Arrested Development is a comedy series that first debuted in 2003. It was highly acclaimed by critics, but it had poor viewership and was barely holding on for most of its run. The show lasted for three seasons before it was sadly canceled.
Those who watched Arrested Development quickly realized that it was one of the best comedy shows ever made. It may be the only show that can go toe-to-toe with The Simpsons in terms of humor and quotability and come out the victor.
Luckily, the way in which entertainment was consumed has changed since then, and Arrested Development grew a huge cult audience that wanted the show back on the air. Netflix stepped in and brought Arrested Development back to our screens in 2013.
We are here today to look into the bizarre story of the Bluth family and their insidious effect on show business.
From their connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the upcoming storyline in the fifth season that had to be canceled, here are the 15 Things You NEVER Knew About Arrested Development.
15. The Bluth Stair Car Had A Cameo In Captain America: Civil War
Arrested Development was a highly acclaimed show that didn’t have enough viewers to justify its cost. The creators of the show (and most of the cast) have attributed this to the fact that Fox wasn’t factoring in DVR views into the audience for the show and that it was actually popular enough to defy a cancellation.
While Arrested Development was canceled, it managed to inspire a cult following that led to its revival. The staff who worked on the show also kept love in their heart for the Bluth family, as was the case with the Russo brothers. They had directed several episodes of Arrested Development and would later go on to film the last two Captain America movies for Marvel.
If you take a close look at the airport during the big fight sequence in Captain America: Civil War, then you can spot a Bluth Company stair car among all of the other vehicles in the building.
14. Nellie Was Played By Jason Bateman’s Real Sister
Arrested Development is a show that is filled with incest references. The only show that features more incest is Game of Thrones, and that had a finale where a nephew has intimate relations with his aunt.
The third season of Arrested Development decided to take the incest humor and use it to beat down the fourth wall. In “Family Ties”, Michael believes that he has another sibling named Nellie and gets in touch with her.
He doesn’t realize that she is a prostitute that is used by his father. Michael and Nellie grow closer, which culminates in Nellie telling him how attractive he is. This is revealed to be a setup, however, as she is secretly working for Gob (who is her pimp).
The role of Nellie was played by Justine Bateman, who is Jason Bateman’s real life sister. The two of them spent most of the episode in mildly romantic situations, which culminates in Michael asking Nellie to marry him. This is true commitment to a joke on behalf of the Bateman siblings.
13. The Bluths Are Based On The Corleone Family From The Godfather
Mitch Hurwitz has stated many times that the reason that the main character is called Michael is that it is an intentional shout-out to The Godfather. It seems that this reference goes a lot further than a single name, though, as the Corleone family could all stand in for the Bluths.
Both main characters names are Michael and they start out on the straight and narrow. The two end up getting dragged into the schemes of the family, though, which eventually corrupts them. The father (George Bluth/Vito Corleone) is the true power behind the family and things go to hell when he becomes incapacitated.
The oldest son (Gob Bluth/Sonny Corleone) is the loud-mouthed womanizer who isn’t suited for the role he inherited. There is the screw-up son (Buster Bluth/Fredo Corleone) and the spoilt sister who has a terrible taste in men (Lindsay Bluth/Connie Corleone).
They are helped by a lawyer who is almost as close as a blood relative (Tom Hagen/Barry Zuckercorn). The sister is married to a man (Tobias Fünke/Carlo Rizzi) who doesn’t love her and actively betrays the family when the opportunity comes along. Two of the younger members of the family are cousins who have engaged in an incestuous relationship (George Michael & Maeby/Vincent & Mary).
12. The Show Was Sued By A Band Called Arrested Development
It seems that Mitch Hurwitz and the other creators of Arrested Development weren’t big fans of early ’90s hip-hop. If they were, then they would have known to have called their show something else.
Arrested Development is a band that had several hits in the early ’90s. They topped the U.S. Dance charts in 1992 with “Mr. Wendall” and broke into the top ten the same year with “People Everyday”. Arrested Development is still active as a band, as they continue making music and touring to this day.
In 2003, Arrested Development (the band) sued the producers of Arrested Development (the TV show) over the use of the name. The case was settled in court, with both parties allowed to use the name.
Arrested Development would make several references to this case throughout the show. One example of this happens in “Public Relations”, where a newspaper headline states that a band is suing a restaurant over the use of a name.
