10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

Arrested Development14 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

If the continued popularity of lists like this one is any indication, people are still discovering jokes from the first three seasons of Arrested Development ten years after it first started airing. The show was so full of obscure references, lines too quick or subtle to take note of, and details that take multiple viewings to really click in your mind that it was impossible to appreciate just how much comedy was hidden in its many layers. It’s why watching it over and over again, sharing your observations and favorite moments with fellow watchers, was immensely rewarding.

There are many who seem to believe that the fourth season is fundamentally different, the timing somehow a bit off, the tone shifted a shade or two darker, the comedy less prevalent, or at least perhaps less accessible. But my suspicion is that a lot of people are forgetting what it was like to watch Arrested Development for the first time. The first three episodes of the very first season were a bit of a challenge to get into. And it’s because we lacked context, both in terms of the story and joke construction, as well as the context that these writers and creators knew exactly what they were doing. This season feels so much like that first experience—at first it seems like the hype may have been overplayed, that this season is ultimately disappointing, and then things just start to click. Early episodes that initially seemed weak or slightly off play much, much better, and funnier, the second time around.

As more people continue to rewatch, we’ll hear about more of these hidden jokes that slipped by when many of us were watching at 4 a.m. on May 26th. Here are 10 jokes from season four of Arrested Development that I’ve noticed or have been brought to my attention that many viewers likely missed the first time around. It should be obvious that the spoiler-phobic ought not read on until they’ve joined the party and watched the entire season.

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1) George Maharis

Arrested Development15 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

I might as well start with the one that made me blow a cow when I first heard it. I thought George Maharis was just some silly made up name that George Michael came up with. But George Maharis was a real guy. He was an actor who was arrested for lewd conduct in 1967 after engaging in a sex act with a hairdresser in the rest room of a Los Angeles gas station. So in his effort to distance himself from the reputation of George Michael the singer-songwriter, George Michael Bluth takes his new name from a man with an almost identical sexual history.

And that’s not even the kicker. The hairdresser real-life George Maharis was gettin’ sexually perverted with (awww, yeah) was a young man by the name of…Perfecto Telles. This show’s still got it.

2) References to Clue

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One detail that seemed downright bizarre was the fact that the only food in the old model home that Gob, Tobias and then Maeby—although she stops herself—make for themselves is a weird mixture of parmesan cheese and mustard that they pour in their hands. This made no sense to me, but folks seem to take this as a kind of reference to the fact that Martin Mull, the actor playing Gene Parmesan, also played Colonel Mustard in the film Clue. There is also a curious scene in which Gene Parmesan is purchasing a knife, a famous Clue weapon, next door to a literal ball-room, where Gob and Michael have their fight. Mitch Hurwitz has a way of working a ton of things into these fights, like when they have a real life rock-paper-scissors fight with props. There’s something to this that’s still somewhat elusive, but it seems bonkers and awesome, whatever it is.

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3) Debrie is a man, maybe?

Arrested Development16 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

Maria Bamford’s role as Debrie was one of the highlights of the new season, but there seems to be more to the character than meets the eye. The biggest hint occurs when she’s rushed into the hospital and doctors refer to her as a “61-year-old male.” Given Tobias’s track record of not being able to tell the difference between a man and a woman in the dark, and Marky Bark’s faceblindness that renders him similarly unable to notice the difference, there seems to be some strong indication that Debrie is transgendered or something.

4) Carl Weathers owns Swappigans

Arrested Development17 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

I totally missed this, but this one seems to be legit. Carl Weathers, the famous spendthrift from the original series, is apparently in the restaurant business. The clues: the full name of the restaurant is CW Swappigans, it’s a barter restaurant that accepts various items in exchange for food from dumpsters, and then there’s the scene where he meets with Michael and grabs an armful of little Grinch dolls (a great callback to Lucille playing the Grinch in episode one). He says he wants them “for the restaurant.” When you think about it, it makes perfect, hilarious sense.

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5) Sally Sitwell has alopecia

Arrested Development13 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

I was a bit surprised so few people figured this one out the first time through, but I guess it’s pretty subtle, and I barely got it when it happened. The scene with Christine Taylor and Ben Stiller, who I totally forgot are actually married in real life, as Sally Sitwell and Tony Wonder is another season highlight, for me at least. It’s cemented by the moment where she’s shaving his legs, and says it’s the first time she’s ever shaved a leg before. Then there’s a long pause. Really long. Just to let that sentence sink in. And if that wasn’t enough, her eyebrow falls off, Tony thinks it’s a caterpillar, refers to other times it’s happened, and we’re tipped off to the fact that Sally has the same follical condition as her father.

6) Pete the mailman gets a sendoff

Arrested Development18 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

It’s a little detail, but I love it. At the funeral for James Carr, the real estate agent played by Ed Helms, there are some mildly conspicuous vans of some kind driving in the background of the cemetery. You only get a brief glimpse of it, but it becomes clear that these are mail trucks after you see the sign that says “R.I.Pete.”

