The 20 Most Obscure ‘Arrested Development’ Pop Culture References

Senior Pop Culture Editor
05.22.13 35 Comments
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.

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