11. The Story Of How Tobias Lost His Medical Licence Actually Happened
The first episode of Arrested Development reveals that Tobias was once a respected psychoanalyst and therapist (or Analrapist, as his position came to be known) and earned a lot of money at his position.
He later lost his medical license when he attempted to perform CPR on a man who was only sleeping. This led to Tobias losing his job and having to look for a new career. At the end of the first episode, he decides to seek out a career in acting, which he pursues through the remainder of the series.
The idea of someone attempting CPR on a sleeping person might seem like an idiotic plot device (especially when done by a medical professional) but it actually happened. Mitch Hurwitz revealed that he did know someone who lost their medical license for performing CPR on someone who was asleep, which inspired the creation of Tobias and his role in the show.
10. Fox Wanted A Contractual Obligation To Make The Show Simpler
Arrested Development is a show that benefits from multiple viewings. Storylines that wouldn’t happen for years (and might never have happened if the show had been canceled) were referenced as early as the first episode. It’s a show that rewards concentration and an eye for detail.
The people at Fox weren’t happy with Arrested Development and its brand of humor. They preferred shows with relatable protagonists– not a family full of self-absorbed rich people. Fox wanted laugh tracks and punch lines, not a slow build or jokes that could only be seen by pausing the screen at certain times.
Mitch Hurwitz often bore the brunt of Fox’s wrath. The executives actually wanted him to sign a contract that would agree to make the show around 20-30% easier to understand. He refused this deal. How Fox would have quantified or enforced such a contract remains a mystery.
9. David Cross Had To Fight For Tobias’ Moustache
David Cross was asked to audition for Arrested Development due to the creators being familiar with him from Mr. Show. He was originally asked to audition for either Buster or Gob.
Cross knew that he wouldn’t be able to play those characters effectively, so he pushed to play Tobias, who was originally intended to have a much smaller role. This was also the case with George Senior, who became more important to the story when Jeffrey Tambor impressed the creators of the show.
The most controversial aspect of Tobias’ character wasn’t the fact that he was an Analrapist: it was his facial hair. The president of Fox tried to stop David Cross from sporting a mustache on Arrested Development, which paused production on the first day as they tried to sort the issue out.
8. Ann Was Going To Be Played By A Different Actress In Each Episode
Mae Whitman has become closely associated with the role of Ann Veal, George Michael’s first romantic interest, in Arrested Development. The average viewer of the show probably isn’t aware of the fact that Ann was originally played by a different actress. Alessandra Torresani played Ann for a single episode in the first season of the show.
Mitch Hurwitz has revealed that he originally wanted Ann to be played by a different actress in every episode that she appeared in. This was supposed to give the audience the same reaction that Michael had every time he didn’t recognize her. The role was given to Mae Whitman, as she impressed the producers of the show so much with her performance.
The idea of a character being played by different actresses accidentally happened with Marta Estrella. She was originally played by Leonor Varela, who had to leave due to scheduling issues. Marta was then played by Patricia Velasquez for the remainder of the first season.
7. The Cast Of The O.C. Almost Appeared In The Show
One of the recurring jokes in Arrested Development involves someone using the term “The O.C.” This joke refers to a couple of different things, such as the fact that referring to Orange County as “The O.C.” was looked down upon by people who actually lived there and was seen as someone referencing the TV show of the same name.
The real meaning behind the joke was that Fox had a show called The O.C. which debuted the same year as Arrested Development. The O.C. was a huge success for Fox and it received a lot of promotion and support from the network. This rankled the creators of Arrested Development, who decided to get a few sly digs in on the competition.
The creator of The O.C. bore no ill will towards Mitch Hurwitz or Arrested Development. Despite this, he refused a proposition from Hurwitz to have some of the actors from The O.C. appear on Arrested Development, as he felt that would be taking the joke too far.
6. The Mr. Roboto Scene Was A Reference To A Commercial
Arrested Development loved to reference the earlier careers of its actors. The biggest of these was probably Happy Days, as Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, and Scott Baio all referenced their roles on the show in some capacity. Henry Winkler did the Fonz’s mirror look in one episode while jumping over a shark in another.
Tony Hale had one of the most direct references to his previous work of all of the Arrested Development cast. In “The Ocean Walker”, Buster is dancing to “Mr. Roboto” by Styx. This ends up with him getting his hook caught in the stair car.
The sequence of Buster dancing is a reference to a commercial that Tony Hale did for the Volkswagen Golf back in 1999. He is seen dancing like a robot within a car, but we cannot hear the music. It isn’t until someone else opens the door that we hear “Mr. Roboto” blaring out from the stereo.
