"Arrested Development" Was The Best TV Satire of the Bush Era

Mother Jones

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Arrested Development is finally (for real this time) coming back. On May 26 at exactly 12:01 a.m. PDT, the series’ fourth season will debut exclusively on Netflix, the on-demand streaming service that on any given weeknight accounts for nearly a third of Internet traffic in North America. It’s a hotly anticipated premiere that fans are praying will not crash the website.

This TV series—about a spoiled family wading through a glut of personal, financial, and international scandal—occupies a place in popular culture that few other shows have managed to reach. Fans have even witnessed Arrested Development burrow itself into Western politics. In March 2011, before NATO forces launched an air war that would help topple Moammar Qaddafi‘s mass-murdering regime in Libya, The New Republic ran a fantastic slideshow comparing the notorious Qaddafi family to Arrested Development‘s Bluth clan. During a speech this month in the House of Commons of Canada, opposition leader Thomas Mulcair quoted a famous episode of Arrested Development while criticizing the prime minister for over $3 billion in unaccounted anti-terrorism funding. And as the series revival neared, Republicans started dropping Arrested Development references to ridicule the Affordable Care Act, Democratic leadership, and the Obama administration.

The series has also found its way into the syllabi of college courses, and onto the pages of academic essays. “The writers worked miracles addressing philosophical and social issues,” says J. Jeremy Wisnewski, an associate professor of philosophy at Hartwick College who served as a volume editor on the book Arrested Development and Philosophy. “To see the way race, gender, sexual orientation, and class are handled in the show is to witness genius at work.”

There’s something else the show handled so well that’s often taken for granted: During its original run on Fox from 2003 to 2006, the series delivered what was arguably the sharpest satire of the Bush era and the Iraq War that has ever been broadcast on television.

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"Arrested Development" Was The Best TV Satire of the Bush Era

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