Arrested Development is one of the best comedies in television history, and it almost lost that edge when Netflix rebooted the show for its fourth season in 2013, seven years after its initial cancellation. But season five — released on May 29 — brought that edge back.
Old jokes resurfaced naturally, without feeling gimmicky or forced. Bits regarding the current political climate (and the Bluths’ striking similarity to the Trump family) made the show feel modern and as strong as its competitors.
The show’s youngest stars — Michael Cera, who plays George Michael Bluth, and Alia Shawkat, who plays his cousin Maeby Fünke — carried and brought resolution to storylines that felt awkward in season four, like George Michael’s falsely marketed FakeBlock app and Maeby’s pending status as a sex offender.
Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) was back to her old conniving ways, attempting to get Lindsay Bluth (Portia de Rossi) elected to Congress, and as always, her wit and one-liners made the season. Arrested Development would be nothing without her.
While watching the show, I found it hard to forget the alarmingly uncomfortable New York Times interview that dropped six days before the fifth season. Featuring most of the Arrested Development cast, the interview went viral for Walter’s discussion of the verbal abuse she endured from co-star Jeffrey Tambor on set. Other male co-stars Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, David Cross and Tony Hale jumped to Tambor’s defense.
Walter noted she had to “let go of being angry at him” during the interview, which the cast has since commented on. With one of the strongest performances in season five, she clearly has not lost her inner Bluth or her masterful acting ability.
In season four, the cast seemed disconnected and weak. In season five, the eccentric Bluth family dynamic was strong once again. Their antics were centered around Lindsay’s campaign and related events — such as her opponent’s mysterious disappearance — that intertwined the various storylines.
Executive producer Ron Howard’s characteristically sharp narration and blunt humor was reminiscent of early seasons. He brought the show back down to earth when the politically charged humor hit too close to home or veered too far to the right or left.
Tobias Fünke (Cross) and his once-estranged son Murphy Brown (Saturday Night Live‘s Kyle Mooney) had a bizarre storyline that felt like an afterthought in the writing. This was disappointing, because Tobias is one of the most hilarious characters on the show, but this likely occurred because his character was becoming an afterthought to the rest of the Bluth clan.
Season four made it seem as though Arrested Development was forever changed, but with season five the Bluths we’ve known and loved for years are back in the picture. Despite the on- and off-screen turmoil, this show is still one of television’s greatest.