandals, such as Enron and Adelphia, Hurwitz suggested a story about a "riches to rags" family. Howard and Imagine were immediately interested in using this idea, and signed Hurwitz to write the show. The idea was pitched and sold in the fall of 2002. There was a bidding war for the show between Fox and NBC, with the show ultimately selling to Fox as a put pilot with a six-figure penalty.[10]

Over the next few months, Hurwitz developed the characters and plot for the series. The script of the pilot episode was submitted in January 2003 and filmed in March 2003. It was submitted in late April to Fox and was added to the network's fall schedule that May.[11]


David Cross and Jeffrey Tambor's portrayals mixed well with the rest of the characters, and they were given more significant parts.[11] Howard provided the narration for the initial pilot, and his narrating meshed so well with the tone of the program that the decision was made to keep his voice.[13] Howard also aided in the casting of "Lucille 2"; the producers told him that their dream actress for the role was Liza Minnelli but assumed no one of her stature would take the part.[14] She agreed when Ron Howard asked her himself, because they were old friends; she had been his babysitter when she was a teenager.[15]

Production design

Arrested Development uses several elements rare for American live-action sitcoms. It was shot on location and on videotape with multiple cameras, parodying tactics often employed in documentary film and reality television, straying from the "fixed-set, studio audience, laugh track" style long dominant in comedy production.[16] The show also makes heavy use of cutaway gags, supplementing the narrative with visual punchlines like security camera footage, Bluth family photos, website screenshots, archive films, and flashbacks.[16] An omniscient third-person narrator (producer Ron Howard) ties together the multiple plot threads running through each episode, while humorously undercutting and commenting on the characters.[17] Arrested Development also developed a unique self-referentiality through use of in-jokes that evolved over multiple episodes, which rewarded longtime viewership (and in turn may have discouraged new viewers and contributed to the show's ratings issues).[16]


In November 2003, the producers of the show were sued by the hip hop group Arrested Development over the alleged use of their name.[18] Rapper "Speech" from the group said "The use of our name by Fox is not only confusing to the public, but also has the potential to significantly dilute what the 'Arrested Development' name means to our fans".[18] The lawsuit was quietly settled for an undisclosed sum.[18]

This incident was referenced in the episode "Motherboy XXX". The narration refers to a band called "Motherboy", which the narration claims the show is "legally required to make a distinction" from, with respect to the "Motherboy" event happening in the episode.[18]

Cancellation and revival

Actors from Arrested Development dancing on a stage
The cast does the "chicken dance" at the Arrested Development reunion in October 2011.

Actors from Arrested Development dancing on a stage

During the series' third season in 2006, despite months-long rumors of Arrested Development having been picked up by the cable television network Showtime,[19] creator Hurwitz declined to move the show to another network.[20] As Hurwitz explained, "I had taken it as far as I felt I could as a series. I told the story I wanted to tell, and we were getting to a point where I think a lot of the actors were ready to move on."[21] He said that he was "more worried about letting down the fans in terms of the quality of the show dropping" than he was about disappointing fans by not giving them more episodes. He also said, "If there's a way to continue this in a form that's not weekly episodic series television, I'd be up for it".

On October 2, 2011, the entire cast of Arrested Development reunited for a panel at The New Yorker Festival in New York.[22] At the panel, Hurwitz declared his intention of producing a truncated fourth season as a lead-in to a film adaptation.[23]

Six years after the series had been canceled by Fox, filming for a revived fourth season began on August 7, 2012.[24] Fifteen episodes of the show's revival season were released simultaneously on Netflix on May 26, 2013.[1]


Rumors of a possible full-length Arrested Development film circulated after the possibility was referenced in season 3's final episode, "Development Arrested".[25] In 2008, Howard was slated to direct the film, though it is not clear if he still is.[26][27] Reportedly, all original members of the main cast are expected to reprise their original roles.[28] As of July 11, 2013, Netflix was in discussions for a fifth season.[29] In August 2013, Hurwitz commented "I'm working on the movie right now" and his plan is to do another season after the movie is completed.[30] In August 2014, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos stated in an interview with USA Today that there is a strong possibility of a fifth season. "It's just a matter of when."[31] In April 2015, executive producer Brian Grazer confirmed that a fifth season is in development and will consist of 17 episodes.[32]


Main characters

The main cast of Arrested Development pose in a police lineup.
From left to right: Gob, George Sr., Lindsay, Tobias, Michael, Lucille, George Michael, Maeby, and Buster.

The main cast of Arrested Development pose in a police lineup.

