You may or may not have heard, but today marked the return of Arrested Development season 5 to Netflix … and it’s crazy to think that we’re at this point with the show. Years ago, there would have been clamors for more of the series and waves of enthusiasm to check it out. The first three seasons are considered to be some of the best comedic television in decades, with the right combination of smart writing and great performances. They were representative in some ways of the zenith of mockumentary style television — something that’s been shown off in a wide array of ways including The Office, Modern Family, and Parks and Recreation.
Now, the final episodes of season 5 are here with almost no promotion or attention from major outlets. Because of that, we have to think that this is the series’ way of going out with a quiet thud as opposed to a bang. There are no official plans for an Arrested Development season 6 at the moment and after surveying the landscape, CarterMatt is going to go ahead and put the “unlikely” stamp on its odds of returning — and for a wide array of reasons.
1. The reviews aren’t good – Above all else, a comedy needs to be funny — and to date, the fifth season hasn’t measured up to the success of the other four. While there’s a greater sense of Bluth family unity (something that was lacking from the fourth go-around), Arrested Development has also come under fire for feeling a bit tired and running out of new things to say after so long. Not all of its stories make sense, but that’s probably true for most comedies out there.
What we would say here is just that this is a comedy that’s passed its pop-culture moment — critics aren’t taking to it as they once were, and whether or not that is due directly to the content or off-screen matters, it’s almost irrelevant. The lack of buzz just speaks for itself.
2. Controversy – The thing that stifled all momentum for season 5 to begin with was Jeffrey Tambor’s behavior. First, there was his departure from Transparent, a show that has dropped off the TV map mostly because of reports of off-screen misconduct. Then, there was the infamous New York Times interview where Jessica Walter (who plays Lucille Bluth) spoke about some on-set drama — which apparently included shouting in a way in which she had never heard in her career. The remainder of the cast came under fire specifically for not being sympathetic enough to her story in the interview, expressing almost a willingness to push it under the rug. (Many of the cast members, including Jason Bateman and Tony Hale, have since apologized.)
3. Netflix getting a little mad with power – They’ve basically become the drunk executioner of TV these days, chopping off heads of many a worthy show, let alone one with the baggage that this one has. Netflix just isn’t in the business of continuing to bring back every show they have, especially ones that come from outside studios. (Arrested Development is a project, in part, from 20th Century Fox TV.)
At this point, the best thing for many of these cast members is to wave goodbye to the Bluths and the frozen banana stand in favor of somewhere else. Bateman’s already got another popular show in Ozark, whereas Arnett’s excellence as a voice actor in BoJack Horseman is not getting anywhere near the recognition that it deserves. Of course, Hale is on Veep and the final season of that is premiering later this year.
Despite everything we’ve laid out, are you still hoping for an Arrested Development season 6? If so, be sure to share in the comments — alongside why you’re angling for it. Once there’s more to report, we’ll have it for you here. (Photo: Netflix.)