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The 20 Most Obscure ‘Arrested Development’ Pop Culture References

Nothing on Arrested Development was accidental. Every line, every background poster, every blue smudge was meant to be there. It was a show for the Internet before we realized that the Internet could be used to track Tobias’s homoerotic comments. Yesterday, Dustin brought you 25 of AD‘s best blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gags, and today, as a semi-companion piece, I’ve collected some of the show’s most obscure, lightning fast pop culture references.

Again, remember that nearly everything on AD was a reference to something, so nothing should considered coincidental. (Also, I’ve excluded obvious examples, like the Peanuts motif from “Good Grief.”) Taste the references.

#1. To prove his worth as an actor, Tobias quotes Steve Martin’s “exxxxccccuuuussseeee me” character from his stand-up routine, but moves his body like another of Martin’s characters, Yortuk “Wild and Crazy Guy” Festrunk.

#2. Lucille invites Tobias’s stew-loving acting coach, Carl Weathers, to dinner with Lucille 2 by asking, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” That’s also the name of a 1967 movie about a white woman (Katharine Houghton) who brings a black man (Sidney Poitier) to, well, dinner. No stew was had.

#3. Note the truck to the right, behind Cindi Lightballoon. It’s for a pet grooming company, a reference to Jane Lynch’s character in Best in Show, in which she played a pet groomer.

#4. Maybe this one’s not so much pop culture-related, but it’s still pretty cute: Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band Solution folk group was underwritten by the Natural Life Food Company, a division of ChemGrow, which itself was an Allyn-Crane Acquisition. “Allyn-Crane” is the surname of an Arrested Development fan who sent the writers cookies. As a thank you, the staff mailed her a copy of the “Best Man for the Gob” script.

#5. “Face it Lindsay, they’ve won.” Long-haired hippie Dave “Gruber” Allen utters that line in both Arrested Development, when his group of protestors flee from the Free Protest Zone, and in Freaks and Geeks, while giving guidance counselor advice to Lindsay Weir. Paul Feig created Freaks and directed this episode of AD.

#6. The tagline for Tom Jane’s Junk, “They Shoot Heroin, Don’t They?” intentionally calls to mind Sydney Pollack’s 1969 classic, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? I bet Junk is better, though.

#7. The first two episodes of season two are titled “The One Where Michael Leaves” and “The One Where They Build a House.” followed by episode three, “¡Amigos!” Beginning every episode with “The One Where/With…” was something Friends did for its entire 10-season run. As for “¡Amigos!” I have no idea what that means.

#8. It’s tough to make out, but Buster’s emasculated military commander is named Sergeant Baker, which is also the name of the man who created the World War II-era comic strip Sad Sack, which is ALSO the name of this episode, which is ALSO a reference to Barry’s “those are balls” revelation.

#9. Tobias should know better than to sing “New York, New York” in front of Lucille 2, who sighs, “Everyone thinks they’re Frank Sinatra.” Although Ol’ Blue Eyes’ cover of the song is the version everyone knows, Liza Minnelli sang it first, for a Martin Scorsese movie of the same name, two years before Sinatra.

#10. Moses Taylor is not only a great name, but a nod to Charlton Heston, who played Moses in The Ten Commandments and Taylor in Planet of the Damn Dirty Apes. Heston was also, of course, a major gun advocate.

#11. Even one of Arrested Development‘s most famous moments is a reference. Every time Buster screams, “I’M A MONSTER,” he’s actually quoting an oft-repeated line from the 1946 drama The Best Years of Our Lives, starring Harold Russell as a solider who lost both his hands in combat.

#12. To quote the Narrator, when talking about Motherboy: The Dance, “Motherboy was also a heavy-metal band that used to rock pretty hard in the ’70s. We are legally obligated to make the distinction.” Arrested Development is the name of a TV show, but it was also the name of an early 1990s hip-hop group (you probably know the three singles from 3 Years, 5 Months, & 2 Days in the Life Of…, and that’s about it) that later sued Fox for the similarity.

#13. As the man who speaks for Homer Simpson, Dan Castellaneta is one of the world’s most famous totally anonymous actors. That voice, though, it’s so distinctive, and after he says, “The operator went smoothly, but once I got in there, the appendix wasn’t so inflamed…d’oh,” Lucille exclaims, “I knew it!”

#14. Golden Girls reference on Arrested Development? Golden Girls reference on Arrested Development. In “Spring Breakout,” Michael tries to check Lucille into Shady Pines Rehab Center. Shady Pines was also the name of the retirement community where Estelle Getty’s Sophia lived. AD creator Mitchell Hurwitz wrote for The Golden Girls.

#15. Oscar Bluth’s inmate number: 24601. MY DUTY’S TO THE LAW, YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS.

#16. The entire subplot of George getting stuck in the walls, resulting in Buster having to pretend to be him through a surrogate, is a direct homage to Being John Malkovich.

#17. This one must have been a big hit in the writers’ room: Maeby’s film Snowboarding School 2 is a spoof of the 2005 direct-to-DVD movie, Frostbite, which was produced Jim Vallely, who also wrote “S.O.B.s.”

#18. Does the line “Why do there have to be puppets like Frank?” sound familiar? Well, it should, because if it doesn’t, that means you haven’t seen David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. “Why are there people like Frank?” Kyle MacLachlan asks, not about a black puppet, but Dennis Hopper’s sadistic PBR drinker.

#19. Arrested Development always had an odd fascination with Alias, from Tobias directly mentioning it early in the show’s run to mimicking the way it would establish local changes in its then-penultimate episode.

#20. I wonder how AD‘s Nellie, played by Porta de Rossi, would get along with Ally McBeal‘s Nelle, played by Porta de Rossi?

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