Sometimes the most mature thing is admitting: "I've made a huge mistake."
The weekend to end all weekends is finally upon us. The air is teeming with an excitement that smacks of ham and frozen bananas. While we all gear up to be re-endeared by the dysfunctionality and majesty that is the Bluth family, I'm reminded of how, other than hours of laughter, Arrested Development has provided me with years of sage romantic advice. I know, I know. You're looking at your screen incredulously and asking me, "Is there actually an example of one successful relationship in the entire three-season run?" The answer is absolutely not. But the Bluths are horny, blunderous, and passionate people, and I wouldn't model my love life after any other kind. And remember, those who can't do, teach.
Before we all shelter in on Sunday May 26th with our closest friends (read: those who we trust not to talk over our Netflix volume), let's take a moment to reflect on the romantic wisdom the Bluths have dispensed to us. Man, I hope this season is as good as we all want it to be and may there be unlimited juice at your viewing party.
1. Get tested
I don’t mean this in the traditional sense of “get tested” because you have unsightly sores on your inner left thigh—I mean this in the, “go to the lab with a strand of your cousin’s hair to test against your DNA, because you need to confirm that the incestual crush you’ve been brewing for three years is actually incestual” way. Take it from George Michael and Maeby, who have the most compelling would-be romance of the series and waver on the brink of blood relation and test-tube baby anonymity. You can trace the illicit journey of Les Cousins Dangereux in this handy episode guide of their awkward, pubescent encounters. Let’s add to the mix the combos of Steve Holt and Maeby, Annyong and Maeby, Michael and Lindsay (some hints of twincest) and you’ll see that AD unnervingly heads to British Royal family territory on the regs. What do you do if you find yourself fending off bonery feelings towards a blood relation? Arrested Development taught me that the only tried and true method is to wait for the results to come back from the lab and if they’re not in your favor, down a couple Forget-me-nows with a Lucille on the rocks*. Your feelings for your cousin will be history in the morning.
*A Lucille on the rocks is actually just Vodka, any brand, in a mug.
2. Love is blind
Love is like dong tea for your head. It consumes your mind and lifts you up just to bring you down. It makes you blinds, not just misguided, but full throttle Cornballer-oil-splashed-into-your-eyes-blind. Luckily, AD has provided us with patented signs that your romantic entanglements might be impairing your judgment: 1. Your husband spends most of his free time with Carl Weathers and you haven’t seen him naked since your teenage child’s conception. 2. You mistake your 67-year-old girlfriend with vertigo for a "brownish area with points" when you take your glasses off. 3. Your exceptionally attractive British girlfriend and you have never had sex and she carries around a Bumpaddle. 4. The maybe-mother of your child walks a blind dog named Justice. and 5. The most critical one. Your date answers to “Egg”, “Bland,” and “Who, her?”
Going into a relationship while ignoring the blazing red warning signs is like the proverbial wink at your medicine vial while you sip on a cocktail. This may seem fun, adventurous, and impulsive now, but in a week you’ll realize you’ve just married a mentally retarded adult woman with a thing for Davey Crockett hats and lie-down kisses. The quick gratification of blind love feels great at first, but after a while, you'll quickly awaken to the error of your ways. Arrested Development teaches us to go into relationships with caution, hesitance, and perhaps a background check.
3. Don't keep it in the family
Arrested Development’s characters swap partners and love interests so frequently, they probably have enough material to script a few seasons of El Amor Prohibido. Though nothing about our beloved AD is moderately soap operatic, the evidence is pretty irrefutable: Lucille and Oscar, Marta and Michael, Tobias, Gob, and George with Kitty, Tobias and Gob’s wife, Ann and Gob, Lucille 2 and Gob (I am probably missing a few couplings. This show is weird, guys.). But going after people who have been with members of your close family is a. kind of gross and b. going to lead you to brawling on the court house lawn. When you mix family and sex, hearts will be broken and someone will curl up in a ball and remain motionless.
Gob is the largest offender when it comes to this super murky grey area, and that probably has to do with the fact that he always wants what others have, he's childish, and lacks a bit of imagination. That's what picking from your family's dating pool is: immature, lazy, and troublesome. Need I mention Nazhgalia? So, take it from the messy web of rivalry that the Bluths have left in their DVD boxset's wake, and stay away from your hermano/nephew/uncle-father's ex. Pro tip: you’re not supposed to be eskimo brothers with your actual brother.
4. Communication is key
Our beloved Michael Bluth continuously makes the same pitfall in every romantic relationship that seems a little hopeful–he doesn't communicate very well. Sally Sitwell, Jessie the PR agent, and Ms. Baerly all seemed to be perfect, cute matches for our level-headed brother, but they all bow out of dating him because he complicates his relationships with lies and a lack of communication. Which is actually the exact thing Michael accuses of his family of doing so often. That's what I love about AD: it points out that some of our deepest-seated issues with our family might actually be manifesting in us and screwing us over in our personal lives.
