In the lead-up to the May 26 premiere, groups of friends are sure to argue over who is the biggest Arrested Development fan – but apologies to all members of Magician Alliances, Chris Doty has them all beat. Doty is a creative strategist at Beutler Ink, a research and creative design house. In November, he had an idea to create some kind of visual infograph of every recurring Arrested Development joke, searchable by joke or by episode. Tuesday night, the project, Recurring Developments, went live.
Fans of the extremely self-referential comedy (Her?) know that charting every instance of recurring moments such as “I’ve Made a Huge Mistake” (10 episodes) or “Steve Holt!” (9 episodes) was obviously time intensive. Doty guesstimates he worked between 100-200 hours on the project, alongside a small team at Beutler Ink. “In November we watched it through again and… put all [the jokes] into a database,” he says. “Pretty much everyone who works here is a huge fan, so as soon as info started going into the spreadsheet, it was really a group effort diving in, making sure we had everything, looking for typos.”
The team of about six decided that for a joke to be recurring, it had to occur at least three times over the course of the show. “It’s obviously not quite as interesting to visualize just two things,” he explained. “It’s much more interesting to visual like, Tobias is gay, which happens in almost every episode.”
Once they established the ground rules, Doty got to work. On a week to week basis this winter, Doty would watch a chunk of episodes, take notes, and then spend the weekend logging everything into the spreadsheet. Obsessively re-watching the show made him pick up on some new things: “I think my favorite thing that I don’t think I realized happens as much as it does is that nobody likes Gob. It’s sort of obvious, but it happens a lot. Even the narrator gets in on the action, making fun of him and talking down to him. Nobody likes Gob.”
The site may have launched this week, but Arrested Development mania isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Doty plans to update the exhaustive chart once season 4 is available. Taste the happy!
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