It’s been how many years now since Arrested Development went off the air? Oh jeez, I’ve lost count. I do know it started about eight or nine years ago, and that’s when I started watching. I’ve also lost track of how many people I’ve introduced it to, of course then needing to watch it along with them. This also means I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen the series through.
This past month, my husband (whom I introduced to it, of course) just watched the series through for the second time. And I got to watch him watch Arrested Development. I remember him two years ago watching it for the first time. It was strange how I looped back so quickly to the memory. The two of us – not a couple, but roommates; those days of awkward flirting still ahead of us – and our other old roommates from The Commune, sitting in that old backyard, on that old rickety wooden patio furniture, with my old laptop plugged into an extension cord, watching my old Arrested Development DVDs, and drinking that old stack of booze that one other temporary roommate left behind.
Dr. Roommate was there that night. I don’t know if
Boy Roommate Boyfriend Husband’s first time through was her second-time through or third, or even fourth, but I was reminded then, that night, of her first time watching it. That was before The Commune was even The Commune, it was just a dingy basement suite in South Vancouver; and we were really just roommates then: two people who did their undergrad together and thought they might be able to live with each other. Now we’re family. And not just in the we’re so close we’re practically family sense, but in the we are actually related now (by marriage) sense.
And now Dr. Roommate is legally a medical doctor. Not just a medical student. Boy Roommate is my husband. No one lives in that house in South Vancouver. Husband and I are moving to England. Dr. Roommate is moving to Calgary.
So it goes.
Life is changing. Life has changed.
I watched Arrested Development with my sister for her first time when her and I were backpacking around Europe. That was five years ago. England actually had an economy. God knows what mess awaits us there now. My sister didn’t even know her partner then. He was a figment of her future imagination in just the same way Husband was in mine. So many other things began – and ended – within those five years: film school, pirates in space, and revolutions. So many people we thought would still be here are gone. And so many small children we didn’t expect to show up are here: conceived, birthed; walking, talking human beings.
And all that occurred even after Arrested Development went off the air. When it was still on, things were even more different. It was like two lifetimes ago. I lived in the house I grew up in. I had a different partner. I had a different job. I was happy. And then I was miserable. And then I was happy again. Miserable again. Happy again. And on it went, and on it goes.
Life is evolution. Sometimes it happens so gradually you don’t realize how different the end result is from the beginning until you stop and compare. Other times it’s a stepped equilibrium, with a period of prolonged stasis broken suddenly by radical change. Usually it’s a bit of both. The drastic changes steal your notice away from the small ones.
So when Arrested Development comes back on Sunday, what sort of strange beast will it seem? If we are to pretend that it’s been evolving slowly over the last seven/eight (ish) years, nature would deem it a chimera: some new fantastical creature we barely recognize. Yet if we get the “same again” feeling, it will ring false.
Husband and I have discussed at length about how much Arrested Development is a product of the Bush Administration. Explicit references aside, the overall feel of the show, of what it holds to light and what it satirizes, is so tied to an American life that existed before 2008: before Obama, before the recession, before the Arab Spring.
What has happened to that American life now? Where did it go and what happened to the who lived it? How are they still living?
I really can’t wait to see that. It will be like flipping through an old yearbook, but one where the candidate voted “Most Likely to Succeed” steps from the page (likely as an animated gif), and speaks with a deeper, craggier voice to say: “I did not succeed as you thought I would, but I redefined success. And that has made the difference.”