David Frum

05.28.13

In Defense of ‘Arrested Development’

Please forgive my brief pivot from politics to a similarly dysfunctional passion project: Arrested Development.

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Here’s the problem with the entire season: since many of the cast members are now considerably more famous, getting them all on set at the same time was really hard. As a result, the entire season is piecemeal, with episodes devoted to each character.

(For the record, the best three episodes deal with Gob, Tobias, and Buster, and it's not even close.)

But I digress. As with past seasons of the show, you won't get the jokes unless you watch the entire thing. Sorry, but it simply won't happen. Best of luck understanding the back story behind the chaotic glitter bombing without getting past Episode 10, and similar best wishes understanding the season's grossest love triangle without finishing the whole thing. The series is premised on the idea that you'll see all the episodes, and then watch them again. I still spot new jokes every time I watch Season 1, and will continue to see new ones as I age. Like a decent Disney movie, there's a very different message for kids, young adults, and our aged parents.

And regarding what is perhaps the most cogent critique of the new season, that the show lost its luster after no longer having to evade the network censors ... sorry. That's part of the game. As we all know, AD was the first show to say the F word on television, and it got away with it by being brilliant: (Note: there’s obviously a major NSFW curse word in the video below.)

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[Second note: The first four and final five seconds of this clip were shown separately, and it's only by going back to splice them together that you get the wonderful F bomb.]

The new season doesn't need those tricks, because there's no need to dance around censors. As such, the new season casually deals with sex offenders, the still-weird relationship between George Michael and Maeby, the unfixable Gob, whether Tobias will ever come out of the closet and make a nu start, and why Michael is such a mess. It's not the same thing as it was during the original season, but it's a television show. Things change, especially ones that realistically peaked during their first season. There will never be a season as creatively brilliant as the first, so it was hard to be disappointed that it wasn't the same as before.

As such, I'll hand it off to a roundtable featuring a few of my friends, who masterfully chronicled the best bits of the season at The American Prospect. (SPOILER ALERT X1000)

And remember kids, the show is terrible until you watch it all. Any critique of the show based on an incomplete viewing is one you should ignore at all costs.

And let's be real: even a bad season of Arrested Development is worlds better than mouth-breathing shows like The Big Bang Theory.

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Miss the old 'Arrested Development?' Here are the best of the bleeps from the first three seasons.