This is a (not-spoilery!) post in a series from Atlantic writers on Arrested Development's fourth season.
Last week, I argued with a few colleagues that Netflix was making a mistake in dropping all 15 episodes of the new season of Arrested Development simultaneously. Yes, it had worked with House of Cards, but that was a different animal, a political soap-melodrama that could be binge-watched without suffering in impact. AD creator Mitch Hurwitz himself claimed that comedy was different, and that if you watched too many episodes in a short period of time you'd wear out your sense of humor. And given the pent-up demand on the part of the show's rabid devotees—my wife and I had just finished watching the first three seasons for the fourth (or maybe fifth?) time—there was a large cohort out there virtually certain to overindulge, even against their better judgment. Wouldn't it be better, I suggested, if Netflix parceled out the season more judiciously—say, five episodes at a time for three weeks?
Well, no. Hurwitz's concerns about comedy overdose notwithstanding—and, as my colleague Spencer Kornhaber has noted, the effects can be disorienting—Netflix did exactly the right thing, really the only thing. Because the new season of Arrested Development isn't a season in any conventional understanding of the word, and the episodes aren't really episodes. Rather, Hurwitz et al. have bequeathed to us something that doesn't really have a name, or a meaningful precedent: not a series, or a movie, or even a mini-series, but rather a single, eight-hour work of dada televisual art.