What was always subversive and exciting about Arrested Development was its ability to be so offbeat, so irreverent, and so clever within the confines of a 22-minute block of network TV.
It has taken a few days, but I have now entered into the acceptance phase of my grief over the fourth season of Arrested Development. There is so much wrong with the new straight-to-Netflix 15 episodes that it’s hard to remember how this seemed like such a good idea only a week ago (and for years prior). In the run up to the all-at-once release of the episodes on May 26 at 3.00am EST, there was much debate about how to watch the episodes. Should viewers watch them in order, out of order, all at once, one a time with some breaks in the middle, etc.? I presently find myself asking a different question: should these episodes even be viewed them at all? The existential question as to whether this season should have ever been attempted is important, but first let’s gets to why the new season is such a disaster.
For one, the feel of the show is completely different from its former self. Jason Bateman’s Michael Bluth was always the lead in the first three seasons and for good reason. He was the dependable good guy who, despite his justified inclination to leave his selfish family behind, always subverted his own happiness for the good of the comically self-absorbed people he felt obligated to protect. Michael tied the bizarre strands of the show together and provided the audience a reliable source through which to experience the funny, but awful things that the people he loved did to each other and to him.