Arrested Development – Season 4, Episode 8 “Red Hairing” Review

Rating: 8.3

What’s one way to make politics on Arrested Development fun and also a little sad? Throw in a little Lindsay. We all know she has always protested conservative values in her own…spirited way, but this time Lindsay is not just on a quest to piss off her mother. She’s trying to find out who she is

The answer that is revealed at the end of the episode is a bit surprising in some ways, and not so much in others. The main drawback of the episode (and the reason why I’m not rating it on par with the GOB or the Tobias/Debrie ones) is that trying to chart Lindsay’s “progress” as a character is stupefying. She has always been the kind of person who just aligns herself with whoever will show her affection, whoever will need her, and most importantly, whoever will give her money or shelter.

This is why it is hard to care about whatever progress she does make, and watching it happen is entertaining, but perplexing. In order to have it all make sense, the show is starting to rely (in my opinion) too heavily on narration. I have often been one to excuse voice over narration when done well, but when it’s used this much in order to explain what’s going on, I start to feel that something is lacking in the exposition department. This could just be my personal preference, but I feel like it detracts from the more important elements that make this show great: the improvised scenes between the great ensemble cast.

What makes this episode worth watching is Portia de Rossi’s total commitment to Lindsay’s character, as well as the seamless integration of old jokes into new situations. Portia has always been a standout actor in the ensemble to me, simply because when I watch her, she IS Lindsay, and her line delivery is always spot on: totally fake in the most genuine way. As for the jokes, I actually had some “a-HA!” moments when a key line was repeated or when an old joke was dusted off. I was genuinely caught up in the escapades to the point where the use of the old gags was pleasantly surprising, but not out of place.

Even though trying to connect with Lindsay is a little difficult (as it is with most of the adult characters on the show), she does reveal vulnerability much like GOB in his episode. I still felt sorry for her, and did understand her desires, but maybe not her choices. I think this is the artful balance Arrested Development has struck with its characters—making them at once seem like family while functioning like a lost alien race.

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