Release Date: Thursdays, 8:30 PM
The best thing about the digital revolution in Australian television is that programs that had drifted out to the DVD store years back now have the chance of washing up on the living room floor again. One of the best among the flotsam and jetsam is Arrested Development.
Jason Bateman plays Michael Bluth, the one responsible son in a wealthy family teetering on the edge of financial ruin. When Michael’s father George is arrested for fraud, Michael’s expected to step up and play nursemaid to his dysfunctional siblings and his pampered mother. This series is full of the sort of dry wit that American productions are not known for, as well as gems like Michael Cera’s early television days and narration by Ron Howard. There are also bitter-sweet moments that can let you know quite quickly how laughably sad society has become:
Maebe (Michael’s niece): Do you guys know where I could get one of those gold T-shaped pendants?
Michael: That’s a cross.
Maebe: Across from where?
But one of the more persistent themes is that of family. US comedy shows may pretend to test the boundaries but tend to hold certain things sacred, even as they mock them. Family is the highest value at the heart of Arrested Development. Michael is forever inconvenienced, enraged and even almost imprisoned because of the rest of the Bluths, but his catch phrase is ‘Nothing is more important than family” – even when it’s said through gritted teeth. I think there’s something here that Christians should keep in mind. Author C.S. Lewis remarked on how difficult it can be to get on with people at church because we continually see their humanity staring us in the face.
“The local grocer with a rather oily expression on his face bustling up to offer one shiny little book containing a liturgy [he doesn’t] understand, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad … [and sitting in the pew] just that selection of neighbours [we’ve] hitherto avoided.”
But that’s just the Devil playing a trick with our eyes, helping us focus on others’ faults while conveniently masking our own. The real ties that bind are on the inside; the common faith that marks them as family for eternity. Seems like we could do a lot worse than adopt Michael’s motto.