“Arrested Development” is back, and whether you spent Memorial Day weekend barbequing and thinking you’d check out the series later or binge-watching the entire new season because sunshine and burgers are no match for the Bluth family, everyone is now talking about the Netflix comedy.
However you chose to spend your holiday, MTV News has got your back. Here are the eight, spoiler-heavy things people are buzzing about.
Mitch Hurwitz’s Letter
Before anyone had a chance to watch a single episode, series creator Mitch Hurwitz was already out in front of the “Arrested” conversation, penning an actual letter to “friends, fans, supporters, detractors, haters, enemies and archenemies.” The note, at least in part an inside joke for dedicated fans, still felt oddly defensive. Why address the haters before they’ve hated? Why try, with his pleas for us to watch the episodes in order and perhaps not in a half-day binge, to control the viewing experience?
Let’s pause to highlight some of the hilarious moments from these episodes, because they shouldn’t be lost amid — take your pick — the quibbles and the hate. Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) being voted out of the college dorm room of his son George Michael (Michael Cera) was awkwardly hilarious, a perfect “Arrested” moment where the humor arises from family members’ inability to communicate with one another. Could we have asked for anything more classically Tobias Fünke (David Cross) than the guy mistaking a methadone clinic for an acting class? And what about Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) blowing cigarette smoke into her son’s (Tony Hale) mouth? The episodes are littered with such golden moments, and for this we must thank Hurwitz and his writers.
Those Long Episodes
“Arrested” was yanked from the airwaves seven years ago, so it seems odd to complain that when it returned to the screen, there was too much of it. But it’s true. New episodes run about 30 minutes each, as opposed to the 22-minute episodes of the past. The result is that individual scenes tend to last just a tad too long. Whereas the old show left us wanting more — the unrealistic prospect of another few laughs, a couple more cringe-worthy moments — the Netflix series shows us a) exactly what we’d hoped for and b) that those hopes were misguided.
That Confusing Timeline
“Arrested” was always an intricately structured show, but the new episodes can be straight up confusing. There are flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re in the present or have been shunted off on yet another Ron Howard-narrated journey into recent past. Scenes replay themselves multiple times from various characters perspectives, finally granting small narrative payoffs that probably weren’t worth the three-episode-long buildup.
What Happened to Michael?
Tobias and his wife Lindsay Fünke (Portia de Rossi) finally had sex, albeit not with each other. While some character developments are welcome, others are not. Case in point: what the heck happened to Michael, the man whose entire purpose had been to keep the Bluth family from falling apart? This time around, he’s an anxious, oblivious mess who is causing far more problems than he is ham-handedly trying to solve. This is not the Michael we knew, and certainly not the one we deserve.
As Hurwitz anticipated in his letter, some folks were going to heap scorn on “Arrested” no matter what. Fine. But the hate seems a little out of hand at the moment. Is it fair for one critic to watch half the season and then declare that the Internet has “killed ‘Arrested Development’”? Few shows have ever been as good as the original run of the show, so is it fair to expect the same level of comedic excellence? Or is it better instead to be grateful this show has returned and to revel in its many pleasures?
Did you catch them all? There’s Mitch Hurwitz selling chorizo during the Cinco de Cuatro celebration. There’s a poster for the Blue Man Group in the methadone clinic. The mural Michael passes in the Phoenix is filled with references to previous seasons. And if you’re wondering why Tobias, who refuses to ever be fully naked, dresses up like the Thing from The Fantastic Four, it’s because there’s a running Internet joke that the superhero is also a never-nude.
Apart from the obvious ones — Kristen Wiig as Lucille and Seth Rogen as George Sr., the dudes from “Workaholics” — there are also the satisfying returns of past minor characters: Scott Baio as Bob Loblaw, Bob Einstein as Larry Middleman, Judy Greer as Kitty Sanchez, even Amy Poehler as the wife of Gob (Will Arnett), despite the fact that in real life Poehler and Arnett have divorced since she appeared on the original show. Did you also notice Henry Winkler’s son playing a young version of Winkler’s character? And don’t forget the seal that chomped off Buster’s hand!