Just How Gay is “Arrested Development”?

Gay Arrested Development

On Sunday Netflix unleashed the long-awaited fourth season of critical and cult hit Arrested Development onto an audience rabid for a chocolate-covered-banana fix. Most of us have only had time to get through a handful of episodes, and so far the reactions to the slightly tweaked new format (the new season focuses on a single Bluth family member for each episode, building toward a conflagration of massively dysfunctional proportions) and the relative quality of the new eps seem to be mixed. (I am on the eighth episode and after some initial reservations am all-in – just get through the first few eps, which are the weakest, and you’ll be fine.)

Seven-year hiatus and narrative structure aside, the new season features many of the standbys that made us fall in love with the show in the first place: the model home, GOB‘s lousy magic acts, Ann Veal, “Marry me!”, and of course the gay jokes.

Yes, since the very first episode – when Lucille Bluth (the luminous Jessica Walter) accused “the homosexuals” of trying to ruin her yacht party by staging a demonstration nearby – the show has regularly worked gay jokes into its rapid-fire satirical assault on the revered television family unit. And many people didn’t find it funny. Relentless gags about the sexuality of Tobias Funke (David Cross) fell flat with many viewers, as did non-PC jokes about gender identity (as when Maeby tries to convince her love interest that her mother was born a man to get him to stop being interested in her) and frequent appearances by Hot Cops, Queen Mary Dancers, and other assorted frivolous queens who had nothing better to do than strip, dance, and throw shade.

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David Cross as Tobias Funke

You may have been offended by these jokes, and you may not. I personally was too busy laughing to care, and I really never got the sense that the show was using the humor maliciously. Honestly, once you stumble across the wordplay brilliance of “Analrapist”, how can you NOT put it on a business card?!

Now that the show is back for another round of Bluth insanity, the gay jokes are back, too – and the show hasn’t backed off a bit. (Read: “ANUSTART”.) To prepare for the new season, let’s look at some of the show’s gay high- and lowlights – and we’ll throw in a few minor spoilers of gay bits that we’ve already come across in season four.

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1. Hot Cops, the Queen Mary Dancers, and the Gothic Asshole

The various strippers, gay activists and homo hangouts that regularly pop up on the show are proudly ridiculous stereotypes of gay culture played for easy laughs. But half of the time, the jokes are actually pretty funny – like the time that Tobias’ cab driver drops him off at leather bar the Gothic Asshole instead of the Gothic Castle and once inside the oblivious Tobias forms the Whips-and-Snaps Barbershop Quartet. It’s too ridiculous to take seriously – and who wouldn’t want to see Whips-and-Snaps?! Plus, while the Hot Cops are not necessarily gay, the homoerotic situations they are often placed in and the considerable eye candy they lend to an otherwise mostly skinless show are quite a treat for gay viewers.

Sure, the gay extras are generally rather frivolous and silly – but they’re also clearly enjoying themselves far more than anyone else on the show.

2. Liza with a Diz-zy

Liza. Effing. Minnelli. With vertigo. It’s like she’s stuck in an infinite loop of that scene in Cabaret in the ballroom of Max’s mansion. AND IT IS GLORIOUS.

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