- SXSW 2014
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT returns to the small screen on May 26, 2013, thanks to a new season produced by Netflix.
This week our Arrested Development Primer turns its attention towards the Bluths. Apples rarely fall far from their trees, or so the saying goes. Find out where most of the crazy comes from.
Last week we talked about the ancillary characters that fill out the world of Arrested Development, but the story would be nothing without the various exploits and misadventures of the Bluth family proper. This week, we’ll talk about the elder Bluths, the aspects of their character that define them, and their best episodes. And now, the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the elder members who had no choice but to keep them all together.
Lucille Bluth (Zap2it)
Lucille Bluth: “I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.”
First appearance: “Pilot”
Best episode: “Spring Breakout”
Lucille Bluth is the alcoholic matriarch of the Bluth family. She is extremely controlling, and unaccustomed to living within her means. Lucille frequently and expertly plays members of the family off one another in order to get what she wants, as she is uncomfortable asking directly. She claims to love all her children equally, but Michael is the only one she seems to respect. She and Lindsay often bicker about Lindsay’s failing marriage, she’s actually said the words, “I don’t care for GOB,” and she is, at turns, Buster’s jailer and his enabler.
She has a complicated relationship with George Sr. and his identical twin brother, Oscar (Buster’s biological father), and is very fickle about which one she’s in love with at any given time. In the series finale, she is arrested when Annyong, the Korean child she drunkenly adopted, informs the SEC that it is Lucille, not George Sr., who was responsible for the family’s illicit operations.
In “Spring Breakout,” Lucille is tricked into going to rehab after she shows up drunk to a Bluth Company function. She had taken some of Buster’s pain medication for a hangover, but mistaken the alcohol warning for an “alcohol suggestion,” leading to one of the better sight gags on the show, her exaggerated wink. After escaping rehab, she challenges George Sr.’s former secretary, Kitty Sanchez, to a drinking contest for a cooler of evidence that could exonerate George Sr., and wins the contest despite drinking in between rounds, after which she checks herself back into rehab. Highlights of hers include her general misanthropy, the yearly mother-son dance she forces Buster to attend with her (Motherboy), and the lengths to which she will go to protect the family, while simultaneously appearing to not care about any of them.
George Bluth, Sr. (Daily Edge)
George Bluth, Sr.: “There’s always money in the banana stand.”
First appearance: “Pilot”
Best episode: “Making a Stand”
George Bluth Sr. is the incarcerated father of the Bluth clan, who may have committed some “light treason” by building homes for Saddam Hussein. It is pointed out several times during the series that, for a supposed criminal mastermind, he is fairly clueless to things happening around him. He attempts to escape prison many times, despite his claim early in the first season that he’s doing “the time of his life,” and eventually succeeds in the second season, hiding in the attic of the Bluth family’s model home.
Like Lucille, he tries to get what he wants by playing the children off of each other, though George tends to use just the boys for his plots, exploiting their insecurities: GOB is desperate for approval from his distant father, Michael wants to prove that George was wrong about him being unfit to run the business, and Buster wants to prove that he exists. As a young father, George used his amputee friend, J. Walter Weatherman, to teach his children twisted lessons about things like leaving notes and not yelling that have stuck with the Bluth kids to this day. After George escapes from prison, he insists that he was set up as a patsy by a British homebuilding company, which turns out to be partly true. As it turns out, the scandal about him building homes for Saddam Hussein was true, but he was set up by the US government to bug the houses.
In “Making a Stand,” George is living in Lucille’s apartment under house arrest. After Michael finds out that George goaded GOB into proposing an illegal business plan, Michael confronts him, and realizes that, like the “Boyfights” tapes he made in their youth, George was once again just playing the boys off of each other in an attempt to make them tougher. Realizing this, the boys make an attempt to be nicer, with Michael even offering to let GOB open his own banana stand. When George once again subverts Michael’s efforts, telling GOB to open one across the boardwalk from the original banana stand, Michael and GOB decide to teach George a lesson with the help of his old friend, J. Walter Weatherman. When George finds out about this plot, he decides to teach them a lesson of his own. When the boys realize they’ve been had, they put their real plan into motion, and Michael briefly fakes his own death. Buster, upset that his family would use a one-armed man to teach each other lessons, fakes the loss of his good hand to teach everyone a lesson about using amputees to teach lessons. All in all, one of the better episodes of the series, and one that is much more difficult to explain than it is to watch. Highlights of George’s include his brief conversion to two different religions while in prison, his invention of the defective “Cornballer,” and his frequent plots to frame his twin brother for his crimes.
GOB Bluth (Netflix/Fox)
George Oscar "GOB" Bluth: “I’ve made a huge mistake.”
First appearance: “Pilot”
Best episode: “Sword of Destiny”
GOB Bluth (pronounced “jobe,” but frequently mispronounced as “gawb”) is the eldest Bluth child, and my personal favorite character. He considers himself a successful magician, though the “successful” part is debatable. He is a founding member of the Alliance of Magicians (their slogan: “We demand to be taken seriously”), from which he was disbarred in the pilot after a reporter revealed the secret of his “Aztec Tomb” illusion on television. Ever since his expulsion, he’s been trying to perform one great illusion to get the Alliance to recognize him as a serious magician, but they always go wrong, and it’s usually his fault.
Aside from his magic, GOB doesn’t enjoy working, and tends to botch even the most menial tasks. Despite all this, he was named President of the Bluth Company in season 2 to appease the shareholders, a constant source of annoyance for Michael. He is an incorrigible womanizer, an ex-stripper, and a natural showman, and all of these things combine to make one of the most entertaining, flamboyant characters in television history.
In “Sword of Destiny,” GOB comes up with the illusion that he thinks will put him back on top of the magic game after buying a “cursed” sword, which he almost immediately cuts himself on. Since he’s still banned from the Alliance, he gets Buster to register as the magician, and pretends to be his assistant. The plan for the illusion is to brandish the sword before quickly swapping it out with a stage sword, which Buster would then “impale” GOB with. Onstage, though, GOB swings the sword and accidentally knocks off Buster’s fake hand, which is a Halloween prop. GOB quickly reattaches the hand, but the crowd believes this to be the illusion. Fellow magician Tony Wonder (an amazing Ben Stiller cameo) is impressed by the “trick,” and asks Buster to perform on his DVD. Outraged, GOB declares that he is the real magician, and they take the stage once more to perform the illusion they’d originally planned. Instead of handing him the fake sword, Buster accidentally hands him the real sword, chopping off two of GOB’s fingers. He has them reattached, but the surgeon accidentally swaps the middle and index fingers. Highlights of GOB’s include his trusty Segway, his ridiculous chicken impression, and his puppet, Franklin Delano Bluth, who later would testify at a mock trial.
Next week: The Fünkes