When I first heard about “Arrested Development,” the synopsis I read included a description of the relationship between George Michael Bluth (Michael Cera) and Maeby Funke (Alia Shawkat), and my first thought was that it sounded incredibly tasteless and silly.
Now, of course, I’d say the opposite. I think the way the relationship between the two of them has been handled over the course of the show speaks to the way Mitchell Hurwitz and his amazing writing staff handle even the most difficult material. George Michael and Maeby are better people than any of the adults in their families. Maeby is a giant con artist, but is it any wonder? She would rather create one fantasy world after another than deal with the reality of Lindsay and Tobias, who can barely function as individuals, much less as a couple.
When I met Michael Cera for the first time, “Arrested Development” was already in his past, and while many of the cast members have been hounded by questions about the possibility of a return of the show, Cera has always somewhat avoided the issue, building a body of work for himself that stands separate from the show. When you’re a young actor and you’re known for one thing, I can see why you would want to show that you’re able to play a range of things and you aren’t just that one role. I thought the most interesting thing about his return to the series was the idea that he was part of the writer’s room this time, giving him say in the fate of the Bluths.
Alia Shawkat created such a strong character with Maeby, and she’s got insane timing. It’s hard to believe she was a kid during the first run of episodes because the work she did is so mature, so sly. I feel like she’s been criminally underused as an adult, and maybe that’s because she doesn’t fit into a cookie-cutter Hollywood definition of “attractive.” I think she’s flat out adorable, and nobody wore giant flip-flops more fetchingly than Maeby did, but she doesn’t look like she came out of a Barbie box, and that can confound those who cast movies.
All I know is seeing the two of them together again in the episode I saw, that chemistry was immediately apparent again, and sitting down to talk to the two of them together, I felt like I was sitting down with old friends. I’ve got a lot of affection for the characters and the performers, and this was a delight to do on a Saturday morning.
“Arrested Development” is back on the air in just a few days via NetFlix. I can hardly believe I just typed that sentence.