Looking back over the span of TV history, there are tons of series that took considerable leaps and shifts in subject matter and story presentation, and high up there on the list is Arrested Development, which jumped from a hyper-serialized plot in Seasons 1-3 on Fox to a hyper-focused jigsaw puzzle of a plot for Season 4 on Netflix. More so than the earlier seasons, the fourth installment seemed to polarize the show’s fanbase, and star Jason Bateman thinks that a lot of that was Netflix’s fault for its marketing.
It’s not every day you hear someone badmouthing one of the biggest entertainment hubs on the planet, and to be fair, Bateman stakes his claim without much animosity or ill will, but it’s clear he thinks that Netflix was to blame for the shift in viewer love. Here’s how he put it on a recent episode of the podcast WTF with Marc Maron when the subject of the latest season came up.
I have two reactions to Bateman’s words. One, it’s pretty awesome that Mitch Hurwitz knows this universe so well that he’s able to keep coming up with mega-arcs for the Bluth family to inhabit with their distinct personalities, though it’s of course unfortunate that this style isn’t the most easily understood. And I can’t wait to hopefully see where the other acts go.
Second, I’m not quite sure what Bateman thought that Netflix could do with Arrested Development’s fourth year that didn’t involve calling it Season 4. Possibly altering the title or giving it a subtitle over a season number would have worked, the same way some revival shows are doing it. (Heroes Reborn and the like.) But TV audiences, even ones as smart as Arrested Development’s core fanbase, can be fickle enough to not always understand things that aren’t packed as neatly as “Season 4.” So it’s hard to fully blame Netflix’s marketing decision in this case, as it’s not like there’s a rulebook in how to bring canceled shows back from the depths.
What’s more, Bateman doesn’t even seem to be aware of the fact that producer Brian Grazer is trying to make Season 5 happen. When Marc Maron asked about the future of the show, here’s how Bateman put it.
Considering Hurwitz has a multi-year deal with Netflix, I seriously doubt we’ve seen the last of the Bluths. And maybe next time, he’ll have a bigger say in how the season is presented to audiences.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.