Arrested Development: Questioning it's Merit

Considering the imminent revival of Arrested Development, I have created this thread in the hopes that it can become both a place for those who do NOT think AD is ‘God’s Gift to TV Sitcoms,’ to bond, get things explained to them, and blow off a little steam, AND for those who DO think AD is the greatest, funniest show on the planet to rebut what those people have to say and of course bond over their unrelenting love of the show.

That being said, I fall into the category of the people who do not really like Arrested Development and think it is vastly over rated by those people who rave about it. Essentially I think this is because the show is just too unbelievable. But in a really really terrible, stupid way.

Ok look, yes, I think that the show is funny in terms of slapstick humor, word play, situational irony, etc. Things like “I blue myself,” or “blah blah blah law blag,” are funny, and if you pay attention and are intelligent you should get those gags, the other meta-humor, and laugh.


If you ARE in fact intelligent and attentive to the show, other serious flaws should pop blazingly out at you. For example, the fact that nearly every part of the show makes absolutely no rational sense. And not just minor details… but entire plot lines, character developments, decisions made by characters, and in aggregate, the way the world works in the fictional reality of AD. Now look, I will agree that a little bit of deviation from reality (bending of the rules) is ok in TV shows because, well, it’s TV! But when everything is based on a world without rules, well shit! It is just stupid!

I am not going to give specific examples because I could go on for days talking about the irrationality of the plot and the characters. But I will say this: It seems to me that the plot of AD is derived from the humor mentioned above, and not the other way around. It is like the writers came up with a clever play on words and then tried to figure out a way to contrive a plot to fit that quip. This is backwards and just kind of lame.

People call this “intelligent humor” or rave about AD being the “smartest comedy,” but I would argue there is nothing overly intelligent about coming up with cheeky quips in a fictional world where anything is possible because the characters are built stupid or selfish enough to do anything (BUSTER, JOB, TOBIAS, LINDSAY, POP-POP, LUCIEL) and the world has no real consequences no matter what they do.

Sometimes it is so dumb (by dumb I mean irrational) I can’t stomach any more of that shit and I puke a bit up into my mouth.

So here is my question… Do people who love this show just not see these flaws that are unfortunately so obvious and frankly cringe inducing to me, and just laugh at the ‘smart’ slapstick humor? Or do they know they are there but chose to ignore them?

(Or am I wrong and these flaws are either non-existant or much less prominent than I believe?)

What—comedy has to be believable???

Well, yes. If you can’t project yourself into a story, character, or situation how can it be really funny you you inherently don’t care at all about it or it doesn’t make logical sense?

You didn’t much care for Airplane! Did you?

I’ve never seen it

Surely you can’t be serious.

See, that’s the kind of comedy I love. Or at least a type of comedy I love. I’ve always been a big fan of absurdist literature, which has more philosophical baggage to it, but elements of that type of writing find itself in AD.

AD has always been love it/hate it. That’s fine. That type of comedy is not going to work for everyone, but for those of us who love it, there’s not that many examples of it. The closest I’ve come to it these days is in Community, which contains many of the elements I loved about AD , but combines it with more sympathetic characters and a slightly more traditional sitcom writing style and character development. I far prefer AD, though.

“I can’t give you one example because there are just so many” is a really terrible excuse. Please support your contention that Arrested Development does not, on a consistent basis, make logical sense (above and beyond any other typical sitcom).

Well for one, the characters in AD come pre-flanderized.

I think we should refer the OP to a good analrapist.

I voted “smart”. Also, it’s “questioning its merit”, but I’ll reserve my vote on the OP.

Surely Funke? I thought she died from BS back in season 1.

AD, like many sitcoms, has a certain level of humor that only certain people enjoy. I, for one, find sitcoms that set up absurd situations, but don’t go as far as AD to be unwatchable trash.

Why? Because it’s a situation that’s on a line that’s still “plausible”, but only just. It’s like the writers are dipping their toes in the pool of “too absurd to be real” but that’s it.

And, to me, most of the traditionally “great” sitcoms seem to fall down this path - Cosby Show, Golden Girls, All in the Family, Friends, etc. And they just don’t tickle my funny bone the way AD does.

I think when AD is referred to as a “smart” sitcom, it’s more that producers/writers haven’t treated their audience like morons. They reference current events, pop culture and even past shows without having to feel the need to explain every detail.

Another bonus: no laugh track. I can not stand laugh tracks.

It’s not that the people who like the show don’t see how ridiculous the world of Arrested Development is. They do, and then they laugh. Because that’s the joke.

Never liked it the first time around, won’t watch the resurrection. The wife, OTOH, is a fan.

Considering it was released 13 years before I was born, unfortunately yes, I am serious. But maybe I’ll watch it! haha

There is a staggering amount of comedic literature, drama and visual media that rejects realistic settings, characters, plotlines or attitudes. You may not find absurdism funny but never make the mistake of thinking that your preferences are rules.

While I’m not a big Arrested Development fan, I reject your premise, aBystander. Realism is overrated, particularly in comedy. The purpose of fiction in general and comedy in particular is to take you out of your mundane world while you’re reading, listening to, or watching it, not to replicate the world that exists. Nobody wants a soi-disant comedy that is entirely true to life but does not make you laugh.

Please do, and then come back and re-read these last few posts. You’ll appreciate them much more.

AD is a farce, the lack of realism doesn’t bother me. In many ways, AD is an exaggerated parody of sitcoms and all of their wacky, contrived situations and absurd characters.

I don’t think that AD is the most brilliant comedy ever made, but I do think it was frequently clever and funny and I’m looking forward to the new episodes.

It’s baffling to me that someone would consider deviation from the expectations of reality to be a significant flaw in television comedy; Arrested Development relies heavily on farce for its humour; by definition, it’s not going to be realistic.

Is Arrested Development smart? Are you kidding me? It is some of the cleverest television ever made. It works on so many different levels, and can be enjoyed exclusively on any one of them, even if half of the stuff goes past the viewer.