Ranking the Arrested Development Seasons

It is frankly artistically tragic that Arrested Development seems to be hardly discussed anymore as one of the great comedic accomplishments in television history. Let’s dive into why and how much it is deserved.


5. Season 5: The Lost Season

Before the final season of one of the most (at one time) beloved shows to ever exist aired, it was clear that the show was extremely behind the eight ball. Season 4 was one of the most anticipated reboots ever. But the initial edit of season 4 of Arrested Development was such a DUD that everyone seemingly stopped caring about the show.

Then, on the eve of the season 5 episode dump, there was an insanely gruesome and uncomfortable cast interview where Jessica Walter revealed the abusive conditions of working with Jeffrey Tambor – only for the majority of the cast to circle the wagons in that very interview. It was one of those pop culture moments where the world just quickly agrees to no longer care about this thing. And fittingly, I never knew of anyone who ended up watching it.

Years later, I finally went into these uncharted waters. And it was truly one of the worst seasons of television I have ever seen.

The two biggest weaknesses of season 4 (even after the great re-edit) were still at work. They once again decided to just not embrace the time difference. The actors look older and in some cases had physically changed a lot. And the show just pretended that was not happening, and it is just fundamentally weird.

The second issue is just how goddamn convoluted the season is. The re-editing of season 4 gave that season a great energy that helped to cover for some of the story issues. No such energy exists in this final season of Arrested. There are a billion story threads and hardly any of them make sense.


4. Season 4: Fateful Consequences

After years of rumors, speculation, hype, and anticipation, Arrested Development became a rare (at the time) revived beloved show. And after nearly a decade of waiting, the show returned…and was absolutely terrible. I mean it was just terrible. It was boring. Way too long. Insanely convoluted. It had to be one of the most disappointing collective pop culture moments in history. And with rapid speed, everyone stopped caring about Arrested Development.

People stopped caring about Arrested Development so much that I knew nobody who was aware that the season was completely re-edited and re-released five years later. Now, under normal circumstances, that would truly not matter much. But this re-edit (called Fateful Consequences) fixed the most glaring issue with season 4.

The initial edit of the show featured 15 super-length episodes that mostly just focused on one character. The Fateful Consequences version re-edited the show into 22 episodes arranged chronically instead of focusing on individual characters. These choices erased the worst aspects of the season and made it a perfectly fun season of television. The characters not interacting with each other much certainly put a lower ceiling on everything do not get me wrong. But the new version is simply funny and worth watching.


3. Season 3: Mr. F.

I have gotten into disagreements with people about this, but I stand firm that this season represented a dip in quality compared to the first two seasons. That being said, revisiting it all these years later did at least prove that it was way better than I remembered.

The biggest element that ages much better than I expected was the Mr. F deal. This was just kind of gross and uncomfortable when I was younger. Now at least the absurdity and dramatic irony made me laugh more.

The biggest issue that time has not solved though are all the rushed developments at the end. It feels like the show tried to do a whole second half worth of stories in the final few episodes, and it was more distracting than compelling (let alone funny).


2. Season 2: A Worthy Sequel

On my Arrested Development rewatch, I was on the lookout for a couple of things. One of the big ones was that I wanted to see if there were cracks in the foundation in season 2 before the decline that started in season 3. It turns out, the show was still pretty fucking strong. I think it could be argued that the show was running out of compelling stories, and that **definitely** was a problem after this season. But everything is still good enough to not really think anything is seriously wrong at this point. Almost everything is just as good as it was in the first season.


1. Season 1: It’s Arrested Development

Perfection. Every line. Every beat. Every characterization. Just perfection. When you watch back the first season of Arrested Development, you truly feel like you’re still watching something fresh and new even twenty years later. It is one of the best seasons of television that has ever been made. The reputation of the show fell off for various reasons over the years, and it causes some creeping doubt to seep into your perception of it. But do not worry, this is a fantastic season of television.


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