Arrested Development is one of my favorite shows ever. I used to religiously watch it to fall asleep every single night during college. I have seen every episode a minimum of 10 times and can quote most of the show backwards and forwards. I include Lucille Bluth as one of my all-time role models. I was once Tobias Fünke for Halloween complete with the denim shorts and blue face paint. I have 6-degrees of separation to the cast and it makes me feel a good 33% cooler than it should, but nonetheless is something I find so awesome.
Arrested Development is one of my favorite shows ever. And there’s not a chance in hell I’m going to watch the new season.
In November of 2017, Jeffrey Tambor, patriarch George Bluth on Arrested Development, was accused of sexual harassment by his former assistant Van Barnes and co-star on the show Transparent, Trace Lysette. In the same month, makeup artist Tamara Delbridge made her own accusations against Tambor saying that similar things happened to her on the set of the movie Never Again in 2001. Tambor was fired from Transparent, and while he’s continued to deny the allegations he did apologize for “any discomfort he may have caused” and any actions of his that may have been “misinterpreted.”
Shooting of the 5th season of Arrested Development had wrapped by this point, but Tambor’s costars rallied in support behind him. David Cross criticized Amazon Studios (the production company behind Transparent) for not releasing the results of their internal investigations, Jason Bateman expressed that he would always have love for his TV father, and Netflix confirmed that Tambor’s scenes would remain in the show despite the harassment and abuse allegations surrounding his past behavior.
Months later, in early May of 2018, Tambor finally broke his silence and sat down with The Hollywood Reporter. While he still denied ever sexually harassing anyone, Tambor admitted to being in his words, “difficult” and “mean.” He recalled stories of screaming at Jill Soloway (the creator and director of Transparent), Bridget Bedard (an executive producer of Transparent), and recalled an incident where he had a “blowup” towards Jessica Walter, who plays Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development. In his words, “Lines got blurred.”
At the time of The Hollywood Reporter redemption article, Walter’s only statement was, “Jessica does not wish to talk about Jeffrey Tambor.”
But in a New York Times article published on May 23, 2018 it became abundantly clear just how toxic the seeping support of Tambor, and men like him, can quickly spiral and become.
When the “elephant in the room” aka: 73-year-old Tambor’s behavior, was brought up, the predominantly male cast rallied once again in support of Tambor. Jason Bateman even said that there’s no way he would ever do the show without Tambor being included.
But when the conversation turned to Jessica Walter’s own abusive experience with Tambor, one that she quote, “never would have brought it up,” the interview took a very twisted turn.
Bateman and Cross both completely dominated the conversation, talking over a near-tears Walter and mansplaining about how things like screaming at a castmate apparently are “learning experiences” and how sometimes it’s a “collision” of “different people’s processes.” Bateman even cited that in Hollywood people are just “difficult” alluding that this sort of behavior and incidents are just something to accept in the entertainment industry. Alia Shawkat, the only other woman present at the interview, tried to reinforce that that’s not an excuse to be disrespectful, but the male actors of the show continued to provide excuses about how contextually, it would be “okay” to verbally abuse your co-star.
Bateman, as of May 24th, has since apologized for the horribly uncomfortable interview, and for ignoring Walter’s own perspective as the victim in the situation.
And so here we are.
This is a show that I absolutely love, that I have found such comfort in since it aired on Fox in 2003. But this is a show that is a prime example of what happens when we do not hold people, specifically men, accountable for their actions. It’s a prime example of when there’s reoccurring bad behavior, especially that someone has by their own omission admitted to, “sorry” isn’t good enough.
How many apologies does someone get before sorry isn’t sufficient? How many people need to be affected before a “slap on the wrist” (which Tambor says he expected after the Transparent accusations) isn’t enough?
How many times do you brush off the terrible things someone does before enough is enough?
Well for me seeing how quickly some men will rally behind another man in spite of even witnessing his shitty behavior was my “enough.”
Because here’s the thing:
What “I’m learning and growing” means when we’re talking about abuse is “I’m saying this because I got caught.” What “in the context” means when we’re talking about harassment is, “here’s why they deserved it.” And what “He apologized,” really means when you have to keep saying it for the same type of actions is, “Will you just shut up and let this go?”
But we can’t let this go. Or at least I can’t. When you’re complicit in allowing toxicity to continue, you’re just as bad as the person shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Welp guess another line got blurred!”
I have to admit, I’m really disappointed in Arrested Development. I would have loved to watch Lindsay Bluth Fünke messily run for Congress, see the return of the David muscle suit on Michael Cera, and see if/when the return of the Never Nude jorts comes into play.
But I can’t in good conscious watch and wonder, “Huh wonder who they’re pretending he didn’t harass this season.”
This is a story of what happens when we refuse to hold people accountable for their actions. This is a story about what happens when we don’t shut up and listen to victims, and instead ask for things like “context” and “personality.”
This is a story of a family who lost everything, and this viewer is absolutely one of them.