There are pretty much only two reactions to Arrested Development. The first is a confused “I don’t get it.” The second is instant obsession bordering on insanity.
I’m firmly in the obsession camp, so I’ve seen both reactions plenty over the years as I’ve tried to introduce Mitchell Hurwitz’s neurotic, surreal comedy to someone new.
Unfortunately, the “I don’t get it” camp is larger than the obsession camp, which is probably why the show was canceled in 2006 after 3 seasons.
Yet, the obsession camp has been loud enough to get a 4th season on Netflix in 2013, rumors of a film, and yet another season around the corner.
Before that glorious day (rumored to come in 2018), let’s take a deeper look at, assuming you’re an obsession camper and still reading this, your favorite show ever. The real-life inspiration for the Banana Stand, which actor nearly got deported, and how to explain the show to your friends are all below!
It’s Arrested Development.
Ron Howard Wasn’t The Original Narrator
Though Ron Howard’s amiable and all-knowing narration is a key element in every episode of Arrested Development, the actor-turned-director/producer was never intended to play that role. Though Howard produced Arrested Development, he was only filling in on the pilot episode, and when a full series was ordered, they just decided to stick with him.
Howard went on to appear on-screen as a fictionalized version of himself in season 4.
Imagine Fewer Appearances For These Two
Tobias Fünke and George Bluth Sr. were originally written as minor characters who would only make guest appearances here and there. But test audiences loved David Cross and Jeffrey Tambor so much that the show promoted them to regulars.
Also, David Cross was approached for the role of Buster but chose to play Tobias instead. I honestly can’t imagine him as anyone else!
Cross also missed out on another hugely popular show, and it was referenced in Arrested Development. But more on that a few entries down …
In one of the show’s more clever meta-jokes, a photograph of Rita (Charlize Theron) is explained as having been taken pre-plastic surgery. The photo itself shows Theron in makeup as real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos for the 2003 film Monster. The character of Rita is basically just Theron in silly hats, so the difference is jarring. Yet, it never fails to get a laugh from me.
Tobias Wanted To Be Dr. House (So Did David Cross)
When Tobias loses his medical license, he decides to begin a career as an actor. In one episode, he is shown getting a vanity license plate made for every role he auditions for (which are obviously worthless after he loses the part). One of the plates shown is “House.”
This is a reference to the medical drama of the same name, for which David Cross actually auditioned.
Just In Case Michael Cera Gets Deported
The showrunners had a contingency plan in place just in case they lost Michael Cera to deportation. During filming of the pilot, the Canadian Cera had trouble with his work visa that nearly prevented him from finishing his scenes. He ultimately had to venture to Mexico to get his visa renewed or replaced.
Actor Michael Angarano was cast as George Michael just in case Cera never returned!
Another quirky piece of casting trivia featuring a familiar face is located a few entries down!
All About Michael
Ron Howard’s narration begins every episode of Arrested Development, and the first word out of his mouth is almost always “Michael.”
Gob Or Dwight?
I imagine there’s an alternate universe somewhere where Rainn Wilson plays Gob Bluth and Will Arnett somehow winds up in The Office as Dwight Schrute. That could have easily been our universe, since it was down to Arnett or Wilson in the final round of auditions.
There’s Such A Thing As ‘Nevernude’
One of the most hilarious running jokes on Arrested Development is Tobias’ inability to ever be naked. He never goes anywhere without his trusty denim cutoffs beneath whatever he is wearing.
Tobias claims in one episode that there are “dozens” of “nevernudes,” and that may actually be true. “Nevernude” is a real psychological affliction called “gymnophobia,” meaning “fear of nudity.”
The Banana Stand Is Based On A Real Thing
In a somewhat autobiographical touch, the Bluth Frozen Banana Stand is inspired by a cookie business Hurwitz and his brother (also named Michael) started in the 70s as teenagers.
The real-life cookie business was called “The Chipyard” and was funded in part by their father. It was located in a former taco stand in Newport Beach (where Arrested Development takes place).
Hurwitz said that the profits from The Chipyard paid for the brothers’ college educations. I guess there is always money in the Banana Stand.
How Do You Explain This Show?
If you’re an obsession camper trying to introduce someone new to Arrested Development, what do you tell them? How do you explain the show?
There’s so much going on in the show, it’s practically impossible. But Jason Bateman (Michael) has the perfect pitch for you. He described it as “The Royal Tenenbaums shot like Cops.”
Though low ratings led to its cancellation in 2006, Arrested Development endures as one of the most unique cult TV series of all time.
The show definitely has a future, though very little of it is set in stone. Mitchell Hurwitz has long alluded to an Arrested Development film, and Netflix is apparently keen to produce more episodes. Four years after the 2013 Netflix revival, a 17-episode season 5 is scheduled to air.
If you’re in the obsession camp (“There are dozens of us! Dozens!”), please share this article or leave us your thoughts in the comments below!