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Power Rankings: Arrested Development Characters, Part 1

19 Jun

The gang's all here

I promised more Arrested Development posts, and I meant to deliver.  Here’s my power rankings of the nine main characters in the show, in order from least favorite to favorite.  This covers the course of all four seasons, so spoiler alert is in effect if you haven’t finished yet. My opinions have largely remained the same since I watched the first three seasons years ago, but with some slight tweaks due to both rewatching the old episodes recently and watching the new ones.  I’d like to add the important caveat that they’re all great.  There are no bad characters, but, like ranking Beatles albums or Sopranos seasons, something has to be last.  In addition, just for your special edification, every character will be accompanied by a favorite quote of mine. The rankings became slightly unwieldy as I was writing them so I broke them up into two – this is part one.  Now, on to the rankings.

9. Lindsay – Sorry, someone has to be last.  I know I pointed it this out just a couple sentences ago, but I think it’s important to say again.  There are no bad characters.  All nine are great and I love all of them! So think of this less as an insult and more as well, the ninth best compliment. Lindsay is the vainest and the most entitled Bluth (which says a lot for a family with G.O.B.. in it).  Lindsay doesn’t get as many chances to be as funny as a lot of the other characters, but she has her best moments playing on both her vanity and her sense of entitlement.  She also draws from her constant inner conflict between her idealistic dreams of activism and the fact that she’s uninterested in giving up any of the entitlements required to pursue activism, or in learning about what she’s advocating for or against.  Her highlights from the new season involved exactly these contrasts, including her interactions at the Four Seasons Mumbai. In her interaction with the shaman there, which she turns to to speak for spiritual advice, she assumes he is hitting on her.  She tries hard and partly falls for mega activist Marky Bark, but eventually instead succumbs to the glamour of Herman Cain-like conservative candidate Herbert Love who showers her with gifts.

Best Quote:  “He was the house shaman at the Four Seasons Mumbai, so you figure he’s got to be pretty good. Oh, and he turned into an ostrich at the end, so … they’re not gonna have that at the Embassy Suites.” – Season 4, Episode 3, “Indian Takers”

8. George Sr. –   George Sr. doesn’t get quite as many great laugh lines as some of the other characters (a trait the characters that sit at the bottom of these rankings share), and his plots and personality seem to vary the most among the characters, as he gets into some of the weirdest situations.  He goes from a white collar criminal surprisingly loving his time in jail to a sham prophet hawking a series of DVDs to a stir crazy prison refugee hiding out in the model home attic.  His level of competence seems to bounce back and forth more than any other character, and he alternates brilliant prison escapes with believing that he and his wife can’t be convicted of the same crime (to be fair, he had the worst lawyers). Probably my favorite of these phases is his attic hide out, which leads to his wonderful tea parties with the dolls left up there and his wearing of Michael’s dead wife’s maternity clothes.  Tambor’s more impressive acting job may actually be as George’s hippie twin brother Oscar, who gets a pretty juicy part in the fourth season.

Best Line:  ” If you play me, you got to play me like a man and not like some mincing little Polly or Nellie! I get those names confused. Apology. (to dolls) Apologies all around.” – Season 2, Episode 13, “Motherboy XXX”

7  Maeby – Maeby gets the shortest shrift throughout the show, even moreso than Lindsay and George Sr..  She can be very funny when she gets a chance to shine, but she generally gets slightly less of a chance than everyone else.  She’s one of only three characters not to get two starring episodes in the most recent season. While reading over many of her lines, a surprisingly small amount stand out for a show so quotable.  My favorite Maeby plot, which is pretty much what gets her above George and Lindsay to begin with, is her time as a movie executive which began in the second season.  This plotline both gave her a chance to put her superior bullshitting skills to good use and gave her a chance to venture outside of her original gimmick of liking Steve Holt and desperately wanting her parents to notice her. The new season made the most of Maeby’s talents in her episode.  Her continued lying and her ability think on her feat continued to get her far, but also brought her down.  My favorite recurring quote of hers in the series is “Marry Me!” interspersed with the occasional “Babysit Me” but since that works at least in part because of its repeated nature, I’ve chosen a quote I enjoyed from the new season below.

Best Line:  “So you can all go (bleep) yourselves! What? Sure. Please welcome the talented voices of Phineas and Ferb. Go (bleep) yourself!” – Season 4, Episode 12: “Señoritis”

I'm a Monster!

6.  Buster – Buster’s a great introductory character character, particularly because his humor is often loud. A lot of his best moments involve physical humor, particularly once he has a hook for a hand as well as his giant hand in the new season.  His devotion to his mother veers well into creepy territory, and he’s probably the most disturbing of any of the main characters, which in this show is saying a lot.  This is particularly on display in the new season, when he puts on a Psycho routine, constructing his own Lucille while she’s away in jail, and making her cocktails.  Many of the characters in Arrested Development are horrible people but Buster is the only one where I occasionally worry if there’s actually something wrong with him.  Of course there are plenty more lighter moments, where Buster’s just being a clueless idiot.  The early introduction of Buster in the first episode seems to indicate that, due to his continuous graduate studies, he’s book smart, but has no common sense. As the show goes on though, it’s hard to imagine him being even book smart.  He gets a little bit short-changed in the new episodes, largely I think because he was busy filming Veep, but he has some good moments with his new giant hand, even if it’s no hook.  His refrain of “I’m a monster”  after he acquires the hook is his best repeated catch phrase.

Best Line: “These are my awards, Mother. From Army. The seal is for marksmanship, and the gorilla is for sand racing. Now if you’ll excuse me, they’re putting me in something called Hero Squad.” – Season 2, Episode 6, “Afternoon Delight”

5 through 1 on Part 2, coming soon.