What will Arrested Development look like under a Trump presidency?


One of television’s most consistently funny comedies is returning once again – yes, Arrested Development is going to be back for a fifth season. Airing on Netflix in 2018, Arrested Development series 5 will reunite the Bluth family once again.

It’s a brilliant programme, of course – remarkably quick witted, and layered with so many jokes that even by the fifth marathon you’d still be noticing new gags you’d never caught before. It’s why the show has endured so long, with this fifth season set to air 15 years after the first series premiered. Arrested Development is a cult classic, and rightfully so.

Another reason why Arrested Development is so funny is because it’s a razor-sharp satire of the Bush family. In some respects, the Bluth family is modelled off one of America’s political dynasties, right down to their names – from George Bluth and George Bush, to Jeb Bush and Gob Bluth. That’s why you’ve got Saddam Hussein (well, a lookalike) making a guest appearance in the show, and why one of Lucille’s funniest lines is based on George Bush Sr’s own mistakes.

The first run of Arrested Development aired in the early 2000s, when George W Bush was in office and his father’s presidency was still a recent memory – it made sense for the show to engage with those realities. But like all good satires, it’s gradually become apparent that it has a resonance beyond its original target.

A family of real estate moguls. Corruption, money problems, and a border wall with Mexico. Promising to achieve things quickly and then failing anyway. Gaudy displays of wealth, from a family who weren’t actually as wealthy as they said they were. Possible incest. Potentially shady deals and unethical agreements. Unsuccessful product lines. A ‘yuge’ mistake. Sound familiar?

Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz acknowledged and referenced these similarities when announcing the return of the show:

“In talks with Netflix we all felt that stories about a narcissistic, erratically behaving family in the building business ― and their desperate abuses of power ― are really underrepresented on TV these days”

All of which begs the question – what would Arrested Development look like under a Trump presidency? Will the show engage with the president directly, allowing the focus of its satire to shift?

If nothing else, it might start to look a little bit more like the news, rather than an comedy about a group of exaggerated and outlandish characters. It’s possible that Mitchell Hurwitz might take the same route the Veep writers have – deliberately not trying to satirise Trump, in the knowledge that life is stranger than fiction. Alternatively, they might be much more overt in their approach; it’s not difficult to imagine the show involving Trump in the same way it once did Saddam Hussein. (Maybe he’d even be up for making a cameo himself.)

Of course, Arrested Development series 5 won’t air until 2018. Given the speed at which things have been changing in America, it’s possible it won’t go out under a Trump presidency at all…


What will TV and Film look like under President Trump?

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