Arrested Development‘s Season 5 Trailer Is Here and I Don’t Know What I Expected

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The Bluths are back, but I’m not convinced that’s anything to throw a boat party about.

Arrested Development was once a truly great show that met its end too swiftly. Weird, quirky, and far more cerebral than the average network TV fare, it won the 2003 Emmy for Best Comedy before being canceled in its third season in 2006.

Many of us mourned its loss at the time, and we kept the dream alive by buying DVD season sets and forcing our friends to watch them. The age of streaming let the show find new audiences, and it’s never quite faded from the cultural zeitgeist, with most of its cast going on to further fame and memorable roles.

Arrested Development grew a cult following after its death and a sort of mythos around it that was bigger than the series itself. Maybe that’s why expectations were so high when it was revived by Netflix for a fourth season in 2013. The least said about the fourth season, which fell mostly flat, the better. It’s hard not to feel that the original Arrested Development captured lightning in a bottle and that now it feels like they’re holding a lightning bug.

The biggest elephant in the room is the continued inclusion of Jeffrey Tambor as patriarch George Bluth Sr., and the cast’s tacit support for him after the actor was fired from Transparent following allegations of sexual harassment. (The Hollywood Reporter just published a largely sympathetic, softball profile of Tambor—”His is a dizzying tale entangled in Rashomon-like perspectives and political trip wires”—if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing.) Alia Shawkat, who plays Maeby, is the only member of the cast to say that she “supports the voices of the victims.” Tambor is an excellent actor, no one is arguing otherwise, but it feels strange and a bad precedent in our #MeToo era to see him featured in what is supposed to be a light-hearted family environment.

Then there’s the problem of this trailer. As Dan Van Winkle noted, it plays “more like a remix of the original series’ greatest hits than its own thing.” There’s something that feels off about it, in the same way that season 4 felt off. We see cuts of some of the series’ greatest jokes and bits—”I’ve made a huge mistake,” Lucille/loose seal, Tobias’ blueing, G.O.B. being G.O.B—perhaps to remind us why we once loved Arrested Development so much in the first place, but not much about the upcoming season, which hits Netflix on May 29th.

As for season 5, what we learn is that Lindsay is running for political office—the storyline I’m most hopeful will be able to inject some biting contemporary commentary—and that the Bluths are winning an award for family of the year, which is, of course, the biggest joke of them all. Tobias seems to be shadow-acting Michael, which has the potential to be funny, but it’s hard not to feel like the time for this schtick has passed. And as I shall one day elucidate in a TED Talk, Michael continues to be the absolute worst of them all.

Are you always in the mood for more Arrested Development, or is it time to let the Bluths retire to a nice model home in the country?

(image: Netflix)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.