Arrested Development TV Poster Image

Arrested Development



Brilliant, innovative comedy for mature viewers.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's an underlying current about the importance of family, but most of those family members are just as likely to demean or manipulate one another as they are to help or support one another. Selfishness, greed, obliviousness, and shame are some of the main motivators here ... all played for laughs, of course.

Positive role models

Michael is presented as the Bluths' moral center, but even he can be dismissive of or hard on his family members in certain circumstances. Probably the most empathetic, likeable character is his son, George Michael. The other Bluths are by turns greedy, selfish, rude, criminal, oblivious, ignorant, or all of the above. They're not intended to be viewed as role models. Jokes are made at the expense of minority groups.


Some comic pratfalls/slapstick (for instance, one character sports a hook after he loses his hand in a freak accident involving a seal).


Plenty of innuendo, discussion of sexual activity, and subtly explicit jokes. Kissing and groping. Characters shown partially clad in bed (sex implied but not shown). One minor character repeatedly pulls up her shirt to reveal her chest, but it's blurred out.


Casual use of words like "damn," "hell," and "bitch," plus a fair number of bleeped words.


Some intentional references to brands/products (including HBO and Showtime).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character is an alcoholic who also takes prescription drugs recreationally. Other characters drink/get drunk occasionally. Some characters smoke -- particularly Lucille.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that despite its comedic brilliance and excellent cast, Arrested Development isn't age appropriate for younger kids. The show features mature issues like lying, stealing, cheating, adultery, implied sex/nudity, drinking, pill-popping, driving under the influence, prison breaks, kissing cousins, embezzling, illegitimate children, and all-around crooked behavior. And there are lots of jokes at the expense of gay men, Christians, people of color, and the disabled. Strong swear words are bleeped, though "damn," "hell," and the like are not; expect plenty of drinking and smoking as well.

What's the story?

When George Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor) is sent to jail for embezzling millions from the family's real estate venture capital firm, levelheaded son Michael (Jason Bateman) takes control of the company and the family. He does his best to placate his perpetually drunk mother, Lucille (Jessica Walter), and his needy siblings: Buster (Tony Hale), Gob (pronounced like "Job" in the bible and played by Will Arnett), and twin sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi). The rest of the family requires less of his attention but are as equally screwed up. His teenage son, George Michael (Michael Cera), is in love with Lindsay's daughter, Maebe (Alia Shawkat). And Maebe's sexually confused father, Tobias Fünke (David Cross), is a "never nude" who even sports cut-offs in the shower. Guest stars include Henry Winkler as the family's inept attorney and Liza Minelli as Lucille's vertigo-stricken neighbor/arch nemesis Lucille Austero, who has an Oedipal-like affair with Buster.

Is it any good?


ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT was rightfully the most critically acclaimed show on television during its original run on Fox, from 2003-2006 (the show was revived for a fourth season by Netflix in 2013 after attracting a large, devoted fan following over the years). The plotlines are incredibly bizarre, unique, and hilarious. The acting is superb, and the direction allows for subtlety that isn't possible in a standard three-camera sitcom.

All of that said, this show is definitely NOT for kids. Much of the humor is so quick and subtle that it's most likely to go over their head, but aside from George Michael, the lack of goodwill in any of the show's characters (as well as all of the mature story elements) makes Arrested Development best reserved for adults and mature teens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why you think so many sitcoms have adult themes and material. Why do you think it's difficult to find a family-friendly show as creative and funny as Arrested Development is? How does cable play a role in this trend?

  • Are the Bluths intended to be admirable or relatable characters? Does that impact how much you enjoy the show? What about the complicated storylines?

  • Is there a take-away message? How would you characterize it?

  • Why do you think Arrested Development has become such a beloved "cult" hit? What gives a show or movie that kind of appeal?

TV details

Premiere date:November 2, 2003
Cast:Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett
Networks:Fox, Netflix, Syndicated
Topics:Brothers and sisters
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Arrested Development was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Modern Family Poster Image
    Brilliant, poignant comedy series has mature content.
  • The Office Poster Image
    Workplace spoof is hilarious but filled with mature humor.
  • Better Off Ted Poster Image
    Humor in whipsmart workplace satire is aimed at adults.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old April 13, 2011


Teen, 16 years old Written bycross_breed September 8, 2010
I absolutely love this show! I'm borrowing the first season from my buddy right now. I'm about half way through and I'm positively addicted to it. When I watch it I can't stop laughing. This is the one show I think I would say is funnier than The Office. Content wise, it's really not bad. Like I said, I'm about halfway through the first season and I've only heard two f-bombs unbleeped, a couple bleeped words, and a few uses of words like d*mn and hell. There are some sexual themes: one character has romantic feelings for a relative, another for his brother's girlfriend, and several sleep around. The role models are really bad, as most are out for themselves and no one else. They lie, cheat, steal, many other bad things, however the overall theme, that family is very important, is a positive one. If you're over thirteen, this is a hilarious show.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Adult Written bymooseman January 1, 2009

Best comedy to ever grace network television with it's presence

This show is rife sarcasm, irony, wit, and character quarks. There are many references to sex and drugs, most of which will fly over most kids heads. This show is also full of terrible people who rarely take the opportunity redeem themselves. Even though the one genuinely good character is often morally conflicted, it's all in the name of humor. i would recommend this show for anyone 14 and up. By the way, canceling this show was Fox's biggest mistake.