When Sitcoms Make You Weep

I just received a strange and poignant email from a close friend of mine who’s known in certain circles as Johnny K. Thunder. He has never, ever sent me a chain letter or a mass-email or asked me to commit to a pyramid scheme. But now, after a decade of friendly, personal emails, he has discovered a New Lord Almighty. And so he’s deemed it necessary to share the faith:

Greetings everyone,

I don’t usually do the mass email thing, but I’m asking for a simple favor—a sad, mournful plea—please take some time every Sunday night and watch the Fox show “Arrested Development.” I know there are more important things out there in the world, but when it comes to Television, quality is eroding more and more each season. It’s getting to the point that you have to turn to premium cable to find good television, such as HBO’s “The Wire” and “The Sopranos,” but last season we were given a gift on Sundays and that gift was “.”

This show became the Great New Sitcom and it couldn’t have come at a better time. When we’re not being bombarded with low-rent reality shows, we have to deal with hackneyed sitcoms that star has-been comedians or shows that have an overweight slob married to some gorgeous woman who in real life would be way out of his league. We know everybody loves Raymond, we live in the world according to Jim, we accept that Damon Wayans has a wife and kids. Been there done that— but then along comes a thing of beauty floating through our screens on Sunday nights.

If you haven’t seen “Arrested Development,” it’s simple: It’s brilliant. It gives you everything: highbrow lowbrow, lowbrow highbrow, and lowbrow done in highbrow style. It’s not hard to pick up the deceptively simple storyline (they explain it in the opening credits), but you’re rewarded if you continue to watch additional episodes, with clever references to past episodes hidden snuggly away in every new script.

After a few weeks, you’ll pick up on the thousands of little jokes—and each episode is worth repeated viewing because you discover a cornucopia of subtle inside jokes you missed the first time. All this, and yet each episode stands on its own.

But now, in its second season, it’s threatened with cancellation once again.

I like the “The Simpsons” and all, but it’s the sitcom of the 20th century. “Arrested” is the 21st century sitcom. “Arrested” is new, different, better. Tell all of your friends about the show, and force them to watch it (at gunpoint, if necessary) because in order to save it, we need viewers. You can also go to the Fox website and petition them to keep the show, but I recommend you do it after watching a few episodes—that way, your message will be more heartfelt.

Also, rent or buy the first season DVD collection. Trust me: You won’t be disappointed. The DVDs are real cheap compared to most DVD sets, and the show works even better without commercial breaks. Get it in widescreen digital if you can find it. And with your purchase you’ll send a message to the suits out there in TV land. A memorandum that we’re tired of seeing has-been celebrities living in a house and trying to figure out the grocery bills, we’re tired of karaoke singers trying to get multimillion dollar music deals, we’re tired of hunks building houses for kids with no bones. We’re tired of rich debutantes mocking us simple folk. We’re also tired of Ryan Seacrest. Wait; maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m the one tired of Ryan Seacrest.

“Arrested” might get cancelled, but we can at least try to save it. Let’s do it! You and me, together. Like old war buddies, reliving the glory days. Even if you're downloading this show commercial-free via illegal BitTorrent sharing, make sure you spread the Good Word of the "Arrested" Gospel. And if you're part of Nielsen Media Research's worldwide lab-rat TV sample team, leave your damn remote firmly pointed at this show, and this show only.

This crazy little sitcom makes me forget I live in a trailer with a three-legged, one-eye dog with the cutest eye patch you’ve ever seen. There I said it. Please, I beg you: Don’t abandon me with bad TV.


Johnny K. Thunder

An awkward moment for Will Arnett as
George Oscar 'Gob' Bluth II, in banana costume.
In the air. With crane.
(You had to be there. It was funny.
I swear: It was, it was.)


Now, trip down memory lane with Mitchell Hurwitz as he discusses the down-and-dirty details of working on sitcoms— including his creation of the absolutely staggeringly brilliant "Arrested Development"—with The Onion A.V. Club.




Anonymous said...

YES YES YES!!! Arrested Development IS the best show on TV right now! Thank you!

GNN Staff Writer said...

Interesting site. I'll be visiting again. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...


Tried to watch Arrested Development 3 times. It just isn't funny.

Does your friend work on the show or something? If not, I think he needs a hobby.

The Doctor said...

Agreed - this is one of the best shows on TV right now. If you have just recently found it (as I have), spend a weekend and rent the 3 DVD set of the first season. Not only will it make for an hilarious weekend, it will make future episodes that much more funny. People who don't get the humor probably don't get the Simpsons either - it is a genuine iceburg of a show. If all you see is the part sticking out of the water, you miss a gigantic portion of comedic irony, stereotypes and subtlety. I encourage everyone to send Fox an email and ask - no beg - them to keep the show.

Wendy said...

Actually a friend of mine let me borrow the first season and I have been watching it, and I love it so far. That is one messed up family. I am so glad to see Jason Bateman and Portia de Rossi doing something new. And who would have thought that Liza Minnelli would be funny on a sitcom, but she is. I love the show.

Alexa said...

I think Arrested Development is fabulous. They only reason most people don't like it is because you have to have intelligence to get the jokes. This situation reminds me of Family Guy, but Fox is bringing that one back because of its devoted followers.

Lucas Brachish said...

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