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Breaking Down the Arrested Development Promo Posters

May 13, 2013

As promised, below are my descriptions of each of the Netflix Arrested Development promotional posters and the references they are making. Before I dive into the posters though, I want to further touch on why I think this marketing strategy by Netflix is a stroke of genius (my blog on the Marketing around the return of Arrested Development).

Each of the promotional posters focuses on one specific member of the Bluth family. On the surface, it may seem obvious to do one poster for each of the show’s main characters, but this strategy of devoting attention to one character is not only being used for posters by Netflix. If you read my blog on the return of Arrested Development (click here to catch up, different link than in last paragraph, I guess you could say I like Arrested Development), each episode of the new season will be devoted to one specific character. So, while there will be scenes where the characters interact (say Michael and Gob are having a confrontation), one episode will follow Michael after the scene, while Gob’s episode will follow the exploits of the Bluth’s favorite illusion artist. By using the posters to introduce this single Bluth character focus, Netflix is making a subtle introduction of this new, innovative way to structure the episodes of a show.

While the thoughts in the below are my own, I found the Arrested Development wiki helpful in compiling and thought you might enjoy having the full background, so I’ve linked to descriptions where available.

Now, without further adieu (yeah, I went French on you), the posters (I will follow the same order as the Gawker article I originally linked to with the posters and where all images were “borrowed” from, click each poster to enlarge):

Michael PosterFor Michael’s poster, we see a reference to his frequent references to leaving the family to their own devices (being the only responsible one). This happens a few times across the series, though one specific episode that jumps out is in Season 2 when Michael and George Michael head for Phoenix, return to see the family, and then tell them they’re leaving for Phoenix (spoiler: they never leave). Several times while making this threat, Michael represents his departure by making references to the Bluth family business, handing over the company checkbook or, in the case shown by the poster, tearing up his business card.

Tobias PosterTobias’ poster brings back one of my favorite running bits from the original episodes, Tobias’ rare condition of being a never nude.This means that Tobias is never comfortable being nude, not by himself or with his wife, Lindsay. Instead of being nude, Tobias wears cutoff jean shorts, as seen in the poster. Tobias being a never nude comes up throughout the first three seasons. Whether it is George Sr. finding cutoffs in the attic to Tobias mistaking George Michael as another never nude, or Zach Braff’s guest appearance as a fake “Girls Gone Wild” host who (spoiler) is a never nude, not to mention the several shower and bath scenes, Tobias and his friendly cutoffs are never far from an Arrested Development episode.

Buster PosterFor Buster’s poster, the marketing team pulled out a double whammy, with two references. First, the juice box, representing Buster’s obsession with juice. Buster loves juice, whether it’s the unlimited juice at Gob’s bachelor party, trying to get a sip from Annyong’s juice box or finding mother’s “adult” juice box in the fridge, he’s in constant pursuit of his next supply. Last, but not least, is Buster’s hook for a hand. Buster received the hook when he defied orders from his mother, Lucille, and went in the ocean only to have his hand bitten off by a loose seal (if you miss the irony, say Lucille and loose seal back to back). After losing his hand, Buster used a hook for his hand, similar to George Senior’s friend with the fake arm who taught the Bluth children lessons growing up.

Lindsay PosterThe Bluth’s resident shopping addict, Lindsay, is the owner of the credit card on ice. Lindsay loves to shop, drink and do anything else that requires spending money while doing little to no physical activity or work. While this doesn’t drastically change her from the rest of the family, Lindsay has no job, hobby or really anything else that makes her stand out from the rest of the gang. There are countless references to Lindsay’s love for shopping, where in some instances a Bluth will ask her where she’s been shopping when she comes home, instead of saying “hi” or “where were you?” because they all know if Lindsay is out, she’s probably shopping. I think this is probably the weakest of the posters, especially when compared to the awesomeness of Tobias and Buster.

