Arrested Development – Season 4, Episode 2 “Borderline Personalities” Review

Rating: 7.5

I realize I’m coming at this experience a tad differently than everyone else in Netflixland, but bear with me here. I sort of enjoy watching these episodes with some time in between to digest. It is actually giving me valuable insight not only on this current season, but past ones as well.

The reason I gave George Senior’s episode a lower score than last week’s is about 80% selfish: I simply don’t find George Senior that compelling of a character when he is brought to the forefront. I did like seeing a little more of a background glimpse into he and Lucille planning things. I love Jeffrey Tambor’s acting, and oftentimes notice it (in an appreciative way) more than with the other actors. I just really don’t care about the business “ventures” that fund the Bluth family’s dysfunction.

The dirty dealings just don’t inspire me, but I understand their importance in relation to everything else going on. Without the backdrop of the American business the stakes wouldn’t be nearly as high, and hence the comedy would probably suffer. For me, the only downside that can come from this writing format is when an episode chooses to focus on an aspect of the show I don’t particularly care about.

The upside of that downside is, however, that it is helping me realize more about why I like the show; as I said last week, the format is in itself a reason to love the new season, and even though this episode was not the strongest it could have been, I still am excited for more. There were some quick and subtle callbacks, and the cameos were my favorite part. I am still wondering how many other people loved seeing Karen Maruyama, actress and sometimes improviser on Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Coming back in July! Check back here for reviews by yours truly! Shameless plugging!).

Buster also is serving as a great addition of silliness when everything else seems to be getting a little dark or when the newer jokes just weren’t seeming as strong. George Senior’s connection with and then exploitation of his brother Oscar was to me the most interesting part of the episode, as it pains me a little bit to watch Oscar interact with this family that doesn’t really function as the family he wants or deserves.

Even though I don’t particularly care about the “struggle” of floundering businessman George Bluth Senior, I think that American commerce serves as a great stage for the Bluths. The show’s presumably American audience obviously loves the tomfoolery of these oftentimes vapid, once-wealthy people, probably because it’s fun to laugh at the American Dream and those silly enough to pursue it. It’s also fun to be able to poke fun at oneself; our deals of freedom of choice (which the Bluth’s take so far) and laze faire economics (which the Bluth’s exploit to the extreme) can come in close conflict with social order, and highlighting that inconsistency is another aspect of what makes this show great (and, thankfully, now popular).

This episode wasn’t as entertaining as I would have hoped, thought it still gave me some food for thought, and a few genuine laughs. It was well-made, well-paced, and well-edited, but the content just wasn’t my cup of tea. There is still much more to come, however. If Barry Zuckerkorn can be a lawyer, than Arrested Development can still prevail.

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