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Monday, 18 June 2018

REVIEW: Arrested Development just isn’t all that fun anymore


Did anyone ask for this? A fifth season for Arrested Development feels like overkill, and it’s just not really as funny as it used to be. On a fundamental level, I really am not sure that this show works anymore. The series once used to be one of the most inventive and ingenious comedies on TV. In many ways, it was before its time.

But now it feels tired and out of ideas. I’m sure that not everyone will agree, but the Netflix revival of the Arrested Development is increasingly seeming like it was probably a bad idea, and it may be time to finally put it to rest.

One big issue with continuing the Arrested Development revival is that it doesn’t feel relevant or interesting anymore. The world’s moved on from the show but it still sticks around. The jokes here aren’t as sharp or as fresh as they were when it was on the first time around, and the freedom given to it by Netflix means the episodes are often too long and poorly paced, dragging and becoming tiresome.

There’s a lot of behind the scenes drama that appears to have affected the show too, whether it’s Jeffrey Tambor and the sexual harassment allegations that got him fired from the Amazon show Transparent, or how Jessica Walter revealed that Tambor had also verbally abused her during filming on this show. These aren’t things that are easy to put to the back of your mind when you watch Arrested Development, especially if it’s not as funny as it used to be.


Arguably, the fourth season of the show on Netflix was a major misfire. It really affected the perception of the series because so many elements of it were different and didn’t work in the same way as previous seasons. All of the actors found it hard to be in the same place at the same time for filming, and the unorthodox structure damaged the humour and forced the narration to do unwieldy amounts of exposition. When watching the fourth season, it’s difficult to remember just how incredibly good the show used to be back in its excellent early years.

The struggles of the fourth season were so great that it had to recently be recut as a “remix” by series creator Mitch Hurwitz for fans to watch on Netflix. The streaming service has taken down the original version of Season 4 that was first released in 2013, too. People have been saying that the remix of the season is much better than what was there before, but how many fans will really bother to go back and watch it? And Season 5 may be better and funnier because it brings the ensemble back together, but is it enough to fix the damage done by the lacklustre fourth season?



Arrested Development should stand as a warning to fans desperate for their favourite shows to be brought back from the dead. If there’s not a good reason to revive something, it might be best left untouched. Netflix knew there was a built-in fanbase for this and was quick to keep it going, but it is just too far from the show it used to be these days. The members of the Bluth family aren’t as interesting or as funny now, and while there’s still humour here I don’t know that it’s enough to justify keeping this going for yet another season.

Contributed by Simon Cocks
Read more from Simon by visiting What's Simon Seen
Arrested Development is streaming Worldwide on Netflix

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