Arrested Development is a victim and it’s all YOUR fault


Well, I hope you’re happy. You begged and begged. You signed petitions. You wrote emails. You created “buzz” from the ground up. Finally, you got your wish and the powers that be greenlit an Arrested Development season four. Only now it would be released in full on Netflix instant. I bet you were so happy, weren’t you? You probably posted immediately about it to Facebook. You probably didn’t even bother checking your newsfeed to see that 50 of your friends had already beaten you to the punch. It’s not your fault. You were distracted by which clever “inside joke” to use. You decided on Mr. Manager. Yeah, Mr. Manager was pretty funny.

Time seemed to stand still. You would sit there staring at the clock ticking away and it was unbearable to think you still had five months to go before the new season came out. You couldn’t take it! Ugh. You tweeted that exact thing – “I can’t take it! Ugh.” – and all of your friends knew what you meant. You got a ton of retweets.

You poked and prodded. “Did you hear, they’re making a new season of ‘Arrested Development’?” You asked co-workers, cashiers, strangers. “What?!” You’d scream when they said they hadn’t seen the show. You’d make it sound like you were offended, but secretly, you were delighted. You lived for this. Missionaries landing in the New World for the first time must have felt the same way. Finally, some potential converts.

Around a month ago, you noticed a change. Everyone was talking about the new season. Twitter could barely handle the load. All of your favorite blogs were buzzing. Even cable television (yuck!) had promos for it which was weird, like a radio ad for Pandora. Orange was everywhere. So was Jason Bateman. You almost forgot to call off work for the release day and tweeted about it. It got a ton of retweets.

Here’s the debate. Do you “live tweet” it at midnight or should you wait to blog about it after a few episodes? What would Walter Cronkite do? Didn’t journalists back then always carry around a notepad? That was like livetweeting, right? You decide to livetweet. Let the bloggers get scooped.

You read somewhere that the premiere would account for roughly 5% of Netflix’s total bandwidth. This was bigger than the moon landing. You felt ready. All day you had prepared. If the power went out during the show you would kill yourself. You tweeted that. No retweets. They’re probably all getting ready for the premiere.

It begins and it’s all there. The whole gang. The music. The familiar atmosphere of a night spent with the Bluths. But then a joke doesn’t hit. You begin to wonder what happened. You tweet. Your facebook is refreshing increasingly pessimistic views on the season. Someone you went to high school with writes “This new Arrested Development blows”. You are worried he’s right. You tweet that you didn’t like the first episode and a few of your friends favorite it.

You want the old show back. That’s all you ever wanted. You want to be seven years younger, sitting alone in your studio apartment relishing every witty inside joke. Now it just seems like some show. You want it the way it was. Jason Bateman seems a lot more tired. Everyone seems slightly less fresh faced. This isn’t what you signed up for. Not to mention, you can’t figure out any of the inside jokes. They are all so new. Where are the old ones? You begin to worry that maybe you aren’t an Arrested Development expert any more. Now you’re just watching the show like everybody else. You’ve lost the ability to identify potential converts. They’ve all seen the episodes by now. They are just like you, and even worse, you’re just like them.

What were you thinking? Did you expect this to live up to your nostalgia laced fever dream? That’s a laugh. It was never going to. Even worse, the show was out of your control from the second it got picked up. The writers could do whatever they wanted with it and you’d just have to sit here and watch it. It would never be as safe as those first three seasons sitting comfortably in a box set in your TV stand. It was going to make things different.

It might even take time to fully grasp the show. What if it takes seven years? What if you aren’t able to livetweet? How are you supposed to consume this? There’s no manual on how to digest a show that isn’t meant to pass through you in seconds. You’re used to television that passes from eyes to finger tips as fast as the nerve impulses will allow. Now, you feel full after a half hour. You feel bloated and tired. You begin to wonder why you ordered this at all. You didn’t even want this. It was too much, you weren’t ready. Or maybe you were past ready.



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