During its three-season run on Fox, Arrested Development greatest strength and ultimate downfall was that there was nothing else quite like it. Its deft wordplay and layered plotting helped galvanize its devoted fans, but those things also meant that lots of people didn't get it.
This Sunday, the show is returning with 15 new episodes debuting simultaneously on Netflix. It's been more than seven years since Arrested Development ended its broadcast run, but the most important element that made Mitchell Hurwitz's celebrated creation unique back then has continued to be rare—the fact that it's a comedy solely concerned with being funny.
Arrested Development spent its first 53 episodes working very hard at being hilarious, through everything from bizarre misunderstandings—a close-up of testicles is mistaken for a picture of Iraqi terrain, for example—to infuriatingly clever puns, like the title of that episode, "Sad Sack." While it had a memorable cast and dense storylines, they were all there in service of the jokes, rather than attempting to hook the audience with relationship drama or juicy plot threads, simply because it never took any of those concepts seriously.
It seems appropriate that Arrested Development is returning the same month that How I Met Your Mother finally unveiled the titular maternal parent after eight full seasons, and just a little more than a week after the teary series finale of The Office. Both of those shows overlapped with Arrested Development's time on air, and represent the shape of most sitcoms in the interim period before its return: Funny, yes, but also asking the viewers to invest emotionally in their characters and their sometimes very dramatic situations.