Break out your best/worst chicken dance: Arrested Development is officially back.
Netflix confirmed on Wednesday that it has ordered a fifth season of the beloved, off-kilter comedy featuring a misfitted family in Orange County, California, whose patriarch made questionable money in real estate and may have committed some light treason along the way. The new episodes — of which there are 15 — will debut sometime in 2018.
While speculation about a re-revival has been swirling for a long time, the buzzing intensified on Friday when Jason Bateman, whose Michael anchors the Bluth family, tweeted that he had just inked a deal to make more episodes of the series that also starred David Cross, Tony Hale, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi, and Alia Shawkat. “Look very probable I’m going to put some miles on the Stair Car this summer,” he said. “Just officially signed on to more ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT today.” Last week, EW confirmed that the writers’ had already begun breaking stories for the new season. As Bateman indicated, the plan is to start shooting new episodes as early as this summer, and the entire cast is returning.
Arrested Development first aired on Fox from 2003 to 2006, scoring raves from critics — along with an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series — but never managing to find a wide audience. But after being canceled following a shortened third season, Arrested grew in cult status over the years, prompting Netflix to revive it in 2013 with a 15-episode fourth season, which marked the streaming service’s first attempt at an original series. It was not an easy challenge for Hurwitz and the writers to coordinate the actors’ schedules, as the stars were tied up on other projects. As a result, they created episodes that focused on individual characters — with Michael popping up in various stories to help anchor the show — rather than group scenes.
In a statement on Tuesday, Hurwitz coyly drew comparisons to President Donald Trump and his real estate family and empire. “In talks with Netflix, we all felt that stories about a narcissistic, erratically behaving family in the building business — and their desperate abuses of power — are really underrepresented on TV these days,” he said, adding, “I am so grateful to them and to 20th TV for making this dream of mine come true in bringing the Bluths, George Sr., Lucille and the kids; Michael, Ivanka, Don Jr., Eric, George-Michael, and who am I forgetting, oh Tiffany. Did I say Tiffany? — back to the glorious stream of life.”
“Arrested Development brings us structures, outerwear, and choreography like no other comedy in history,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “Season 4 marked the first foray by Netflix into original comedy programming, and this time, the Bluths will collectively be spending more quality time with their millions of fans around the world.”
“Arrested Development remains one of the iconic franchises we, Ron, and Brian are asked about most,” said Fox Television Group CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, whose studio produces the series. “It’s a testament to the brilliance of Mitch’s creation, the passion of his audience, and the love his cast holds in their hearts for his writing and characters that we have been able to ‘get the band back together’ not once but twice since the Emmy-winning original run. Get ready, America. The Bluths are coming back.”
Want more statements? You got ’em. “Whew! I can finally answer the question… Hell yes!” said narrator and executive producer Ron Howard. “Warming up my uncredited narrator vocal chords. Now the only thing I will have to be coy about is all the craziness the Bluths are going to face this season.” Added fellow exec producer Brian Grazer: “I love working with Mitch. He is a genius and the rarest of original thinkers. He brings a richness to the characters and the storylines that makes the series memorably fun.”
It is not yet known what those storylines might look like this time around. Back in 2013, Hurwitz said that season 4 would serve as prologue to a movie. But more recently, talk of more Arrested came in the context of a fifth season. Season 4 concluded on a murder mystery cliffhanger with the arrest of Buster (Hale) following the death of Lucille Two (Liza Minnelli). Hurwitz said that this story line was put into play before the true crime genre exploded (Serial, The Jinx, Making a Murderer, etc.). “There was a lot of Making a Murderer in there,” he said last year. “We quietly set up these guilty parties all over the place, and hopefully that won’t be old hat by now.”
But at that time, he also noted that there was material in season 4 that wound up feeling prescient (the construction of the wall, the political aspirations of de Rossi’s Lindsay) and it was unclear how that would impact his plan. “The fourth season was all about the Bluths building a wall,” Hurwitz told EW. “This was before he made that comment. Even then it felt a little trite to me, but I had enough twists in my head, I knew what we were going to do with it, I knew what the twist was, and I still don’t want to give that away…. But so much of what we were getting at [will] still be viable, Where we left things in season 4, Lindsay was becoming the Republican candidate arguing to put up this wall; even though she fought against it, she had completely flip-flopped. She was going to be running against her friend Sally Sitwell [Christine Taylor], but there were so many things that we had built into it that was all about Hispanic uprising, so I may pull back on that, just for comedic reasons, just because it might feel like a sketch, like too easy of a parody.”