A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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?
In ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, 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?
This series 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
Themes & Topics
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.