I’m old enough to remember when Arrested Development first debuted, and to be one of many people who shrugged their shoulders and couldn’t fathom how in the heck Fox didn’t renew it after the show’s excellent first three seasons.
Memorable characters who each had their own clear objectives/motives. Excellent writing. Slick production values. Laugh-out-loud funny without an awful laugh-track telling me what should be funny. Arrested Development had it all.
True, fans of the show can be found on various Reddit forums pasting circle-jerk threads and threads of jokes and quotes from the show. Like we get it: we’ve seen the show and we love it too, and I too remember quotes from the series, but there’s no reason to flood a thread about a new cancer treatment with endless banana stand references.
After years of hiatus, it eventually landed at Netflix to the delight of fans/binge-watchers/people-with-taste everywhere. And because were nearing the show’s 15th year anniversary and the strength of Arrested Development lies in its huge and super-talented cast, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable moments for each character in the series.
There aren’t many actors who could pull off the snarky dude with a heart of gold who can still be sarcastic, charming, and upbeat in the face of utter insanity. Jason Bateman plays Michael Bluth perfectly and there are tons of amazing moments in the show that he’s involved with, like having a low-carb breakdown on his father while visiting him in prison, or using the Bluth stair-truck to help Gob bust out of jail, or constantly asking his son, “her?” when referring to his bland girlfriend, Ann. But the small moment that perfectly captures Michael’s character — and the entire dynamic of the Bluth family — is when Lucille gives Michael a hug and he sincerely asks, “what are you doing?”
The concept of being hugged by his mother is so foreign to him, and Bateman’s response is so genuine that if you needed to explain Michael’s character in a few seconds, you’d show someone this scene to drive the point home.
George has gotten his family involved in tons of schemes throughout the series, but the craziest stunt he’s ever pulled is probably when he shaved his hippie brother’s head and lured him into coming to his exoneration party with the promise of free food, knowing the authorities and everyone would confuse the two of them. That, and the time he frustratingly hinted to Michael that there’s “always money in the banana stand”, only to learn later his son burned the stand down to a crisp for insurance money because Michael didn’t know his dad meant that there was actual money lining the walls of the banana stand.
Here’s the thing about Lucille: you could read through all of her amazing quotes about how much she enjoys day-drinking and how little she cares for her son Gob and you’d never be bored. She’s unapologetically shallow and selfish while being bitingly smart. It’s impossible to hate her because she owns every bit of who she is. Her best moments come up in her rivalry with her neighbor, Lucille Austero, aka, Lucille 2. Her most nefarious moment is when she was supposed to let some workers into Lucille 2’s apartment, but instead has them come into her place to do work on her bathroom and move her walls into Austero’s place, giving Lucille Bluth more square footage without paying a dime. Now that’s the ultimate in pettiness.
The king of the Freudian Slip, the doctor turned-wannabe actor, is just a tornado of cringe and an utter-lack-of-self awarenes. While he’s got a cornucopia of moments that define his character (The Mrs. Doubtfire episode is hilarious), everyone will always know him for the Blue Man fiasco.
Maeby’s one of the smarter characters in the show, and like many of the cunning/conniving members of the Bluth clan, she uses her wits to selfishly serve herself. There are tons of awkward moments between her and her cousin, George Michael, that are absolutely hilarious, but one of most memorable things she’s done in the show is when she created an alter-ego, Surely, who was terminally ill, in order to con her classmates out of donation money. The fact that she also planned to kill Surely off right before prom just to bum everyone else out is just priceless, too.
Gob is my personal favorite. He’s a ball of insecurity, unwarranted arrogance, laziness, and pure stupidity. He couldn’t survive without any of his family members and he’s a constant laughing-stock. I could probably do an entire list on all of his failed magic tricks (just the fact that he’s an aspiring magician is amazing enough). I was torn between this moment and I’m about to name, and how he managed to “escape” from prison, which consisted of him getting attacked by an inmate and being ushered out of jail in an ambulance. But I have to give it up to the moment when Gob, in a banana costume, was hanging from a crane sadly, trying to keep his ego in tact as a crowd of people hooted and cackled at him while he says, almost in tears, to his brother, “Look Michael, they’re laughing with me!”
The fact that Buster loses his hand is funny. The fact that he joins the military and actually learns how to sneak around and do badass spy stuff is also funny. The fact that he’s an overgrown man-child with multiple degrees who is unable to function without his mommy is hilarious, as his obsession with juice. But all of that pales in comparison to the scene where he’s caught in bed with a Roomba. That’s comedy gold.
Lindsay Bluth is fabulous and self-absorbed, like a lot of the Bluths. She also pretends to be interested in charitable causes, but more as an excuse for partying, socializing, and getting exposure for herself. The best episode is when she attempts to give a damn about the “wetlands” and goes out in the field. It goes about as well as you’d expect: she utterly hates her life and even sprays a crane with Mace. To quote:
“I hate the Wetlands. They’re stupid and wet, and there are bugs everywhere, and I think I maced a crane, Michael.”
George Michael Bluth
If there ever was a role that someone was made to play, it’d be Michael Cera as George Michael Scott. There’s something about the “down in the dumps” and “woe is me” persona of George Michael that Cera’s so adept at capturing. And although the show is full of moments where something awkward happens and the camera cut to his face and you can just feel the cringe pouring out of it, I’d say the moment that really captures everything George Michael’s about is when, while having the hots for Maeby, she sits on his lap in the car and you can see the certain dread fill his face. It’s plain wonderful.
Great, well, after going through all of these moments, I’m in the mood for yet another Arrested Development marathon.