The plot of Arrested Development revolves around the members of the Bluth family, who lead extravagant lifestyles,[33] and are also often drawn into interactions with incestuous undertones.[34] At the center of the show is Michael Cera), has the same qualities of decency but feels a constant pressure to live up to his father's expectations and is often reluctant to follow his father's plans.[33]

Michael's father, George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), is the patriarch of the family, who often goes to considerable lengths to manipulate and control his family.[36] His wife, and Michael's mother, Lucille (Jessica Walter), is equally manipulative, materialistic, and hypercritical of every member of her family, as well as being a perpetual drunk.[33] In particular, she has a tight grip on her youngest son, Byron "Buster" Bluth (Tony Hale), who, as a result of her over-mothering, is socially inept and prone to panic attacks.[33]

Michael's older brother is George Oscar Bluth ("GOB") ([97] In 2012, Entertainment Weekly listed the show at No. 2 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years", praising its "fast, delirious, interlocking jokes that don't pander to the masses; winky gags (e.g. fake preview scenes for the following week's episode); and a cast of absurd characters".[98]


In 2004, the first season received seven Emmy Award nominations with five wins. It won for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, for the pilot episode written by Mitchell Hurwitz and directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo. Jeffrey Tambor was nominated that year for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.[99]

In 2005, the second season received eleven Emmy nominations in seven categories with one win. Notable nominations included Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Jason Bateman), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Jeffrey Tambor), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Jessica Walter) as well as three nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, in which it won for "Righteous Brothers", written by Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely.[99]

In 2006, the third season received four Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Will Arnett), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the series finale "Development Arrested".[99]

In 2013, the fourth season received three Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series (Jason Bateman), Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) and Outstanding Single-camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series.[99]

Other awards include:

  • The 2004 TV Land Award for "Future Classic", the first recognition the series received. The award presentation is included on the season one DVD release.[100]
  • The 2004 Television Critics Association Awards for Outstanding Comedy and Outstanding New Program, and the 2005 award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy.[101][102]
  • The 2005 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy for Jason Bateman.[103]
  • The 2004 Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Comedy, for the episode "Pier Pressure", written by Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely.[104]
  • The 2004 Satellite Award for Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical, along with Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter for Best Performance by an Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series – Comedy or Musical.[105] In 2005, Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi won for Best Actor and Actress in a Series – Comedy or Musical.[106] Jason Bateman also won the same award the following ceremony.[107]
  • The 2005 Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) – Supporting Young Actress for Alia Shawkat.[108]


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Further reading

  • Kristin M. Barton (ed.), A State of Arrested Development: Critical Essays on the Innovative Television Comedy. Foreword by Mitchell Hurwitz. Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishing, 2015.

External links

Gillian Flynn of

Alison Powell of The Guardian said "As Hollywood agents worry about the demise of the town's lowing cash cow, the multi-camera, staged sitcom, here to save the day is Arrested Development, a farce of such blazing wit and originality, that it must surely usher in a new era in comedy."[96]

David Bianculli from the New York Daily News stated "If you're not watching this series on Fox, the least you can do is buy it on DVD. You'll love it, and it's such a dense show (in the best sense of the word) that it rewards repeated viewing. Like Scrubs and the British version of The Office, it is the sort of show that truly deserves to be seen uninterrupted, several episodes at a time, for maximum enjoyment. The laughs-per-minute quotient here is insanely high, making it great value as a home library purchase."[95]

Tim Stack of Entertainment Weekly praised the series, saying "Is it beating a dead horse to once again state that this underappreciated gem is the best sitcom on TV? Too bad. Arrested Development is the best sitcom on TV!"[94]

Throughout its original run, Arrested Development received overwhelming critical acclaim.[3] It is widely regarded as one of the defining comedies of the 2000s and has been praised by many critics as one of the greatest comedies of all time.[92][93] In 2007, the show was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".[4]

Critical response

For the third season, Fox positioned the show at 8:00 p.m. ET.[88] Ratings dropped further than previous seasons.[89] On November 9, 2005, Fox announced that the show would not be airing in November sweeps, and that they had cut the episode order for the third season from 22 to 13.[89] Fox ended up showing the last four episodes in a two-hour timeslot—directly opposite the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics.[90] The series finale episode received 3.43 million viewers.[91]

U.S. ratings in the second season averaged about six million viewers, while the third season averaged about four million viewers.[86] Fox announced that it would halt the production of the second season at eighteen episodes—four episodes short of the planned season.[87]

The show, while critically acclaimed, did not gain a sizable audience.[3] According to the Nielsen ratings system, the show's first season was the 120th most popular show among households and the 88th among viewers aged 18 to 49, averaging 6.2 million viewers.[85]

Television ratings


Each episode of the season occurs over approximately the same stretch of time, but focuses on a different character. Information on events depicted in a given episode is often partial and filled in a later episode.[84]

Filming for a revived fourth season began on August 7, 2012, seven years after the series had been canceled by Fox.[24] The season consists of 15 new episodes,[1] all debuting at the same time on Netflix on May 26, 2013 in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America, and the Nordic countries.[77] Several actors who had recurring roles in the original series returned to reprise their roles, including Carl Weathers as himself, Henry Winkler as Barry Zuckerkorn, Ben Stiller as Tony Wonder, Mae Whitman as Ann Veal, Scott Baio as Bob Loblaw, Judy Greer as Kitty Sanchez, and Liza Minnelli as Lucille Austero; while new characters are played by Debra Mooney, John Slattery, Tommy Tune, Terry Crews, Isla Fisher and John Krasinski.[78][79][80][81][82][83] Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogen appear as Lucille and George Sr., respectively, in flashbacks.