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7) Barry Zuckerkorn’s subplot

Arrested Development 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

This is another joke that remains a little opaque, but the elements we do learn about create a possible story that is pretty funny in the way it unfolds. The first bit we see is Bob Loblaw showing a jury that Barry could not reach the latch to open the gate into the schoolyard, then in a later episode we see him buying a stepladder, then we see him getting caught by Maeby as he tries to use the ladder to get over the fence. Who knows what he’s actually doing, but the suggestiveness and simplicity of this little subplot is pretty crazy.

8) Maeby’s yearbook captions

Arrested Development19 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

The storyline with Maeby repeating high school is funny in itself, funnier still in the fact that it mirrors the number of times her former boyfriend and cousin Steve Holt had to repeat high school, and the way this was depicted in yearbook photos. In Maeby’s yearbooks, shown very briefly, she uses the names Maeby Featherbottom, along with the caption “I love you Americans. You’re all such wonderful pussies,” and Maeby Flunke, with the caption “Life is a roofie circle.” Hilarious callbacks to the British Eyes Only story of season 3 and Gob’s roofie circle in season 4.

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9) Sign warning about roofie circles

Arrested Development1 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

We don’t learn about Gob’s use and abuse of forget-me-nows that plague his memory but not in the way he wants until later in the season, but before we know about his troubles, in the scene from episode one where he forcefeeds one to Michael to make him forget the mysterious individual Gob has over at the model home (which is, hilariously, Tony Wonder), we see a flashback. Gob is buying his forget-me-nows from a little Mexican pharmacy shop. Outside the shop there’s a sign warning customers of the dangers of entering a vicious roofie circle, which Gob of course ends up in. The whole thing is also a bit of an allusion to the circular storytelling the season employs.

10) Tobias as The Thing from Fantastic Four

Arrested Development20 10 Jokes You May Have Missed In Arrested Development Season Four

Having Tobias play The Thing sets up plenty of classic Tobias jokes, with perhaps the best one being “Daddy needs to get his rocks off.” But one detail I didn’t realize when I watched it was that The Thing famously wears jean cutoffs. Just like Tobias, the never-nude. Not only that, but apparently the Spanish name for The Thing is La Mole, which could be a reference to the fact that Tobias becomes a mole in season three. Or it could all be a “cooooiiiiiinciiideeeence.”

And this is just what fans have discovered less than a week after the release of this fourth season of Arrested Development. With the acceleration of communication provided by places like Twitter and Reddit, it’s unlikely any rock in this season will be left unturned. I suspect we’ll see just how deep the comedy wormhole goes and come out realizing that this season contains just as much humor and even more complexity than the previous three.

Are there any hidden jokes you think you’ve discovered in season 4 of Arrested Development? Share your finds in the comments below.

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  • Alex Lowe

    One of my favorites was the reference to George Michael and Lucille 2 having never shared a scene. Didn’t ever notice that when watching the first three seasons.

    • http://www.untoldtravel.com/ Trevor Bolliger

      I loved all the treatment of “Lucille 2″ in this season. (At Austerity Lucille Bluth is “Lucille 2″.) And this joke about GM not meeting her? Hilarious.

      My only geeky complaint is that Buster asks GM for weed for Lucille 2 in “Pier Pressure” and GM replies “I thought she was your nurse”. Also they were both at Lucille 1′s Valentine’s Day party in “Marta Complex”.

      • Schuyler

        He never met/saw her

  • http://www.slashfilm.com/exclusive-trailer-debut-homecoming/ Shackett

    Fantastic 4 also has references to Fantastic 4 seasons … and the major 4 network television stations being ran by selfish idiots.

  • http://www.untoldtravel.com/ Trevor Bolliger

    I didn’t notice CW Swappigan’s connection before but it is BRILLIANT! Thanks for pointing that one out. :)

    I love that during the two final flashbacks with the Showstealer Pro Trial Version show “1 use left” and “trial expired”. John Beard’s career struggle was also a fun treat this season. Same with all the reality shows being recorded in the background of so many episodes.

    • Schuyler

      john beard had more screen time than some of the characters it seemed

  • ffdfd

    the maharis- telles thing is funny

  • Mr. Manager

    In one seen you see that Lindsay made a banner for Lucille 2. It is written on the other side of the banner that says, “You’re Killing Me Buster”. This foreshadows the ending where Buster is thought to have killed Lucille 2.

    • Mr. Manager

      At first I thought it was just a nod to the earlier episodes that had that banner. It took me awhile to figure out how deep it was.

  • Masdoc

    Just a thought. If Lucille is the Grinch, [imgur.com] and Carl Weathers refers to a Grinch doll “old lady ‘Crinch’ “with its eye falling off, are we destined to have another member of the Bluth family lose a body part in a future season? Perhaps the eye that Lucille is always winking? There are multiple references to eye damage in season 4, including ramen noodle powder being used as mace. It just feels like Buster’s hand chair all over again….

  • Chris McLafferty

    My girlfriend’s step dad happen to catch this one.

    The Shaman says “Please don’t squeeze the shaman”

    Just like in the older days when this commercial was popular (Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin)


  • Vid Adorno

    What the heck is “La Mole”? The thing in Spanish means la cosa, el objeto

  • KatieGibbons

    I loved the “bees/beans/beads” scene with GOB & George, Sr, a parallel conversation to one had between GOB & Lindsey in season 1, episode 22! Hilarious, and left me craving candy beans for sure!