Mitch Hurwitz, You Crafty Bastard


I didn’t watch Arrested Development when it originally aired. Though apparently most of the cult following didn’t either, so I don’t feel so bad about that part. What I do feel bad about is that up until a few weeks ago, I had yet to watch all 3 seasons consecutively. I had only seen episodes intermittently, and I think I saw Tobias’ graft-versus-host issues many, many times. I was surprised that he only looked like that for a few episodes. Despite this egregious error, I always found it funny.

So as the Season 4 Netflix release got closer, I was like “Ok, time to watch everything in order.” In my true binge-watching fashion, I finished the 3 seasons in about 5 days. Yeah. It’s really a brilliant show. The way all of the plots are woven together is amazing. Their meta-before-meta-was-cool moments are off the charts hilarious (check out this Vulture article for the top 20). And the cast? The way they all bring those characters to life is freakin’ art.

The Hubbster and I tried to pace ourselves, and watched Season 4 gradually from Sunday to Tuesday. And it did not disappoint. It stayed true to what made it so great in the first place, and developed new plots while winking back to everything that had happened in seasons 1-3 (both stylistically and plot-wise). It only got better with every episode, as the hidden jokes revealed themselves and you saw the whole family’s story coming together. So I tip my hat to you, Mitch Hurwitz. But I also say this: You are one crafty bastard.

I read in an interview that this was to be Act 1 of a larger story, to be followed by a movie or maybe more episodes with Netflix. And there’d better be a damn Act 2, because I have so many questions that will slowly drive me insane if they go forever unanswered.

1. Why is George Sr. acting like a woman? Has someone been slipping him estrogen pills? If so, who? I feel like the only obvious answer is Lucille, but why would she want to be keeping him meek? She didn’t seem very happy with his attitude at Cinco de Cuatro. Is it from the maca root? But then why would it have the opposite effect on Oscar?

2. Where is Lucille 2? Has Sally Sitwell taken her hostage and faked her death so that she can run for office? Sidenote: Liza Minnelli still got it.

3. Where is Herbert Love? We saw Buster karate chop him, but who dragged him away? His campaign manager? Perfecto?

4. What was Gene Parmesan doing at Cinco? Perhaps he was working for Ophelia to get more dirt on her cheating husband. Or was he there for Lucille? Why didn’t she get to see him and scream? That’s one of my favorite running gags…

5. Why isn’t there a ‘Getaway’ ringtone on iTunes? Seriously. I can’t get it out of my head. Someone please get on that. Pronto.

6. Is George Michael really being targeted by Anonymous? And how long is he going to be able to keep this up? Eventually people are going to find out that his app is just a wood block. Maybe P-Hound will hang him out to dry.

7. Is DeBree going to die next to that dumpster? Talk about an express train to Bummertown.

8. What is the fate of Buster? Especially without someone to mother and/or lover him. Will he get the same awesome spa-prison treatment that Lucille did? Will Army take back his giant hand? HOW COME THERE WAS ONLY ONE BUSTER EPISODE?! I feel cheated.

9. Will Tony Wonder be outed as a heterosexual? Or maybe he and Gob will decide to escape to Nantucket and start a candle-making business. I think they’d be really happy together.

10. Will Maeby finally start making better choices post-arrest? Eh. Probably not. But maybe she can sell her story rights and take back her job from Kitty.

Frankly, these only scratch the surface. I am invested in these characters, and I must know how this all plays out. So, to whoever is in charge of financing more episodes and/or a movie: I beg of you. Please. Don’t leave me like this.


4 thoughts on “Mitch Hurwitz, You Crafty Bastard

  1. The two biggest complaints I’ve seen are “It feels weird” and “I don’t like Michael now.” Lots more on the second to come, but regarding the first, I’ll admit it’s an acquired taste. The format hinders the first few episode from being excellent at first blush, but instead rewards viewers further down the road and on second watch. But aren’t the best things in life acquired tastes anyway? That’s how you know you’re being challenged. I’m certain the longer S4 is with us the more it will be compared to S1 than S3.


  2. That’s especially true because these episodes feel interminably long. The Fox show had to clock in at 22 minutes or thereabouts because of ad breaks, but with no commercials on Netflix, the show isn’t organized around act breaks or indeed acts. Without this necessary structure, these episodes drag on, sometimes running at 35 minutes long. Which would be fine, if they were brimming with humor, but these episodes often felt plodding and rudderless, in need of significantly tighter editing. The original Arrested Development had to be inventive in order to get past network censors, wary advertisers, and indeed the format of a half-hour broadcast network comedy. But without those limitations, it feels like Season 4 has run amok, with Hurwitz being able to put seemingly everything on the page into each episode. There’s power to be found in having to choose, and any writer will tell you of the Sophie’s Choice that follows when a story—or episode—runs too long, but tightening most often does strengthen the material.


  3. Yesterday, in proud binge-viewing tradition , I made good on a long-ago promise and consumed the return of Arrested Development on Netflix : 15 episodes, coming in at an average of 35 minutes or so — it took about 12 hours.


  4. And I think that’s why I found Season 4 — thus far, OK, just the three episodes in; I’ll try to be patient — unsatisfying so far: The Bluths are idiots. They’re not just misguided or greedy or egotistical, they seem to be just plain dumb. The George Bluth of the first three seasons would never mistake blueprints of a wall for a monument five miles tall. And Seasons 1-3 Michael was the grounded guy, the straight man who wound up in ridiculous situations because he was trying to set things right. Even Gob came to realize he never should have given up Banana Grabber animation rights.


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