5. The Creator Of The Show Wanted Howard Stern & Jerry Bruckheimer To Have Cameo Roles
Arrested Development featured numerous roles and cameos from big name stars. It was hoped that these would be able to help the show get more press and find the audience that it so rightly deserved. Actors like Ben Stiller and Charlize Theron appeared in the show, which sadly granted it no extra credibility.
Mitch Hurwitz once did a Reddit AMA in 2013 where fans asked him questions about his career (but mostly about Arrested Development). One of the questions Hurwitz was asked concerned the celebrities he wanted on the show and tried to get on.
He claimed that he tried to get the radio DJ Howard Stern on the show in some capacity, but was unable to convince him to come. This is surprising, as Howard Stern uses the “Hey Now” catchphrase that was popularized by Jeffrey Tambor on The Larry Sanders Show, yet even the presence of the man who played Hank Kingsley wasn’t enough to secure the shock jock.
4. Gob Is Based On A Character From A Cult UK Comedy Film
The role of Gob Bluth helped to propel Will Arnett to stardom. He has now cornered the role on bombastic blowhards in Hollywood. This is especially true for animated shows, as Will Arnett found roles in shows like Bojack Horseman, The Simpsons, and King of the Hill. He has also stripped the role of Batman from Ben Affleck and has become the definitive Bruce Wayne of this generation of movies.
Those who are familiar with British comedy movies will likely recognize the role of Gob, as it was directly inspired by Richard E. Grant’s character in Withnail & I. This is a cult comedy movie from the UK which was highly acclaimed and earned a cult following, much like Arrested Development did.
Withnail comes from a wealthy family, yet he threw it all away to follow a career in acting, which he is currently failing at. He is utterly self-absorbed and convinced that he is the most important person on the planet, which he was no problem broadcasting to the world at large.
3. The Banana Stand Is Based On A Real Business
Despite the Bluth family owning a million dollar company, they still maintain some of their smaller holdings. The smallest of these is the Banana Stand, which sells frozen bananas to people traveling to Newport Beach.
Of all of the aspects of Arrested Development that come from Mitch Hurwitz’s life, this one might hit closest to home. He revealed in an interview that he ran his own cookie business when he was twelve years old.
When Mitch Hurwitz used to stay with his father over the summer, he would bake cookies with his brother and sell them in front of the house. Their father encouraged them to rent a stand near the beach and sell cookies there.
A reporter from the L. A. Times did a news story on them, which made them into a successful business. At the age of twelve, Hurwitz made enough money to pay for the college education for both his brother and himself. It did mean that he was stuck working with ovens during the hot Los Angeles summer, though, which is where the inspiration for the Banana Stand came from.
2. Ron Howard Was Only Supposed To Narrate The Pilot Episode
In many ways, Arrested Development is a spiritual successor to a Ron Howard movie called EDtv, which involved a man creating a reality show of his own life. EDtv was a bomb at the box office, but the idea behind the movie still intrigued Howard.
He eventually approached Imagine Television with the idea for a show that was filmed like a reality program but was actually scripted. This was the seed that led to the creation of Arrested Development.
When the pilot episode of Arrested Development was being filmed, Mitch Hurwitz convinced Ron Howard to be the narrator. This was only supposed to be a one-off gig, as Howard felt that his involvement with the show was over at that point.
Hurwitz wanted to keep him around as a regular cast member because he felt that Howard’s presence would offer the show some star power and security in the face of cancelation. His gambit worked and Howard was impressed enough by the first episode that he stuck around for the remainder of the show’s run.
1. Season 5 Will No Longer Feature A Transgender Storyline Involving George Senior
The fourth season of Arrested Development ended on a dark note. It appears that Lucille 2 has been murdered and all of the main characters have a strong motive for wanting to kill her. The plot of the fifth season seems to be based around solving the mystery of what happened to Lucille 2.
There is one storyline that we know for sure won’t be appearing in the fifth season of Arrested Development and it involves George Bluth. The last time we saw George, he had no testosterone left in his body and was preparing to live his life as a woman.
George’s fifth season storyline was originally going to involve him living as a trans woman. This has now been changed, due to the fact that Jeffrey Tambor is also playing a trans woman in Transparent. Mitch Hurwitz has now changed this storyline to something different because he didn’t want to just do a repeat of Transparent with the same actor performing in a similar role.
Can you think of any other fascinating facts about Arrested Development? Let us know in the comment section!
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