Arrested Development is an American television sitcom created by Mitchell Hurwitz for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The show’s storyline centers on the Bluth family, a formerly wealthy, habitually dysfunctional family and is presented in a continuous format, incorporating hand-held camera work, narration, archival photos, and historical footage. Ron Howard is an executive producer and the uncredited narrator. Although set in Newport Beach and Balboa Island, California Arrested Development was primarily filmed around Culver City and Marina del Rey. Three seasons of the show were produced and aired between 2003 and 2006.
Since debuting on November 2, 2003, the series earned six Emmy awards, one Golden Globe, critical acclaim and attracted a cult following, including several fan-based websites, and in 2007 was listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME.”
Despite the approval from critics, Arrested Development never climbed in the ratings. Fox aired the final four episodes of the third season in a block as a two-hour series finale on February 10, 2006, opposite the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics (which was being broadcast on NBC). Despite its cancellation, the series has developed a devoted fanbase and cult following. A script is currently under development for a movie adaptation of Arrested Development.
The plot of Arrested Development revolves around the members of the Bluth family, who generally lead excessive lifestyles. At the center of the show is the relatively honorable Michael Bluth(Jason Bateman), who strives to do the right thing and keep his family together, despite their materialism, selfishness, and manipulative natures. His teenage son,George Michael(Michael Cera), has the same qualities of decency, but feels a constant pressure to live up to his father’s expectations, and is often reluctant to follow his father’s plans. Michael’s own father George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) is the patriarch of the family. At times dictatorial, George Sr. goes to considerable lengths to manipulate and control his family. His wife, and Michael’s mother, Lucille (Jessica Walter), is equally manipulative, materialistic, and hypercritical of every member of her family, as well as being a perpetual drunk. In particular, she has a tight grip on her youngest son, Byron “Buster” Bluth (Tony Hale), who, as a result of his mother’s dominance and sheltering, is unstable, socially inept, and prone to panic attacks.
Michael’s older brother is Gob, played by Will Arnett. His name is an acronym for George Oscar Bluth II, and although pronounced Jōb, as in the Biblical figure, it is frequently mispronounced as Gŏb by various characters in the show. Gob is an unsuccessful professional magician whose business and personal schemes usually fail, or become tiresome and are abandoned. He uses a Segway for transportation, and sometimes converses with others from it while stationary, as if it were a pulpit. Gob is used by his father to undermine Michael’s control of the family business. Michael’s twin sister Lindsay Fünke (Portia de Rossi) is flamboyant and materialistic, continually desiring to be the center of attention and attracted to various social causes, usually for a week or so. She enjoys being objectified but also protests it. She is married to Tobias Fünke (David Cross), a discredited psychiatrist, aspiring actor, and “never-nude”, whose language and behavior have heavy homosexual overtones to which he seems completely oblivious and which are the center of much tongue-in-cheek comedy throughout the series. Their precocious daughter Mae “Maeby” Fünke (Alia Shawkat) is the polar opposite of her cousin George Michael—skipping school, cheating on homework, and stealing money from the family’s frozen banana stand business (which also happens to be managed by George Michael). The ever-rebellious teen, Maeby’s chief motivation is defying her parents’ wishes.
Several other characters regularly appear in minor roles. George Sr.’s identical twin brother, Oscar (also played by Jeffrey Tambor, in a wig), is a lethargic ex-hippie seeking the affection of George’s wife, Lucille. The family’s lawyer, Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler), is an incompetent sexual deviant who often hinders the family’s legal battles rather than helping them. He is eventually replaced by Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio). Lucille Austero, or “Lucille 2”, played by Liza Minnelli, is Lucille’s “best friend and chief social rival” as well as a sometimes-love interest of Buster and, later, Gob. Steve Holt (Justin Grant Wade) is a high school senior (taking the year for the third time, as evidenced by his appearance in three yearbooks) and football star at the high school George Michael and Maeby attend. He often shouts his name, “Steve Holt!”, while pumping his fists in the air. He is later discovered to be Gob’s biological son. Carl Weathers plays a parodic version of himself as an unemployed, excessively thrifty, stew-loving actor. Beginning in the second season, Mae Whitman portrays Ann Veal, George Michael’s sternly Christian girlfriend, who is often forgotten or disparaged by Michael. Ann was played by Alessandra Torresani in the character’s first appearance in Season 1 in the episode “Let ‘Em Eat Cake”. J. Walter Weatherman (Steve Ryan), a one-armed amputee, is an old employee of George Senior. Weatherman appears in flashbacks from many episodes where, as hired by George Sr., he would lose his prosthetic arm in attempts to scare Michael, Gob, Lindsay, and Buster and teach them such lessons as “Always leave a note”, “Don’t yell”, “Don’t leave the door open with the air conditioner on” and “Don’t teach lessons to your son.” A British mentally handicapped woman named Rita Leeds (Charlize Theron) appears in five episodes in the third season as Michael’s female companion. Michael was completely unaware of her mental condition until just before their wedding was supposed to begin. Judy Greer plays George Bluth Senior’s assistant and lover (and partner-in-crime), Kitty Sanchez, for 10 episodes of the series.
Awards and nominations
In 2004, the first season received seven Emmy Award nominations with five wins. It won for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, for the “Pilot” episode written by Mitchell Hurwitz and directed by brothers Anthony and Joe Russo. Jeffrey Tambor was nominated that year for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
In 2005, the second season received eleven Emmy nominations in seven categories with one win. Notable nominations included Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Jason Bateman), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Jeffrey Tambor), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Jessica Walter) as well as three nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, in which it won for “Righteous Brothers”, written by Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely.
In 2006, the third season received four Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Will Arnett), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the series finale “Development Arrested.”
Other awards include:
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