Tue. January 22
Arrested Development: Too Cliché to Like?
It’s back and finally there is even an official start date: this upcoming May, streaming on Netflix. I am talking about, of course, the comeback of the critically acclaimed show Arrested Development. The show originally aired on Fox from 2003-06, and despite dismal ratings due to an extremely small fan base, in 2007 Time listed it as one of the 100 greatest TV shows of all time. It’s hard to underestimate the excitement for a segment of TV viewers who have been waiting seven years now to the show actually making a comeback–renowned TV critic Alan Sepinwall actually posted a live blog of the show’s panel at the Television Critic’s Association a few weeks ago.
I have a kind of love-hate relationship with Arrested Development that is unlike any other show I have ever watched. When I subscribed to Netflix in 2007, season 1 of Arrested Development was the first show or movie on my queue. At the time I had started hearing amazing things about the show from a few friends and within three weeks I had watched every episode from the series. It was amazing. Even as a die-hard Seinfeld fan, I left feeling confident that this show was the greatest comedy of all time. It had all the laugh-out-loud jokes plus numerous layers of context and nuance that made the jokes even better.
Like The Wire, Arrested Development came out at a strange time. It was a bit early for the DVR takeover of TV viewership but was perfectly timed for the Netflix and DVD box set craze. Also like The Wire, Arrested Development became a show that people loved to say they had seen and loved to encourage everyone else to–“You haven’t seen it, oh you have to!” A few years after the show was over it would almost be impossible to go to the house of an educated, young, white person and not see the orange box set of the TV show on a book shelf. Watching the show seemed to put you in a special club–seemingly so few people had watched it and if you were one of those people you could feel especially cool and unique.
This sense of being on the “in-crowd” is what makes me feel off about loving the show. As number 38 on the infamous Stuff White People Like list, the humorous post seems to hint at what turns me off, not from the show per se, but from being in the group of people who loves the show. As a thirty-year-old, upper-middle-class, white, educated person, it just seems so cliché. It’s probably the same reason I feel bad about loving HBO’s Girls, which suffered major criticism over its all white cast. When the fourteen new episodes do come out all at once on Netflix in May, I will be forced to confront an unfortunate pairing–thrill over watching a show I love but dread over being one of those people.