I’m ashamed to admit that I was part of the Arrested Development problem. I didn’t listen when people said it was the best show that nobody was watching and did not appreciate its brilliance until it was too late. Of course, I didn’t have a Neilsen Box, so I didn’t actually affect the ratings — and I eventually did my part by purchasing all three seasons on DVD — but if I had begun watching when it mattered, perhaps I could have done something to keep it on the air. At the very least, I could have cared.
But now Arrested Development is back! I don’t know if there is a screenplay or even a plot outline, but the word about town is that the producers have signed a deal and that all of the actors — except one — are set to return. The lone holdout is a mystery at this point. Apparently, several people confirmed that there is one, but nobody will say who it is.
I’m wishing with all my might that the holdout is not one of the women. While the show was enhanced by some memorable recurring women (Liza Minelli as Lucille Austero, Judy Greer as Kitty, Charlize Theron as Rita), the Bluth/Fünke women were some of the funniest, most horrifyingly appealing women on television. It would be wrong to go forward without any of the women, but if one if them is the holdout, I’m trying to imagine how it could work.
Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter)
Why she’s needed: Lucille is the Bluth family matriarch and — as we learned in the series finale — the criminal mastermind behind the Bluth family business. It seems inevitable that the movie will include this development. And she’s arguably the best-written character on the show. As 90210 unfortunately demonstrates, it’s easy to sloppily imitate a drunk, acerbically witty character, but not so easy to actually create one.
How they could write her out: Given the disclosure of her criminal past, she could be on the lam. In fact, the plot could be about the search for her. And, of course, the subplot of how Buster would fare without her has promise. But imagine this plot with her — it could lead to a wonderful women-in-prison development.
Lindsay Bluth Fünke (Portia de Rossi)
Why she’s needed: Lindsay is the self-involved, irresponsible counterpart to Jason Bateman’s Michael Bluth; she’s essential to the balance of the show. Plus, she’s the only 30-something female character. Finally, she has perfect comic timing and it would just be wrong to lose her.
How they could write her out: I’ve tried — and failed — to come with scenarios and I just cannot see it.
Maeby Fünke (Alia Shawkat)
Why she’s needed: In addition to serving as the only representation of adolescent Bluthdom, Maeby illustrates what happens to a kid raised by lazy, self-centered parents with no self-awareness: She becomes a movie development executive. Plus, the cutely creepy tension between George Michael (Michael Cera) and Maeby is too integral to the character of the family.
How they could write her out: Maeby and George Michael probably present the biggest challenges to the plot. The show ended in 2006 and the adolescent characters are going to make it impossible to ignore the passage of time. Plus the attraction between them — if still present — is going to be more creepy than cute. So I suppose, if Maeby is the holdout, the writers could use that to create more plot flexibility. But I still hope it’s not the case.
Regardless, whoever returns and whatever the story, I promise to be a good Arrested Development citizen and see the movie when it makes a difference.
Are there other Arrested Development fans out there? What do you think about the prospect of a movie?