22 Arrested Development Facts You Never Knew About The Bluths
Behind the scenes trivia from Mitchell Hurwitz's cult sitcom Arrested Development starring Jason Bateman and Michael Cera including which US actor was all set to play Gob before Will Arnett, how Ron Howard impressively cast Liza Minnelli in the role of Lucille 2 and the large amount Fox paid to make the pilot episode.
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Arrested Development is a cult US sitcom created by Mitchell Hurwitz and Ron Howard. Originally Arrested Development aired on Fox for three seasons from November 2003 to February 2006 but after its cancellation it was picked up in 2013 by Netflix who have since made both a fourth and fifth season.
Arrested Development follows the Bluth family who once owned a very profitable housing development company in Orange County, California. However the family business goes bust with all assets frozen and George Senior (Jeffrey Tambor) is imprisoned for committing white-collar crime. The job of rebuilding the Bluth Company's reputation and keeping the family together is left to his eldest son Michael, played by Jason Bateman. No matter how many times Michael and his son George Michael (Michael Cera) try to leave the family unit to start over, there is always a strange set of eccentric circumstances that force them to stay.
Portia de Rossi, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett and David Cross also star in the main Arrested Development Cast.
If you've been a fan of the Bluth's since it's beginning on Fox, you might feel like you know everything there is to know about them however here are 22 little known Arrested Development facts that you may not have seen before. We promise one of them isn't, 'there is always money in the banana stand'.
1. Ron Howard’s Role As Narrator Was Accidental
Ron Howard (known for many directorial and acting roles including American Graffiti 1973 and Happy Days 1974) is the Executive Producer and narrator of Arrested Development. He disclosed in an interview that he accidentally fell into the role of the Arrested Development narrator when he filled in for the pilot and his voice worked well with the rest of the dialogue.
In the later seasons Ron Howard becomes a prominent character, the father of Rebel Alley, a woman who both Michael Bluth and his son George Michael have a relationship with.
Rebel Alley is described as Ron Howard's illegitimate daughter in Arrested Development and, like Howard's real life children including the featured Bryce Dallas Howard, she got her name 'Alley' from her place of conception. Alley is also the maiden name of Ron Howard's wife Cheryl Howard.
2. Arrested Development Was Cancelled In 2006
Despite receiving critical acclaim, a Golden Globe award and 6 Primetime Emmy Awards, the ratings were consistently low on Arrested Development and Fox cancelled the series in 2006 with Season 3 as it’s final season. Season One of Arrested Development reached an average of 6.2 million viewers.
Ron Howard and Mitchell Hurwitz included many quips in the dialogue regarding Fox's excuses for cancelling the show including that it had too many in-jokes and wasn’t as popular as other shows at the time such as The OC.
After Arrested Development's cult success following its cancellation, Netflix bought the franchise in 2011 agreeing to license new episodes and distribute them exclusively on their streaming service. The fifth season of Arrested Development premiered in May 2018.
3. Fox Paid Six Figures For The Pilot Episode Of Arrested Development
In 2002 Ron Howard had the original idea to create a comedy show mimicking the conventions of popular reality television including hand-held camera style. He later went on to meet both David Nevins, the president of Imagine Television and Mitchell Hurwitz. It was Hurwitz, who was inspired by the corporate accounting scandals at the time, that chose to base their show around a family going from riches to rags. When the idea for Arrested Development was pitched both NBC and Fox got into a bidding war which was ultimately won by Fox who paid a six-figure sum for the privilege. Surely this would have been a factor in deciding whether to go ahead with the cancellation?
4. Alia Shawkat The First To Be Cast In Arrested Development
Actor Alia Shawkat was cast first in the role of Maeby Fünke, the daughter of Lindsey Bluth (Portia de Rossi) and Tobias Fünke (David Frost). Michael Cera (George Michael), Tony Hale (Buster), and Jessica Walter (Lucille Bluth) were all chosen via video tape auditions and then auditioned in person at Fox. Later Jason Bateman (Michael) and Portia de Rossi both auditioned in person and were hired on the spot.
5. Rainn Wilson Was Second Favourite To Play Gob Bluth
Rainn Wilson was a favourite to play Gob Bluth in Arrested Development, the least favourite Bluth brother. He went on to play Dwight Schrute in the US remake of The Office. Will Arnett was then subsequently hired for his unique portrayal of Gob Bluth, the character hardest to cast at the time. In an interview for the website Pop Eater, Arnett is said to have played the character of Gob like, “a guy who thought of himself as the chosen son, even though it was obvious to everyone else that he was the least favorite” which pretty much sums up the character in one!
