I always felt like the now defunct show, 30 Rock, worked best when the main character, Liz Lemon, was a normal person in the midst of abnormal circumstances. She was my conduit into the crazy, zany world of high-powered executives, diva superstars and country bumpkin pages, without feeling like I was any of them. No matter how insane the plots became or how implausible the storylines, I could relate to Liz and her frustrations. The show was dynamite in Seasons 1 & 2. And then Liz became weird, too. It started slowly with a few “working woman” plots and then “I can’t get a date” and then “I’m so quirky” and before you knew it, she was just as wacky as Tracey or Jenna. When it’s all animals and no zookeeper … there’s going to be a lot of poop.
Which brings me to the latest “season” of Arrested Development. Michael was the normal person in the midst of abnormal circumstances. He grounded the show and Seasons 1 & 2 were dynamite. And then, in Season 3, Michael dated a mentally handicapped person and the show was soon cancelled. But there was still some love because, if nothing else, the writing crackled on that show.
Season 4 is more art project than sitcom. It is wildly ambitious with a darkness to match. Shockingly dark. For all the talk of a movie, it sure feels like the creators wanted to salt the Earth so that nothing else would grow.
That’s not to say it’s not hilarious* or ingenious, but it’s not the same sort of dysfunction it once was. Dystopian dysfunction, perhaps?
And I blame Michael’s character journey for that. He Liz Lemon’d it. Or to put it in the show’s vernacular: He blue’d himself.