TV Land: In a state of 'Arrested Development'

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OCTOBER 05, 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged that middle school is the scourge of all human experience.

This is probably how Jane Austen would’ve begun “Pride and Prejudice” had she, like myself and countless other victims, been subject to the constant drudgery of junior high life. It’s a tragic tale told by many and in my case the suffering was no different. In short, I had pasty skin, the reflexes of a dead sloth, the athletic ability of a kumquat and a lingering obsession with “Titanic”-era Leonardo DiCaprio. Also, I watched “The O.C.” Enough said. But, despite these trying times, there was one respite from the greasy pizza and greasy faces. It was called “Arrested Development.”

For three years, the Bluth family welcomed us into their model home and filled us with their warmth, their spirit, their love of frozen bananas and their magical tricks. Sorry. I mean, “illusions.” Up until the show’s 2003 premiere, the only sitcoms I knew were “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Frasier” and “Boy Meets World.”

Minus the latter, which I watched for one reason (his name is Shawn Hunter), these were the programs forced upon me by my parents. And like the Garth Brooks noise (not music) they impressed upon me during car trips, I had it fixed in my mind that these shows were horrendous. Nobody loved Raymond, least of all me, and I yearned for a show where laugh tracks disappeared and jokes about in-laws were dead and buried alongside that sloth.

Mitch Hurwitz came to the rescue. He was the valiant savior who was finally bringing the serious issues of the day to light: the plight of the Never Nudes, the illegal real estates trade in Iraq and, of course, cousin-on-cousin incestuous love. I myself had a rather dysfunctional family, but not like the Bluths. My family didn’t have their own chicken dances.

No, the Bluths were something utterly strange, special and macabre which I had never seen on television before and certainly never on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Hurwitz had tapped into an eccentric paradise of ingenious plotting and absurd characters. It was stupendous, and like George Sr. with his ice cream sandwiches, I was having a love affair with “Arrested Development.”

I couldn’t help it, naturally. The conditions were perfect. The middling minions of my middle school had confirmed what I always suspected of being true — I was a weirdo who was obsessed with TV. With the Bluth family, I had finally found that ideal combination of weirdos who were on TV. I didn’t have to leave the house. Who would’ve wanted to anyway? The only hangout in my town was the candy aisle at Ralphs and I had a new television set in my room.

I could escape my parents. Finally. I was free to watch whatever shows I felt like, decorate my TV however I wanted (which was basically just Harry Potter stickers) and with my handy-dandy, built-in VCR, I could record the “analrapist” antics which sprouted from extraordinarily peculiar head of Mitch Hurwitz.

If I haven’t made it clear enough, this show was the crux of my early adolescence. Perhaps more than my friends (sorry guys) and more than the science fiction porn I found in my parents’ closet, “Arrested Development” became my guide to life beyond childhood. When it ended, tragically before its time was due, I may have cried. The tears may have been severe allergies. You’ll never know the truth. But, I held hope for the prophecy Ron Howard offered in the final scene — the possibility of a movie.

Over the years, I haven’t developed much from my 13-year-old state and neither has the prospect of this coveted film. So, when Hurwitz announced this past weekend that not only was the film imminent, but that there would be a short reprisal of the series beforehand, I flipped my shit. This is the best headline I’ve heard since a drunk, Swedish moose got stuck in a tree last month. I would love more. Who wouldn’t? But maybe “Arrested Development” should remain as it was, as I’ve remained 13 — eternally youthful and in love with ice cream sandwiches.

Contact Jessica Pena at 


OCTOBER 05, 2011