6. Tobias and George Senior Were Meant To Be Minor Roles
Both Tobias Fünke (David Frost) and George Bluth Snr (Jeffrey Tambor) were meant to be minor roles in the cast of Arrested Development however when Producers Mitchell Hurwitz and Ron Howard saw David Cross and Jeffrey Tambor mix well with the rest of the cast their parts were made more significant to the story. Can you imagine Arrested Development without the denim shorts?
7. Ron Howard Cast Liza Minnelli In Arrested Development
The character of Lucille 2, neighbour to the Bluth family and later owner of the Austero Bluth Company was played notably by the iconic Cabaret actress Liza Minnelli. She was the Arrested Development team's dream actor to play the role. So Ron Howard was able to assist in securing Minelli for the part due to being old friends. She had once been his babysitter!
8. Arrested Development Was Filmed Like Reality Television
Unlike other comedy television shows and American sitcoms at the time, Arrested Development stayed away from canned laughter tracks, studio audiences, and fixed sets. Instead it borrowed many techniques from documentary film-making and reality television including being shot on location and in HD 24fps with multiple cameras.
Arrested Development has multiple layers and call backs to gags and uses cutaways with visual punchlines such as security footage, photographs, flashback and archive footage giving it the unique ability to self-reference. This self-referential quality was rewarding for long-standing fans yet ultimately led to the Arrested Development's cancellation due to new viewers being unable to pick up the sub plots and jokes midway through a season.
Another documentary convention honoured by the Arrested Development creators was to bleep out the swear words which usually adds to the jokes themselves. Either scenes would be abruptly cut to hide the characters’ mouths when swearing or the actors just hilariously covered their own mouths.
The Arrested Development producers borrowed a lot of stylistic conventions from reality television.
9. Arrested Development Was Nearly A Film
Rumours continually surface around a potential Arrested Development film after writer Mitchell Hurwitz said he wouldn’t create any more episodes for a network and if the series was to continue it wouldn’t be episodic. In 2011 during The New Yorker Film Festival, Hurwitz said he would be creating a shorter fourth season which would lead into a film adaptation. However instead, he created a fifth season for Netflix which was uploaded in two parts.
The Arrested Development fourth season was an intertwined look at each individual character's story and how their lives had developed over the same time frame from 2006 to 2013. This led to a disjointed timeline of events with many crossovers, one that long-standing fans would love. However Mitchell Hurwitz announced in 2018 that Season 4 would be remixed from the original 15 individualised stories into 22 interwoven stories the length of the original series. Hurwitz also joked that whilst this would be a great rewatch for fans, he hopes to make money eventually off the syndication of Arrested Development and the remix was to see if he could "make some money"!
Hurwitz said in the announcement that, "The goal was that by the end of the [fourth] season, a unified story of cause and effect would emerge for the viewer - full of surprises about how the Bluths were responsible for the most of the misery they had endured. In some ways to be an experience for that viewer, perhaps, akin to eating some toast, then some bacon- maybe a sliced tomato followed by some turkey and realizing "Hey, I think I just had a BLT.""
Arrested Development Season 4 Remix: Fateful Consequences is available to stream on Netflix.
10. Producers Were Sued By Hip Hop Group Arrested Development
In 2003, the Arrested Development producers were hit by a lawsuit from hip hop group of the same name, 'Arrested Development'. The band were concerned that Fox’s use of the name would ‘dilute what Arrested Development means’ to their fans. The lawsuit was settled for a quiet sum which hasn’t been made available to the public.
The lawsuit was alluded to in the script during the season two episode Motherboy XXX in which the omniscient narrator distinguishes between the Mother/Son dress up event Motherboy happening in the episode and the fictional 70s rock band Motherboy. The fictitious band is composed of several Arrested Development cast members including Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor, Will Arnett, Robert Smigel, and Jason Bateman.
11. Season Two Of Arrested Development Was Cut From 22 To 18 Episodes
Season Two of Arrested Development was cut from the usual 22 episodes down to just 18 due to low ratings. Fox later cut season three of Arrested Development down from 22 to much smaller 13 episodes. The script self-references this when the Bluth Company’s Housing Order is cut back from 22 to 18 homes.
Mitchell Hurwitz discusses how he came up with the character Gob Bluth in Arrested Development.
12. Nearly Each Episode Begins With The Word ‘Michael’
Almost every Arrested Development episode begins with Ron Howard's narrator saying the name 'Michael' or 'Michael Bluth', Jason Bateman’s character. This changed in Season 4 when the individual Arrested Development characters have their own episodes mimicking Michael’s usual style.
