As you all know (and you should, if you don’t), we are in a golden age of television. Yes, a TV landscape that includes 4 Kardashian-themed programs can be considered a golden age. One of the biggest influences on the current crop of (non-Kardashian) shows is Arrested Development, the beloved comedy that boosted many careers and kickstarted the “mockumentary” sub-genre.
And soon, Arrested Development will be back on a screen near you, if you have a Netflix subscription. But will it live up to the hype of the desperate fans that pleaded for its return?
The true answer to that I don’t know, as I’m no expert at Divination, but I think I am qualified to make a few predictions. For one, there are jackasses out there that didn’t like the second season of Game of Thrones (“It didn’t follow the booooooooks!” they whined), and others that bitched and moaned about Leslie winning on Parks and Rec (“It’s gonna change things!”). Likewise, there will be some little shits that will hate on the new Arrested Development, about how it’s not as good as it used to be, etc. Those are nerds that will never be pleased, so I’m not worried about that demographic.
But there is one real problem Development faces: we are living in a golden age of television, and some people might just not be so impressed anymore.
Currently I’m reading The Showrunners, by David Wild, a book about TV writers that was penned back in 1999. Wild, a Rolling Stone writer, interviews legendary TV figures like Aaron Spelling, the Bright/Kauffman/Crane team, and my person TV hero Paul Simms. Simms, for one, discusses his time spent writing for HBO’s Larry Sanders Show, which is discussed in the book with such reverence you’d think they were talking about M*A*S*H or Lucy. Marc Maron, comedian’s comedian and host of the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, talks about Larry Sanders with the same incredulousness, that such a show could even exist.
I was too young to have seen Larry Sanders the first time around, but I watched it when I was older and the show hit On Demand (at my parent’s place, of course). And it’s funny. But it didn’t blow me away – nothing I had not seen. Reminded me of 30 Rock, and Extras.
Now, don’t worry, comedy nerds. I get the show. But this is the basis of my argument – time has passed. Since Arrested Development went off the air, we have seen Community, we’ve seen Modern Family, we’ve seen Veep. Hell, The Office feels SO old-hat now, and it experience it’s height of creativity, it’s height of popularity, and later creative downfall, all since Development left the airwaves. When AD was on the air, Amy Poehler was the less famous of the Arnett-Poehler duo. When AD was on the air, Saddam Hussein was still alive!
So what if that happens now? What if we have seen too much to be impressed anymore? AD has a dated format – I hate to bring up Community yet again, but when you have a show parodying shows that parody documentaries, that genre might be a little stale.
Plus, the Arrested Development story ended. The Iraq plot solved itself as best it could, and we knew that the family would never become decent humans, so we were satisfied watching Michael and his son escape into the distance.
As The Showrunners reminded me, history is full of classic TV that overstayed its welcome. That’s really the whole design of the American TV system – play, play, play until it fails.
I was as sad as anyone that AD lasted as briefly as it did. But can’t we just leave a good thing as it was?