While some TV series like The Office, Lost and The Simpsons carried on long after they lost the magic that originally captivated us, Arrested Development remained a razor sharp comedy right up to its 2006 cancellation. So it was no small Internet miracle when the news broke that Netflix would be funding the resurrection of this beloved monument to domestic disintegration. We'll recap the fifteen-episode package of Arrested Development season four (premiering this Sunday on Netflix) in our comedy column, Funny Ha Ha, next Tuesday. In the meantime, we're taking a look back at just a few of the gloriously neurotic themes that recurred throughout the first three seasons. Enjoy!
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5. Michael Bluth's helicopter parenting For the most part, Jason Bateman is the straight man of Arrested Development, the calm center in the middle of a neurotic hurricane. All heroes have a vulnerable underbelly, though, and this handsome savior just can't seem to back off when it comes to his budding teenage son, who has plenty of his own humiliating impulses to deal with (see our first-place entry).
4. Does Tobias Fünke play on the boys team? David Cross's character spends the first three seasons of Arrested Development trying to be an actor -- while everyone else knows that he's always been one. Whether it's his celibate marriage, his cross-dressing nannying or his "never nude" psychopathy, there's clearly some kind of heavy sexual repression knotted up in ole Tobias's bi-polar brain.
3. Gob Bluth is not a magic man If there's anything that connects the members of the Bluth family to each other (certainly not familial empathy), it's a complete inability to face their shortcomings. And so it seems that the only trick that Gob Bluth can pull off is fooling himself that he has a drop of talent as a magician. But it was certainly endearing to watch his tenacity in the face of one failure after another.
2. Liza Minnelli is busted As if creepy man-child Buster Bluth wasn't unsettling enough on his own, adding a vertigo-stricken Liza Minnelli to the mix as his unrelenting love interest made us all a bit dizzy. While Buster clearly needed to escape the claws of his drunken, misanthropic mother, surrendering himself to the clutches of this maniacal harpy didn't' seem the best way for this over-ripe hatchling to test his wings.
1. Cousin coupling There was nothing more conflicting than the way we all -- sort of -- cheered on the kiss that finally happened between George Michael and his cousin Maeby at the conclusion of the series (or what would've been the conclusion, if not for Netflix saving the day). As with The Office's Jim and Pam, we sat through an unending series of episodes where the adorably pubescent Michael Cera ached with semi-incestuous affection for his freckle-faced relative. But unlike J&P, this pairing faced deeper complications than just a wrong-for-you fiance. It made for great comedy, but a most unsettling dramatic climax.
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For more comedy commentary, follow me on Twitter at @JosiahMHesse.