Life isn’t fair. In the extra time you spent helping an old lady across the street, your parking meter expired and you got a ticket. Or you worked your pants off all day, only to have your boss walk by at the one moment you took your pants off as a joke. Or you’re a Cubs fan.
Life isn’t fair … except this time. Because one of TV’s most revered 21st-century series, Arrested Development — the show that took dysfunctional-family comedy to brave, brilliant heights for three seasons before being canceled by Fox in 2006 — is actually, really, swear-to-God-no-joking coming back. Thanks to those 140-decibel prayers from that ever-growing legion of fans, at least 10 new episodes — which will bring us up to date on the antics of the Bluth family — are being filmed as you read this, and they will debut on Netflix in the spring, all at once. (Clear your schedules accordingly.)
Call this what you will — a second chance, a rebirth, even a renaissance — but the folks who’ll be stepping back into the stair car and $3,000 suits are keenly aware that the pop culture universe doesn’t normally course-correct so dramatically to right TV injustices. ”It feels like playing with house money, that somebody else is paying for us to throw a reunion party and come back together and laugh again,” marvels Jason Bateman, who plays Michael Bluth, the reasonable, smart one. ”It’s like waves and waves and waves of gratitude, because it’s truly an experience like no other,” echoes Will Arnett, a.k.a. boastful illusionist Gob. You also may be pleased to know that this reunion is being treated as much more than a rest-on-your-laurels regurgitation of past comedy glories, according to Arrested creator/mastermind Mitchell Hurwitz: ”It feels like fortune. At the same time, we all feel a sense of responsibility. One of the things that was fun about announcing that we were going to do all these episodes was that nobody was expecting it. The fans were asking for a movie, and we came back and said, ‘Well, we’ll give you even more.’ But the rest of that thought is ‘And we can’t disappoint them.’ Which, I’ll be honest, takes some of the fun out of it.”
The actors weren’t disappointed the first time they reconvened for a scene, set in the penthouse occupied by boozy matriarch Lucille (Jessica Walter). ”We all walked onto the set and we just sat around and stared at each other, and it was surreal,” marvels Portia de Rossi, who plays selfish activist Lindsay. ”It just felt like time had kind of collapsed in on itself. I understand that there is no time or space in quantum physics. That was the first time I really felt it. Everybody looked exactly the same and they acted exactly the same, both in character and in between takes. Body language was the same, the same old jokes, the same old eye rolls. It was really amazing.”
Many things on the new Arrested won’t be the same old, though. ”We’re trying not to do greatest hits,” cautions Hurwitz. ”I’m trying to resist just giving the fans what they know. That will be fun in the short term, but I don’t think it’ll be nourishing.” He won’t spill too many beans about our fallen, self-consumed Bluths — who were last seen being chased by the feds (Lucille), heading to Cabo (Michael, George Michael, and George Sr.), and pitching a show about the family to Arrested’s narrator, Ron Howard (Maeby). ”Things have gone very badly for them in every way — sexually, biochemically, ” teases Hurwitz, who is plotting the new episodes on Netflix to serve as a precursor to a not-yet-greenlit Arrested movie. ”They’ve destroyed the environment, the environment has destroyed them…. There are a lot of ostriches. I would describe this season of Arrested as being bird-heavy.” Adds Arnett: ”Left to their own devices, these people always become the very worst versions of themselves. And they were left to their own devices once again, and they didn’t disappoint. So you’re going to find them in the most magnified states of disrepair. They made increasingly bad choices, and it’s a snowball effect.”
Underneath that avalanche of comedy, the sun is shining brightly on these Orange County misfits. ”It’s certainly a good thing for television,” says Bateman. ”When an audience really likes something — whatever size that minority is — at least we now know you can be a vocal minority and actually get something done. If a show that you really love went off the air, it’s nice to know if you keep banging the drum enough, it can come back. It’s nice to be a part of that.” An equally humbled Hurwitz knows that all of the excitement is tethered to yacht-size expectations, so for now he’ll steer clear of declaring victory for the little guy. ”Well, the fans did ask for it, so I think that’s an important element. It really puts a lot of the blame on them,” he quips. ”In fact, ‘You asked for it’ isn’t a bad slogan for us. Or ‘Blame America first’… That’s not bad either. And it’s what the Bluths would do.” We’re going to go out on a limb and say it: The Bluths are back. And they’re bringing a bunch of birds. Weird has won. Life is good.