I really liked Arrested Development when it first aired, but I was a night security guard then and missed most of the first season. Then I was in England, where it did not air. I watched random episodes this year, and loved them, and so decided to buy all three seasons on DVD and go through them in order. I am virtually done now. I have the second half of season 3 left, but I saw most of those when they were re-run on G4. I know I saw the last four.
Because I missed this when it was on, I wanted to know -- did everyone watching at the time notice the weird political skeletal structure on which the show was built? Because I am only just now watching these fully paying attention, I only just now picked up on it.
Obviously I noticed stuff like the Bluth company doing business with the Iraqi government. That is explicit -- a picture of George Senior shaking hands with Saddam prompts someone to say that it will ruin his career, at which point the narrator shows us an image of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam. There is a broad (maybe too broad) joke about homeland security being stupid, and a "Mission Accomplished" banner put up at the Bluth company for a minor accomplishment. The whole end in Iraq, with GOB's Burning Bush trick ("Burn Bush! Burn Bush!") -- of course I saw that.
What I missed was the family structure thing. I thought GOB's name was "Job," like in the Bible. Turns out it is "George Oscar Bluth." While his father, George Senior, is in prison he is put in charge of the corrupt Bluth company, but just as a figurehead. Michael Bluth, the smart one, is given a vice president role. Michael really runs the place; George Senior wants to keep him in the background so if the Feds come he will not take all the blame. Buster is GOB's even stupider brother.
So GOB (George Bluth junior) is the president. He is just a figurehead for the real power, the vice president. And behind the scenes George Bluth Senior, who used to be president, pulls the strings. The names chime as well: George Bush /George Bluth, sons also named George, GOB / Jeb . This makes jokes like GOB using George Bush's malapropisms, George Michael's school election campaign (in which he starts by aiming for the Christian vote), the clips of Fox news, and GOB's putting up posters that say "Everyone Makes Mistakes" funnier.
Am I the last one to notice this?
What is the status of this? It is not exactly a satire. Or is it? It is just like this odd structural detail that throws some jokes into high relief, but stays underground enough so that it never interferes with the other, random jokes the show feels like making, so that the show never becomes polemic. Is that right?