They say that looking good is the best revenge, and Arrested Development is looking so damn foxy lately that I pity the fool who ever didn’t give it the time of day. Granted, I was one of those people myself, long ago in my younger days, but I didn’t know any better because I was just a foolish undergrad drinking my way through a higher education. You know who was supposed to know better? Television producers. It’s their job to see the value in a show and to give it the chance it deserves before completely writing it off, and I don’t think AD‘s creator Mitch Hurwitz is alone in thinking that that kind of tender loving care never really came through for them back in 2003.
“There were definitely times of frustration because the lack of ratings meant lack of other support, too. Not getting an audience meant there was a lot of struggle to change the show in fundamental ways. So, in that sense, it was frustrating.”
I guess I should have assumed this was the case, given the low ratings, but Mitch says that Fox was unsatisfied with the show in the form that it was put out. Obviously in hindsight it’s completely brilliant and I’m thrilled they didn’t change a single aspect, but at the time, they were apparently getting a lot of pressure from the network to make some very specific changes.
“There was talk at one point that they wouldn’t sign up unless I signed a contract to simplify it by a percentage point. I forget the number. It was, like, a 30 percent or 40 percent simplification.”
“I mean, at that point it had been such a battle and it had gotten very, very difficult. It was a great fortune to have gotten this gorgeous, Academy Award-winning actress, Charlize Theron, to star in six episodes. You just don’t get that on a weekly TV show, and certainly not one with low ratings like that. I was like, “OK, they aren’t going to be able to ignore this.” And they ignored it. There was not a single ad. I was so embarrassed for her.
They also had no Emmy campaign, because the last thing they wanted in that third season was to win another Emmy. It was getting to a situation where they wanted to cancel the thing. It was not a money-maker for them. It had gotten very frustrating, since we’d done this really labored work of hiding the true nature of Charlize’s character. It was six episodes where the audience thinks one thing and the character thinks another thing, and the truth is this third thing. They all had to make sense and they all have to be funny, and they aired two in August and three of those in January. It did start feeling a little thankless.”