When Mitch Hurwitz and Netflix first hooked up in 2013 – for new episodes of his award-winning show, Arrested Development – it seemed like the perfect match. Though he started out working for regular TV networks, on series such as The Golden Girls and The John Larroquette Show, those standard broadcasting channels – with all their restrictive regulations – were never able to provide him with the platform he needed to really let his flag fly. Even Arrested Development – the creation for which he is most famous – had to fight to remain seated at the FOX table. Thankfully, those days are gone now that Hurwitz has signed a multi-year deal with the streaming market leader – giving the writer/producer/director the space he needs to fully unfurl his creative wings.
When Arrested Development was cancelled in 2007, it’s highly revered main cast – Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor, Alia Shawkat, Michael Cera, Portia De Rossi, David Cross and Jessica Walter – were all immediately catapulted into stellar careers. The mind that gave them that opportunity, however, seemed to flounder. Shows such as Sit Down Shut Up and Running Wilde never truly found their place on network television, and were ultimately short-lived. Fans took comfort in the fact that this surely gave Hurwitz more time to work on the much-rumoured Arrested Development movie that he’d supposedly been writing.
Then came Hurwitz’s first date with Netflix, as six years after the Bluth family sailed off into the sunset, it was announced that they would be heading back to shore. Immense excitement built around the prospect of Hurwitz delivering 15 fully formed, completely new episodes onto the internet TV platform simultaneously – unfettered by the whims of censors, committees and test audiences. Although, in the final analysis, some viewers were left disappointed by this fresh approach to the beloved show, the episodes are, in fact, a masterpiece. When watching those episodes, we are essentially watching Arrested Development – and Mitch Hurwitz’s work – in its purest form so far.
During its initial run, Hurwitz could often be heard to comment on how frustrating the process of writing and producing Arrested Development was, due to all the things they wanted to do, but weren’t allowed, and all the things they had to leave out, due to the requirement of leaving enough room in the time slot for advertisements. None of those issues applied with Netflix, and the only constraint placed on the production was the problem of scheduling its stars – all keen to return, but embroiled in busy projects of their own. Creative genius that he is, Hurwitz simply built that obstacle into the story arc, and 2013’s Arrested Development revealed the show as its creator intended for it to be seen.
This is why today’s news is very exciting indeed. Apart from being noteworthy due to the rarity of Netflix entering into such an agreement with a writer/producer, it seems the deal requires three things of Hurwitz – operating through his own The Hurwitz Company:
- Create and produce new original series for Netflix;
- Develop projects with other creators as a non-writing executive producer;
- Consult on Netflix comedy series
That’s right – Mitch Hurwitz just became Netflix’s comedy guru, and that’s about the best news that subscribers could hope to hear. Of course, for fans of Arrested Development, it will almost certainly mean a longer wait for movement on any potential movie production of the show, but hey – maybe one or more of his “new original series” will become just as beloved. The point is, now we have the chance to find out.
Chief Content Officer for Netflix, Ted Sarandos – who was instrumental in last year’s revival of Arrested Development – knows exactly how important it is to bring talented creators together and, crucially, let them do their thing:
“We are lucky to be in business with Mitch Hurwitz – a true genius, with one of the most distinctive voices in comedy today. Mitch’s inventive approach to Arrested Development – one of the top comedies of this generation – was ahead of its time, and we’re fortunate to have him on our team.”
For his part, Hurwitz is absolutely clear on the advantages of officially hitching his wagon to the Netflix train:
“It is incredibly inspiring to get to produce for Netflix – a company that doesn’t resist change, but is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone in forging it. The fact that I’m also getting one month of their streaming right to my TV or Xbox for free… Well, it really takes the sting out of buying that Xbox.”
We should all be so lucky – because now that they have committed to Mitch Hurwitz, future projects at Netflix will only get funnier, and more awesome.