Season four (2013)

To celebrate their victory in Iraq, the Bluths throw a shareholders' party on the Ron Howard, who tells her that he sees it as a movie rather than a series.[76]

[75] The family members are afraid to testify at the mock trial and at the real deposition; Buster fakes a coma, Lindsay and Lucille fake entering rehab, and Gob flees the country to perform in a

[74] With the family's retainer used up because of Lindsay's and Tobias's advances, Bob Loblaw chooses to no longer represent the Bluth family. Attorney Jan Eagleman offers to represent the family, on the condition that they participate in a mock trial in a new reality courtroom show called "Mock Trial with

In an attempt to remain in disguise, George Sr. joins the Rita Leeds (Charlize Theron). Michael and the audience are led to believe that Rita is a mole for the underground British group, working for a man named "Mr. F".[72] However, love-struck Michael proposes to her, and the couple run off to wed. Finally, it is revealed that Rita is actually an "MRF", or "mentally retarded female". Despite Rita's "condition", the family pushes him to go forward with the marriage because Rita is wealthy and they want her money. Michael is not persuaded and gently ends the relationship just as he and Rita are about to walk down the aisle.[73] Meanwhile, Tobias and Lindsay seek legal help from Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio) concerning their troubled marriage.

Michael again searches for his runaway father, George Sr. Gob receives an invitation to a father/son reunion outing, and believes it to be George Sr. trying to contact him. In reality, the invitation was meant to reunite Gob with Steve Holt, son of Eve Holt, a girl Gob slept with in high school. Meanwhile, George Michael and Maeby deal with their previous kiss by avoiding each other.[70]

Season three (2005–06)

[66] George Michael begins dating a deeply religious girl,

Lindsay and Tobias continue their disastrous open relationship. Lindsay tries—but fails—to secure a lover, while Tobias paints himself blue each night in a futile attempt to join the Blue Man Group.[67] When Lindsay kicks him out of the house, Tobias disguises himself as a singing British nanny named "Mrs. Featherbottom" (an idea he gets from the film Mrs. Doubtfire) so he can watch over his daughter Maeby. The family sees right through this incompetent disguise, but they humor Tobias since—in the guise of Mrs. Featherbottom—he does their chores.[68]

[66] Buster meanwhile joins the army, but escapes serving in Iraq when his hand is bitten off by a loose

George Sr. is not, in fact, gone. After faking his death in Iraq, fumigators surround the house while he's still in the attic, and Kitty returns to steal a sample of his semen to make her own Bluth baby.

[63] Because of his father's latest prison break deception (a faked heart attack), Michael decides to leave his family and move to

Season two (2004–05)

Throughout the first season, different characters struggle to change their identities. Buster works to escape from his mother's control by bonding with brothers Michael and Gob as well as with love interest Lucille Austero, Lucille Bluth's neighbor and chief social rival.[57] treason" by using the company to build mini-palaces for Saddam Hussein in Iraq.[62]

[56] George Bluth Sr., patriarch of the Bluth family, is the founder and former CEO of the Bluth Company which markets and builds

Season one (2003–04)

Season Episodes Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale Distributor
1 22 November 2, 2003 (2003-11-02) June 6, 2004 (2004-06-06) Fox
2 18 November 7, 2004 (2004-11-07) April 17, 2005 (2005-04-17)
3 13 September 19, 2005 (2005-09-19) February 10, 2006 (2006-02-10)
4 15 May 26, 2013 (2013-05-26) Netflix
5 17[55] 2016 (2016)


[54] A British mentally handicapped woman named Rita Leeds (

[41] Beginning in the second season,

[43] plays a parodied version of himself as Tobias' acting coach.Carl Weathers [42] The family's lawyer, Barry Zuckerkorn ([40] George Sr.'s identical twin brother, Oscar (also played by Jeffrey Tambor), is a lethargic ex-hippie seeking the affection of George's wife, Lucille.[39] Several other characters regularly appear in recurring roles.

Henry Winkler portrays bumbling lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn.

Recurring characters

[33]), a rebellious teen, whose chief motivation is defying her parents, in an effort to get their attention.Alia Shawkat (Mae "Maeby" Fünke Their daughter is [38][37]), whose language and behavior have heavily homosexual overtones to which he seems completely oblivious and which are the center of much tongue-in-cheek comedy throughout the series.gymnophobia Tobias is a self-diagnosed "never-nude" (a disorder comparable to [33]), a discredited psychiatrist-turned-aspiring actor.David Cross (Tobias Fünke She is married to [37]) is spoiled and materialistic, continually desiring to be the center of attention and attracted to various social causes.Portia de Rossi (Lindsay Michael's twin sister [33].Biblical figure Job, like the

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