By Arturo R. García
Like a lot of people this holiday weekend, I powered through all 15 episodes of the fourth season of Arrested Development. (Apparently I’m one of just 10 percent of viewers who finished the whole run by sundown. I don’t know if this is an honorific or a red flag.)
And as it turns out, there’s quite a bit to go through as regards the series’ treatment of people who aren’t the Bluths. But I want to try something a little different from our open threads — I’d like to crowd-source some reactions to some of the various depictions we saw this year. Spoilers and general guidelines under the cut.
So throughout the course of the season we saw:
- A group of Asian and Asian-American characters, who ranged from George-Michael’s roommate “P-Hound” being presented as being as “normal” as the average Bluth — remember, in this show’s universe, just about everybody is an Awful Person — to China Garden and the three “Real Housewives” veering closer to stereotypes. And then there’s the Mongols.
- Terry Crews playing a barely-disguised take on Herman Cain, while Garcelle Beauvais played his estranged wife, who briefly hooked up with Buster.
- India, as a country and culture, acted as a vehicle through which to chide Lindsay and Tobias’ respective delusions (as well as Eat, Pray, Love), and as a work stop for Maeby. Interesting to note that the characters the Funkes encounter on their journeys are primarily played by former members of the cast of Outsourced.
- U.S. foreign policy was the subject of a brief gag involving Buster’s foray into becoming a drone pilot (“Take that, Taliban wedding!”).
- There were various references to “The Mexicans,” as both the target of Lucille’s well-established racism and the focal point of her latest machinations with George Sr., who buys land he thinks is close enough to the border to put up a wall to “keep them out,” only to discover that the land is actually in Mexico, thus forcing the unhappy couple to try to scuttle the project. While still getting paid, of course. But we never actually see any Mexicans opposing the plan. The “blowback” to Lucille’s “Cinco de Cuatro” celebration, blamed on Mexicans, actually comes from the aforementioned Mongols.
- This isn’t race-specific, but: while the original series spent a large amount of time poking fun at Tobias’ gender presentation, Season 4 seemed to veer away from that (explicitly calling it a “running gag” within the family) in favor of showing his tendency toward exploiting someone. The tell-tale line in his story, for me, came when he told DeBrie, “I believe you can do anything I tell you to.” Yet at the same time, we saw GOB experience something depicted as actual emotions toward Tony Wonder, culminating (off-camera) in a sexual encounter. Now, how this story was presented is certainly up for discussion, Will Arnett played the final shot of GOB realizing Wonder had taken a “forget me now” after their night together with an undeniable sadness.
- Meanwhile, George Sr. found himself feeling “more sensitive,” leading to him grabbing Lindsay’s discarded red wig and declaring, “This feels right” after donning it.
- Now, rather than the usual Open Thread, I’d like to collect reactions from members of these various communities to lay out in a Roundtable format a week from today. If you’d like to contribute, just reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous comments, or comments using an alias, are also in play here.