Arrested Development Season 5 Premiere Date: Why No One Cares About Arrested Development Anymore

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Arrested Development Netflix

Arrested Development season 5 is coming to Netflix, and nobody seems to care. That’s a stark, dramatic change from when Arrested Development season 4 premiered after a seven-year cancellation. Then, the Internet was abuzz for the return of one of the most beloved shows of the aughts, cancelled before its time. Now… the fans still care, sort of, but it’s not like it was. Arrested Development season 5 just hasn’t garnered the same attention as season 4, and that’s for a whole slew of reasons.


Why No One Cares About Arrested Development Season 5


There isn’t just one reason why Arrested Development season 5 isn’t commanding the same attention the initial revival did. One reason stands out as particularly obvious, and we’ll get to it in a second, but this is a more complex tale. But let’s start with the obvious one:


Arrested Development Season 4 Wasn’t Great


Face it: Arrested Development season 4 kinda sucked. I was a big champion of the season at the time, and I still think it did great things, but as time has passed, its flaws are more obvious. Even series creator Mitch Hurwitz has said that season 4, a result of the incredibly difficult schedules of the whole cast, was all wrong. The pacing was off, the storyline was strange, Michael was as bad as everybody else, the episodes were too long, and most of all, the characters weren’t together enough—it didn’t feel like an ensemble… or a comedy, for that matter. It felt like a comic drama about a family that had fallen apart, with nothing left to bind them. That’s the biggest reason the fourth season failed: It felt like what it was. A show about a family we left behind long ago. That brings us to the next reason why nobody cares about Arrested Development season 5.


The Show’s Era Has Passed


Arrested Development was a product of its time. It ran from 2003 to 2006, the most recent boom time in the economy. Heck, the Bluth family fortune came from the very industry that went on to wreck the world economy: Real estate, and cheap crappy homes. Nowadays, it hits a little close to home. Major plot points from the show are firmly rooted in the politics of the time, most particularly the Iraq War… half the plot is about building houses for Saddam Hussein!

When Arrested Development season 4 came out in 2013, these messages were beyond tired, they were alienating. The first three seasons are a look back at the last Gilded Age, viewed from beyond the Great Recession. That age of prosperity deeply influenced the show. And I don’t mean to say season 4 continued that feeling; the main thrust of the revival was how the Bluth family had fallen apart once they fell on hard times. They had become like the aristocratic families in the wake of the Depression; they merely squabbled over the remains, aiming to snap up what wealth they could. And it was, as mentioned above, bleakly depressing.


Television Has Changed


The reasons above are internal to Arrested Development. The season wasn’t as good, and it had a very different tone, and the subjects it covered don’t resonate the way they did ten years ago. But the lack of excitement for season 5—and don’t get me wrong, season 4 was a success and season 5 will be too, but the passion seems to be gone—has as much to do with changes in the television industry.

The changes since 2006, when the show was first cancelled, are obvious. Like Seinfeld before it, Arrested Development had an outsize influence on television comedy. Other shows adopted its tropes quickly. What once felt like a breath of fresh air is now par for the course, and that’s a great thing. Shows like 30 Rock owe nearly as much to Arrested as they do to The Office, another show that was great when it debuted but feels terribly, terribly stale now.

Television has moved on from Arrested Development. And it’s done that by incorporating the lessons Arrested Development taught us. The medium is better for it, but AD—which still holds up well—isn’t the young upstart, it’s the retired grandfather.

The industry has even moved on since season 4, which came out just two years ago. Believe it or not, Arrested Development season 4 was only the second Netflix original, premiering just a few months before House of Cards. At the time, full-length, episodic television shows made exclusively for Internet content companies were a fresh and new thing. Now, they’re practically a dime a dozen. Even revivals of long-dead shows aren’t a novelty anymore. It makes sense that Arrested Development season 5 doesn’t command the same attention. It is no longer an experiment.

The Arrested Development season 5 release date is planned for mid-2016, and we’ll all get excited about it in due time. And we’ll watch it, and it’ll probably be better than the fourth season. But it won’t ever be like it once was. The world has moved on.

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