Netflix has officially ordered a fifth season of the zany, humorously labyrinthine, ending-resistant comedy series, Arrested Development. After nearly a decade of arrested… Arrested Development, the show was resurrected on Netflix in 2013, experienced a weird, deliberately (but still not completely laudably) disjointed revival, and then seemed to disappear again. But last weekend, the tittering turned to twittering when Jason Bateman announced on social media that he’d signed on for more episodes. Then, Wednesday, Netflix made their official announcement that the show had been renewed, with the series’ creator, Mitch Hurwitz, revealing, “We all felt that stories about a narcissistic, erratically behaving family in the building business — and their desperate abuses of power — are really underrepresented on TV these days.”
Since the Bluths’ lives are prone to all sorts of fast, fanciful disaster (and since Season 4 was, itself, something of a disaster, albeit with occasional flashes of genius), we thought it’d be a fun exercise to speculate on what might have become of the Bluths since that season ended. This is, of course, a completely futile exercise, since nearly anything can happen on this show; as ridiculous as my own guesses might be, Hurwitz will surely top them. That said, we have until 2018 to speculate, so it’s inevitable that fans will be at least mentally engaging in this act of futility as they await answers. So without further ado, here’s what’ll happen to the Bluths… according to Flavorwire, anyway.
If Arrested Development decides to address Trumpism, which is a really hard thing for shows to do well, but also a hard thing for them not to do at all — one of the many artistic dilemmas of living in shitworld! — they might consider the fact that the last season of the series was oddly prescient, in that Lucille and George’s plot surrounded an inflated, then very deflated, plan to build a border wall.
Now that “border wall” has become the fraught, hateful American symbol du jour (well, du year or du whole presidency), as well as a symbol of Trumpian bloviating and ineptitude, this major plotline — which wasn’t exactly concluded — suddenly feels like something a showrunner might want to revisit, or at least reference. The dilemma: if a show doesn’t get the satire just right, then it risks exploiting a serious, poisonous issue for cultural relevance! Shitworld! Dilemmas!
The money/power/booze hungry Lucille Bluth certainly wouldn’t be above profiting from a shamefully wasteful, exorbitantly expensive symbol of xenophobia; she was already trying to do just that for much of the pre-Trump season. But if you recall, the Bluths of course feared, towards the end of the season, that their little wall project would devalue the Mexican land they own, and thus eventually tried to stop it from being built. So could this season, in the midst of wall-oriented fervor, see Lucille Bluth actually becoming part of the resistance movement? (Out of self-interest, of course.) Will the ultra-privileged Lucille take to the streets, martini and picket sign in hand, and use her platform and money for Good… in order to exploit Good for Gain?
George Bluth, Sr.
George Bluth, Sr. already has a doppelgänger in the character of his crunchy pony-tailed twin, Oscar; the show has delivered many twists and turns with classic twin mixup plot lines. But in the years since the last season of Arrested Development, George/Oscar actor Jeffrey Tambor has become known for a more robust, nuanced, and just as narcissistic character: Transparent‘s Maura. Alas, with yet another televisual Jeffrey Tambor running around out there — very close by, in adjacent L.A. County! — will George Bluth, Sr. catch news of Maura, yet another estranged sibling? Crazier things have happened on this series than a crossover: imagine a gathering of the Pfeffermans and the Bluths, and the nuclear blast of money and egomania that’d catalyze.
Some crazy part of me thinks his plot line will involve getting annoyed with his family, and sometimes looking aghast and other times looking defeated. Really out-there prediction, I know.
Last we saw, Buster Bluth was arrested for the potential murder of Lucille Austero, his ex-lover, his unwilling surrogate mother figure, and his own mother’s #1 rival. Much of Season 4 revolved around a meta plotline about a movie that Ron Howard (who narrates the series) wants to make about Michael Bluth. After much deliberation from all parties, however, his interest shifts when the murder plot arises, and at the end of Season 4, Howard’s intent is instead to make a movie about Buster’s maybe-crime. Since this show is already on Netflix, the best option for Season 5 would be to focus the whole thing within a true crime documentary format, à la other Netflix series like Making a Murderer or The Keepers — spoofing the form and its odd mixture of entertainment, social potential and ethical conundrums. I’d love to see a sustained season of Arrested Development through this lens.
Lindsay Bluth Fünke
Last we saw, Lindsay was embroiled in an odd political love triangle — sleeping with the Conservative politician Herbert Love, while being whatever random kind of activist she might choose to be from day to day. Her most recent spate of activism was environmental, because she’d been sleeping with an ostrich farm owner/radical environmentalist named Marky Bark, who just so happened to be trying to sabotage Love (w/ glitter!). She emerged from the end of that maze of government, glitter, and gonads as a Republican Congressional candidate.
It’d be quite fitting for Lindsay to go full Breaking Bad/Veep in the next season: she has always been the shallowest of #caring people, but now that shallowness could be directed in the opposite direction, towards legit ill will. This would provide a funny, biting trajectory for her character — she could become another ideologically devoid politician who knows how to use language emptily for personal gain. An inversion of #activist Lindsay as an anti-environmentalist figure overseeing pro-environment organizations, à la Scott Pruitt, would be particularly fitting.
Last season, Tobias put on Fantastic Four: The Musical. Whatever fate befalls him in the upcoming season, you can assume that he’ll likely be involved in yet another heinous directorial/acting gig. Perhaps, given how little studios seem to care about the quality of their actual superhero movies (like Fantastic Four), Tobias will get a $150+ million budget thrown his way by DC to make a really brooding movie about the Red Bee, the superhero in a bee suit who fights Nazis. [I’d watch that — Bee Ed.] Or maybe he’ll get a gig rebooting a comedy series that was better left as it was.
Now an accidental sex offender, Maeby will be the star of a tangential side episode in the aforementioned Buster-centric true crime documentary that I really want from this season; the episode will use her in an attempt to perform a psychological investigation into the criminal history/minds of the Bluth family, and how that history has been passed down by the particular shortcomings of Bluthian parenting. The episode’s existence will be particularly contentious for Maeby, as the producers of the documentary will be the people who fired her from Imagine Entertainment so many years ago — a career low that led her to her current, erm, situation. In order to escape the stigma surrounding her, she’ll have to fully give into the Featherbottom identity she adopted from her father last season, by pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman based vaguely on Mrs. Doubtfire.
George Michael Bluth
He’ll have to contend with the recent untimely death of his accidental namesake and accept that it’s always been on the cards for him to become a pop star.