Michael Bluth often blames outside parties for his conflicted feelings about women, namely his son George Michael, who he claims isn't yet ready for a replacement for his mother so soon after her death. But that's all Michael and it's all avoiding the issues at hand. If only Michael would admit to himself and his girlfriends: "Listen, my family is going through some economic and legal trouble that really confuses me. Also, I'm a new single dad and it's terrifying. By the way I'm still mourning the loss of my wife Tracey. Shit is real." That's how you don't flush an exciting new relationships with Saddam Hussein-loving Heather Graham down the toilet, with honest and frank communication.
We should all take heed of the words of J. Walter Weatherman when it comes to expressing ourselves in our relationships: You should always leave a note.
5. Open relationships aren't a band-aid.
Tobias and Lindsay's marriage is like a self-absorbed, cut-offs-wearing train wreck that you can't possibly look away from. Tobias suggests an open relationship for their flailing marriage: "People always delude themselves into thinking it will work. But it might work for us." That's sort of how I feel about relationships that "open up" all of the sudden after many sexless years of turmoil. The chances that altering the type of relationship you have will actually bring it back to health is pretty unlikely. Though, it can create some interesting, though unfruitful, outlets for your sexual exploration–the Ice the Bounty Hunters, the Bob Loblaws, the Girl-Michaels, and the Kittys.
After all is said and done, you're going to have to look back in the cool, hard reflection of your relationship and possibly see a latently gay man married to a narcissistic lazy woman, both wanting bangers in their mouth…but not their own. Learn from Lindsay and Tobias, cut your losses, and date a Tom Jane with your newly minted split.
6. Grand gestures rarely work
The men of Arrested Development may not try with accuracy or success in their romantic relationships, but they do try hard. We first encountered the AD grand gesture in season one, when Buster fell in love with Marta and assembled a Mariachi band outside of her home to perform, "Love is in the Air". Next, Michael donned a tuxedo and brought some champagne and roses to Marta's home to make a statement. It all went smoothly until he tried to get laid to a mixed tape of Gob's singing. Then there's the women who have stood up at various Bachelorette Auctions, like Lindsay, Lucille, Lucille 2, and Sally Sitwell, in the hopes of being "bought" by a lucky Bluth. As we learned time and time again, grand gestures set you up for a pretty big fall.
Let's not forget the grandest grand gesture of them all, when Tobias posed as Mrs. Featherbottom, a jovial nanny from Black Stool, in the hopes of being close to his daughter and wife. Reimagining a high-grossing Robin Williams' film never works out, though, especially when you're cross-dressing and simultaneously losing your prosthetic nose. Mrs. Featherbottom should be a reigning reminder for us all to simplify our romantic pursuits. You don't need to scamper around with a Cockney accent or run a triathlon with Steve Holt to prove your worth. Just be yourself and go get your girl/guy/ in-between.
7. Admit when you're wrong
The sign of maturity is your ability to admit when you're wrong. Take it from Gob, who alternately accepts and eschews all blame for the things he's done. Whether you've accidentally married a nameless woman during an escalating series of dares, locked yourself in a relationship with a Spanish soap opera actress with kids, or become overly fond of a "dullard", there's still a dignified way of dealing with defeat. With any romantic relationship, you are going to land yourself into some mess, some adultery, or maybe even some light treason. The only proud thing to do is just sit back, acknowledge the blue hand print on the back of your head, and say it with me: "I've made a huge mistake."
8. You'll always be married to your family
Poor Michael Bluth. Poor, poor Michael. The giant, stinking, loose-screwed baggage he has carrying around with him through every relationship is his family. When he meets Rita, who he believes to be the most beautiful woman he's even seen, he vows to himself to keep his family a secret, as they seem to complicate/ruin/blue all over any chance he's ever had with a woman. This backfires when the family kidnaps Rita in a log cabin on wheels, clubs her, and then roofies her. Michael realizes that he can't negate his family's presence in his life, because they won't even stop being a force to contend with. (And honestly, if Lucille Bluth was your mother, how could you possibly avoid that?)
Arrested Development teaches us that you'll always be married to your family (and not in that haha-we-were-married-in-a-nursing-home-ceremony way). You can try to pretend you don't have roots, that your family isn't an inextricable part of the identity, but for better or for worse (I'm gonna go with worse, unless you're George Michael), your connection to your family is inescapable. So, keep your "Family Love Michael" banners hanging, plaster on your best fake smile, and surrender yourself to the idea that the most enduring and frustrating love of your life might be your family.