Jason Bateman Blames Underwhelming Reception Of ‘Arrested Development’ On Netflix’s ‘Disingenuous’ Branding

Jason Bateman was on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast recently, and during his insightful and engaging interview, Bateman spoke about how Arrested Development basically brought his career back from the dead and allowed him to avoid becoming an actor who essentially peaked when he was 19 years old.

In fact, Bateman’s journey to landing the lead role in Arrested Development was a long shot, in and of itself. His agents tried to discourage Bateman from even auditioning for the part, telling him that the series didn’t have much of a chance of going anywhere. He auditioned, nevertheless, but didn’t expect much from it because he had “some baggage” and “sitcom stink” on him from earlier roles in movies like Teen Wolf Too and Harper’s Family. He didn’t think he’d even get an audition for it because he thought they’d see him as a former child-star hack.

But Bateman wanted to give it a go, anyway, because of the great pedigree involved, and Mitch Hurwitz had remembered him from an audition for a multi-cam show years before. Hurwitz gave him a shot, Bateman “guessed right when [he] went in there as far as how they wanted the character played,” and Hurwitz practically offered him the role on the spot. “He followed me out of the audition room,” Bateman told Maron, “and he said, ‘Hey. That was great. So, tomorrow you have another audition for a show I’m executive producing, right?”

Hurwitz — concerned that the network brass might like him for the other part — actually asked him not to audition for it because he wanted him for Arrested Development. “I don’t want the network to see you,” he said, “because I like you for this one.”

The rest, of course, is history. Arrested Development would be critically adored and low-rated. It would last only two-and-a-half seasons and, afterwards, Mitch Hurwitz and Jason Bateman would have to answer questions from the press about whether it’d come back for years!

And then it did. On Netflix.

There’s only one problem. It wasn’t as beloved in its “fourth season” as it was on Fox, but Bateman thinks part of the reason why is because Netflix branded it wrong.

“[The episodes] were meant to be the first act of a three-act story that Mitch had in his head. And the second two acts … are still yet to be told. He thought it would be fun to do the first act in some episodes. And that’s what that was, but Netflix called it ‘season four,’ which was a little disingenuous because it implied that the show was coming back. And that’s not what the show was, because each episode was about an individual character, and I think it was a little confusing and frankly underwhelming for the audience. That was unfortunate. It wasn’t branded honestly. Or correctly, I should say.”

As far as whether there will be a season five — or a “second or third act” — Bateman told Marc Maron, “There is no plan. There are those remaining two acts, but I don’t know what format they will take, or if they will ever happen.”

That’s not exactly in line with what producer Brian Grazer has said about the return. He told Bill Simmons that there would be 17 more episodes. That’s news, apparently, to Bateman.

(Via WTF with Marc Maron)