13. The Photo Of Charlize Theron Is Real!
A photograph of Rita, Michael’s simple English love interest played by Charlize Theron in Arrested Development, is shown as a before plastic surgery photo. In fact the photograph is a real one of Theron when she was starring in the 2003 film Monster; she had to gain 30lb and had rigorous special effects make up to make her look less privileged.
14. One Of Tobias Fünke's License Plates Are Real
The character Tobias Fünke in Arrested Development decides to get a personalised license plate/number plate made for his car after each role that he auditions for as he shifts his career from psychiatry to acting. One of the license plates that he gets made up is 'House M.D', a role which David Frost really auditioned for in 2004. House was later played by Hugh Laurie.
Amusingly, Tobias settles on getting a number plate to represent A New Start, giving Arrested Development one of their most amusing jokes, a license plate spelling out ANUSTART.
15. Nevernudes Are Real!
David Cross’ character Tobias in Arrested Development has a condition called ‘nevernude’ in which he is never naked due to a phobia of naked bodies. He is instead seen wearing small denim shorts in scenes where he would be naked such as in the shower. Interestingly the fear of naked bodies is actually a real and recognised psychological condition known as Gymnophobia.
Scrubs star Zach Braff in his appearance as Phillip Litt on Arrested Development also portrayed a nevernude.
David Frost's character Tobias in Arrested Development wasn't meant to be a permanent cast member.
16. Michael Angarano Was In Line To Play George Michael Bluth
As Michael Cera who plays George Michael Bluth in Arrested Development is originally from Canada, he was almost unable to finish filming the pilot episode due to problems with his work visa. In order to obtain another visa he had to go to Tijuana, Mexico before filming could continue. The Arrested Development producers had Michael Angarano on standby on set as his replacement in case he was unsuccessful in acquiring a new visa. Angarano is known for playing Elliot in Will and Grace from 2001 to 2017.
17. George Michael’s Girlfriend Ann Was Played By Two Actors
In Season 1 of Arrested Development Ann, the forgettable girlfriend of George Micheal Bluth, was played by Alessandra Torresani, who went on to play Raj’s love interest Claire in The Big Bang Theory. Despite her great performance, Toerresani was replaced by Mae Whitman (Scott Pilgrim vs The World 2010 and The Perks Of Being A Wallflower 2012) who looks very different to her predecessor. This could be interpreted as another joke in the show as Ann was always referred to as not being very memorable, characters would forget she was there etc… and George Michael's cousin Maeby repeatedly calls her ‘no face’.
18. Gob’s Wife Is Played By Will Arnett’s Wife
Gob Bluth (Will Arnett) marries an unnamed bride played by Amy Poehler in Arrested Development. He is unable to get the marriage annulled due to not wanting to lose face when it came to sexual bragging. Actor and comedian Amy Poehler was married to Will Arnett in real life at the time. The two were married in 2003 and divorced in 2016; they also have two children together.
19. The Fake Websites Listed In The Show Were All Real
The majority of the websites listed in Arrested Development throughout the series were actually created for fans to access. Many have now expired however the domains that are still owned by Fox are redirected to the Fox website.
The Fake Websites On Arrested Development Included:
Arrested Development's Mitchell Hurwitz had his own version of the Bluth's banana stand as a teen instead selling Chocolate Chip Cookies.
20. The Bluth’s Banana Stand Was Inspired By Hurwitz’s Teenage Business
The Bluth family's famous beach side banana stand was inspired by Arrested Development writer Mitchell Hurwitz’s own Chocolate Chip Cookie business that he created with his brother in 1976 when they were 13 and 15 years old. They renovated a former Taco stand in Newport Beach and called it ‘The Chipyard’.
Hurwitz is credited in saying that the chocolate chip cookie business paid for both their college educations and is still running today with a physical location in Boston and is available nationwide across the United States by mail order.
21. Jason Bateman’s Sister Starred In Arrested Development
During one episode of Arrested Development named Family Ties in season 3, Jason Bateman’s (Michael Bluth) real life sister Justine Bateman guest starred as Nellie, a potential sister for the Bluth brothers but really was a prostitute hired by the Bluth company. Justine Bateman is well known for starring in the sitcom with the same name as the episode Family Ties as the character Mallory from 1982 to 1989.
22. Michael Bluth Applies For A Job With Sitwell In The Pilot
In the pilot episode of Arrested Development, Jason Bateman’s character Michael is seen breaking the family bond by applying for a job at a rival housing company, Sitwell Enterprises. However fans had to wait until Season Two to see the iconic performance from Ed Begley Jr as Stan Sitwell.
Let us know whether you have any more good behind the scenes facts about Arrested Development in the comments below!