Arrested Development (1)

Somehow I missed one of the greatest shows EVER until this week: I just discovered Arrested Development (thanks to my super-brilliant friends who knew it was a match made in heaven).

Not only do I love Jason Bateman (please please at least see Juno and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium) but I love TV that asks us to take a good long look at ourselves, individually and corporately.  Implied in the long look is the need for action—some kind of decisive maneuver that either confirms, denies, or changes what we see.

Perhaps it’s too simplistic to look at the Bluth family as a representation of America itself.  I’m sure hundreds of other critics who happily discovered this show before I did have made the correlation.  But as the saying goes, there’s a reason that cliches become cliches.  So, bear with me as I assert  that the Bluth family is in some respect America itself.  Broken, dysfunctional, wealthy, lacking integrity, confused, passionate, maybe even philanthropic at turns—-but basically, it’s a family.  Family is not the kind of thing that you can choose to be a part of, but it does have the “opt in” / “opt out” selection at the bottom of the form.  The world itself conspires to set you in the damn thing: whether it’s the biology that makes you happen because of your parents; whether it’s the complex social psychology that makes you a part of a group that comes together and stays together to help each of its members make its way in the world; or whether it’s the deeply spiritual transaction that suddenly binds you to everyone else on the planet that’s as crazy as you.  You don’t “pick” your family but you decide to participate.

Michael Bluth: Remind me why I'm doing this?

Michael Bluth: Remind me why I'm doing this?

Michael Bluth decides to participate.  And that single action makes him a hero.  In a larger sense, those of us that decide to participate in this (ready for another worn out cliche?) melting pot country are heroes.  Nothing about America should work; but it does.  Limpingly, grotesquely, obliquely, embarrassingly, it does.  The Bluth family survives crisis although we’d really all prefer to see them degraded a bit—but not really, because, of course, there’s a lot a bit of ourselves staring back at us.  The American “family” survives crisis although we’d really all prefer to see us cut down to size a bit—but not really because, of course, we are America.  Maybe that’s what’s so damn heroic about MIchael Bluth: he humbly decides to participate in something that’s obviously a poor reflection on himself for the benefit of all the other people caught up in the mess.

Disclaimer: I’ve only seen three episodes.  My opinions are subject to wild and inconsistent changes—-though I usually pick one interpretation and stick with it.

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