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Notebook: Confessions of an 'Arrested' pessimist

By Elliot Alpern, Senior Arts Editor
Published February 15, 2013

Look, I know that the chances are, if you’ve decided to read this article, you’re ready to curse my name. I get it. “Arrested Development,” the cult phenomenon and six-time Emmy winner, is almost universally accepted as a TV classic. Even IGN called it the “funniest show of all time.” Nobody dislikes “AD.”

Except … well, me.

I’m not here to throw low blows at a series commonly understood as one of the best of the decade. And I certainly don’t think that I’m the sane one percent in a world swept away by the Bluths and co. I mean, the cast alone — a pre-fame Michael Cera and an in-his-prime Jason Bateman, along with David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Will Arnett, etc. — is enough to make it worth watching.

To be fair, I don’t really dislike “Arrested.” If friends are watching, I’ll watch with them, often chuckling at some of the same scenes. But, even with Netflix’s archive of “Arrested Development” at my disposal, I’ve never, not once, felt an urge to watch another episode. And that’s after watching more than a season and a half.

I have no idea why the show never appealed to me, when my friends have very correctly pointed out that my other favorite comedies (“Workaholics,” “Archer,” “It’s Always Sunny”) often go hand-in-hand with fans of the resurrected classic. But, for whatever reason, I’ve never felt a connection to any of the characters — not Tobias, Michael or George Michael, consistent hooks with other “AD” watchers.

And let me tell you, it hasn’t been easy living with such an opinion. Early on in my relationship, my girlfriend casually mentioned that she didn’t think she could ever date someone who didn’t like “Arrested Development.” Suffice it to say, I held my tongue.

But after close to a year and a half, I couldn’t quite keep the secret, and we’ve had an unspoken “don’t bring it up” agreement regarding the show ever since. There’s nothing we can do to remedy the situation — it’s her favorite show, and when I’m silent during the “funniest” moments, tension tends to arise.

In fact, even mentioning the thought of writing this article turned into a minor skirmish — not an article that bashed the show, but simply an article admitting I didn’t like it. “Arrested” fans can’t comprehend how it doesn’t appeal, just like I can’t understand how “Workaholics” or “It’s Always Sunny” don’t appeal to larger audiences. We’re all fan-boys of our favorite shows.

The argument is always eerily similar to the Five Stages of Grief, as represented by the mini-argument with my girlfriend.

1. Denial

“Yeah, but how many episodes have you even watched?”

Admittedly, not as many episodes as any other person I’ve spoken with on the subject. But, after a season and a half of no appeal, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not a fan.

2. Anger

“You didn’t want to like it before you even watched it! You’re such a devil’s advocate.”

It’s the exact opposite. I genuinely want to like this show — I don’t want to be the loner at the parties who doesn’t laugh when everyone drunkenly references the show. I’ve even tried to convince myself that I enjoyed it a few times, but in each case, the conviction was only momentary.

3. Bargaining

“Look, I’m sure if you watch another season, you’ll start to like it.”

If you replace “season” with episode, that’s my own post-“AD” mantra. And, unfortunately, the optimism is to no avail.

4. Depression

“Well, I guess you’ll just never like it. And we’ll never be able to talk about it.”

This, above all else, is what I one day hope to change. Maybe as I grow older, some aspect will appeal to a more mature part of me, and I’ll suddenly binge through each season. But, for now, there’s no end in sight.

5. Acceptance

“All right, everything will be OK. We’re just not going to talk about it.”

And we’re back to square one. Except, really, the fifth stage usually turns out to be a fallacy. The acceptance is typically temporary and, then, after a few months:

“Hey, you should try watching ‘Arrested Development’ again! I bet you’ll like it if you give it another shot.”

Maybe, and maybe one day, we won’t go through the five stages again. But, for now, I’m going to try and stay publicly mum on the issue. That, and tell my girlfriend that I scrapped this article in favor of an “Archer” tribute piece.