Maeby PosterMaeby Funke’s meteoric rise as a Hollywood Executive is depicted in her poster; representing an entertaining and rather lengthy recurring subplot from the original episodes. Maeby stumbles into a job at a studio while Tobias is trying to generate buzz to get his nonexistent acting career off the ground, by sitting in an office and having people walk in thinking it is hers. When they ask why she looks so young, her response is always “Marry me!”, which somehow continues to work and charm everyone, aiding in her climb up the corporate ladder. While I am trying to limit my expectations for the new episodes, I would like to see future Maeby as a grown up executive (maybe she is the one who brought the show back? Probably not, that seems like a Dan Harmon-esque level of meta-ness that would be weird for Arrested).

George Michael PosterMr. Manager is the title of the one and only George Michael Bluth, the Bluth family’s favorite whipping boy and banana stand employee. In an early episode (the one where the late Patrice O’Neal plays T-Bone, an arsonist who later burns down the banana stand), Michael decides to promote George Michael to manager of the banana stand, and when he tells him, he calls him “Mr. Manager”. George Michael, in his typical nerdish behavior, continues to refer to himself as “Mr. Manager” even after Michael tells him it’s just “Manager”. The Bluth Banana Stand is a source of comedy throughout the series, so it is only appropriate that it is referenced in one of the posters. With George Michael being the Bluth we see most in the stand during the original episode, choosing him to represent the stand is a great choice.

Gob PosterThe dead dove is a product of a failed illusionist Gob Bluth, who purchases the dove for an illusion, only to kill it by walking into the door of the pet store immediately after buying it. Then, because he feels he is entitled to a refund but doubts the person who sold it to him will give him one, Gob brings the dove home and places it in the Bluth freezer. Narrowing down one reference for Gob must have been a difficult task for the marketing team. I feel that Gob is one of the most easily referenced characters, with his awesome chicken dance (arguably the best of the Bluth’s), his career as an illusionist (I will never call him the “M” word) or his frequent use of a Segway; there were several easy choices for Gob. While some of his other illusions were funnier in the show (the sinking of the yacht, the “Sword of Destiny” or his routine of cutting someone in half come to mind), I’m glad the decision was to represent one of his illusions.

Lucille PosterThe final posters are saved for the elders of the Bluth family, leading off with Lucille and one of her favorite hobbies, abusing  prescription drugs. Whether it’s her postpartum prescriptions (she’s been on them for the 30+ years since Buster’s birth) or taking Buster’s pain medication, Lucille likes pills, and they are even better when combined with her drug of choice, hard liquor. I particularly enjoy the one occasion where she takes Buster’s pain medication and mistakes the drowsy eye alcohol warning for a winking eye alcohol suggestion, in the morning. Plus, it provides reason to link to this list of Lucille Gifs (the first winking comes to mind with this poster and always gets me).

George PosterFinally, George Sr.’s posters. First up, is the original poster that was released showing an ice cream sandwich with one bite taken. While George Sr. is in prison, there is an ice cream sandwich machine right near the visitors area, so the sandwiches come up a few times. There’s one time where the machine broke, so everyone got them for free (which seems funny in prison) and I also remember him saying something along the lines of “I’m having an affair with this ice cream sandwich” in reference to Michael telling him about Lucille and his twin brother Oscar’s fling, both of which are awesome moments.

Glisten PosterGeorge Sr. is the only Bluth to have two posters, as the specially revealed poster after the scavenger hunt in New York City was a reference mostly to him, with the poster of his favorite toothpaste, Glisten. This reference is relatively obscure, and thus appropriate for the scavenger hunt prize, in that I only think Glisten is referenced in a few episodes. In one of the episodes where the family is looking for George Sr., one of the Bluths (I believe it was Michael), stumbles upon a tube of Glisten, which lets them know that he is nearby. However, each time Glisten is referenced, it’s either George Sr. or one of the Bluth children talking about how much George Sr. needs to use his Glisten.

While the references in the posters range from relatively well known (Tobias being a never nude and Buster having a hook for a hand come to mind) to the obscure (Gob’s dead dove), that is what makes them great. I hope you enjoyed this overview and that it helps you reacquaint yourself with the Bluths and Arrested Development before the show’s return May 26th.

Sorry to tack this on at the end, I wrote this over the weekend but Monday morning Netflix released this Arrested Development Season 4 Trailer which I highly recommend watching, enjoy!

What’s your favorite poster?
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From → Pop Culture

One Comment
  1. Great post. Can’t wait for the new season!!!

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