Arrested Development has a long history of pioneering the comedy genre on television. Before any of the dense meta-humor of Community ever hit the airwaves, Mitchell Hurwitz’s groundbreaking series featuring the dysfunctional Bluth family was in danger of cancellation from FOX. Many pegged Arrested as too edgy and inaccessible in its early episodes, something that seems almost laughable today when you consider the sheer amount of hit shows today that borrow heavily from the show. Now in the hands of Netflix, the craziest days are yet to come.
According to a report from Deadline, the fifth season of the show will carry distinct similarities to true crime dramas like The Jinx and Making a Murderer. The only limiting factor as of now is signing on the full ensemble cast, most of which have found themselves occupied with their own projects since the 2013 Netflix revival. As of now, Hurwitz is waiting on the cast to finish writing the new season, albeit with a specific framework for where he wants the story to go.
Season 4 finished with something of a cliffhanger, with Buster Bluth (Tony Hale) arrested for the murder of Lucille 2 (Liza Minnelli). Before true crime shows ever exploded in popularity, Hurwitz intention was always to make Season 5 a thorough investigation into Lucille 2’s actual killer, and as it always has been, Arrested Development was ahead of the curve before anyone even knew what the curve was. The biggest obstacle the show has encountered though is time: As a show rooted in pop culture prescience, it runs the risk of finding itself beat to the punch the longer it takes to release.
All this leads us to the question of the day: Can Arrested pull off its bold Season 5 strategy? It finds itself entering into a crowded and competitive field in the realm of true crime. Serial, The Jinx, and Making a Murderer all are at the forefront of the budding genre, and adding yet another series to their ranks could prove difficult. Not to mention: The only thing harder than competing in a crowded field is breaking from convention within that genre. Season 5 of Arrested Development will face the tall order of recapturing the sheer density of its past seasons, all while telling a fictional “true” crime story in a comedic context.
That being said, Mitchell Hurwitz has proven himself to be nothing short of capable when it comes to breaking new ground. Arrested has always been a show setting the tone for the rest of pop culture, inspiring droves of imitators, homages, and everything in between. It only makes sense for it to continue pushing its boundaries, set within the confines of a universally accepted and beloved genre of storytelling. Subversion has always been the name of the game for this show, and the best use of that strategy always comes when its utilized to subvert an established institution. In the case of Arrested Development, it just so happens that true crime drama finds itself in the crosshairs.
Whether Season 5 can actually accomplish all this is far from guaranteed. Jason Bateman, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor, Will Arnett, David Cross, Michael Cera, and Portia de Rossi are all wrapped up in projects of their own right now, making it that much more difficult to bring the ensemble together for 17 episodes of television. But if the history of the show has taught us one thing, it’s that whatever we end up getting will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest