This Arrested Development review contains spoilers
Arrested Development Season 5 Episode 6
If you’re an Arrested Development aficionado, you’ll remember a season 3 episode titled “S.O.B.’s,” or “Save our Bluths” (which still remains one of the best titles given the series context). An episode devoted entirely to a slight nod to the audience and a not-so-subtle plea to other networks to pick up the show.
Subtlety was thrown out the window for a stunt, and though it didn’t work it illustrated the show’s aesthetic: nuance with a heavy hand. They did it well, once. But so far the fifth season has been burning at both ends throwing everything they can into the mix, and this episode might have been the worst offender. “Emotional Baggage” should have been called “The Ron Howard Show.”
When the Bluths were finally saved by Netflix and returned for a fourth season, the Ron Howard stuff still wasn’t great, but it was kitschy. It was once again playing with the audience the way it loves to. But, I think it only worked because no one thought the show would actually come back again. I kind of played season 4 off as a nostalgia stunt and went on my merry way. That was killed, though, when Mitch Hurwitz and the team decided that Rebel Alley and Ron Howard would continue to play a major role in season 5.
“Emotional Baggage” starts with the family figuring out how to get Baby Buster out of jail. While trying to come up with 50 grand to bail out the youngest Bluth, the family decides on a press blackout which forces Michael to get the releases he handed over to Kitty earlier in the season. That naturally puts us through another scene of Gob having to seduce Kitty, but ultimately gets interrupted by Tony Wonder.
In an effort to kill the Bluth family movie, Michael chases a new lead, courtesy of George Michael, to the Howard family barbecue where Bryce Dallas Howard and Rance Howard make an appearance, because of course. What follows is an eternity of Howard-centric jokes that are like, okay, we get it, it’s Ron Howard. Maybe I’m off and everyone else loves it, but I just want to see the Bluths in action. Too heavy handed with Rebel and the Howards, it’s exhausting.
Meanwhile, Lindsay is absent from the episode completely. Still off finding her biological mother or more likely filming Scandal or something.
In the wreckage of the “Ron Howard Show” there’s also a few scenes of Maeby’s budding relationship with Stan Sitwell, which seemed oddly placed in the episode but I will always take more Maeby – though scenes where she doesn’t have to grab old men’s junk would probably be preferable.
There’s also a bit of George Sr. showing Baby Buster the jailhouse ropes before attempting suicide again and failing.
All in all, this episode didn’t leave me wanting more. It feels as though they’ve traded in the classic Bluth dysfunction and callback humor brand for low-effort stunts for the audience. Come on, Hurwitz, Save our S.O.B.’s.