Golden Girls + Sopranos - Focus Group = Arrested Development

Filed Under Sitcom

Great details on the process of making “Arrested Development” in the AV Club’s interview with creator Mitchell Hurwitz. Earlier I wondered just how Hurwitz’s time on the “Golden Girls” helped him with “Arrested.” He clarifies here that his (and Arrested’s) style of intertwined storylines and connecting disparate elements developed because he felt he lacked the “hard joke” style demanded by “Golden Girls.” The influence is indirect, but makes total sense to me now.

Mitchell often attributes “The Sopranos” as an influence and that too is made more clear here. Though it’s easy to see how characters like Gob and Buster are flawed, to Mitchell even Jason Bateman’s Michael is flawed, but in a sympathetic way like Tony Soprano. Hurwitz details insight into the character that reveals why this show is so dense. There is a lot going on with these people. Earlier in the interview Mitchell talks about how many writers use shorthand to create characters (in “Arrested,” a conservative brother and a liberal sister). What’s obvious after reading the interview is how many other creators stop there.

Also in the interview is the harrowing tale of how “Arrested Development” tested. The desire of executives to put their “no” in someone else’s hands has developed into a ridiculous attempt to scientifically monitor enjoyment by a simple dial. Though Hurwitz describes metering audiences as insane, but ultimately concedes that   the process helped him discover the end of the pilot needed work. Even with that admission, it’s pretty obvious that losing these ludicrous meters would go a long way to improving mainstream movies and TV. Besides, such focus testing is notoriously ineffective.

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