It’s been almost three weeks since the NY Times interview with (most of) the cast of Arrested Development made waves, and three days less than that since the fifth season of the show premiered on Netflix. Last night, I debated what to turn on to pass my evening (Mammia Mia briefly crossed my mind, since my girlfriend says it’s egregious I haven’t watched it, but I decided to delay that to get her to watch it with me and a bottle of wine, shhh don’t tell her). After some consideration, I decided to put on the new season of Arrested Development.
I was originally ignoring the show because of the above linked interview, and the disappointment and anger I felt at the male cast members seeming to castigate Jessica Walter for making Jeffrey Tambor “feel bad” for something terrible he had done to her. I know it doesn’t sound like my comedy hunger strike lasted long, but trust: Arrested Development is one of my favorite shows of all time. I have rewatched the original three seasons more than a dozen times, and I even made time to rewatch the 4th season in its original format, then again when it was recut as Fateful Consequences. When Season 4 originally premiered, I stayed up until midnight to catch it right as it went live on Netflix.
What swayed my decision to turn on the show, (ultimately the crux of my condemnation of just about every man involved in the Times interview): I listened to Jessica Walter. The root cause of the problem with the interview was them not listening to and empathizing with Walter. Walter’s tragedy in that interview was the men not listening to her pain, to her grace, to her continued hurt and instead telling her how to feel and defending Tambor.
Walter may not have had to forgive Tambor, being angry is her right and how much duress she offered that grace to her costar under is something we can all speculate. However, what I also hear from her is that she loves this show. She loves getting to play Lucille, and in her own words, she’d keep doing it till the day the good Lord takes her if we let her- even in spite of Tambor.
I hear that, I respect that, and it sucks that terrible/mediocre men get to benefit from it. If Walter, a woman with her own agency, is on board with the show then I won’t ignore art she’s glad to make for us. I’ll strongly reconsider supporting other Tambor and Bateman work, but rather than ignoring Arrested Development because of them, I’m going to watch it for Jessica Walter and Alia Shawkat.
I urge everyone to give it a try as well if you’re on the fence or haven’t gotten to it yet. I’m only two episodes in and may do a full perspective when I get through it, but already there have been some great moments. The show’s fifth season is doing a lot with the fallout of “the punch” between George Michael and his father, and further it’s giving Lucille some real depth and range in scenes with Tobias that feel like the comedy sitcom equivalent of the Joker in police custody from The Dark Knight.
Jessica Walter, they can’t stop your shine and it’s a shame they get to benefit from it, but I see you. I hear you.