We’re running a tournament to find the show that’s doing fast-paced storytelling the best. But for each round, we want to know what you think. Vote below!
Arrested Development and Archer are an unlikely pairing; one live-action and one animated, one dysfunctional family sitcom, the other workplace/Get Smart-esque spy comedy. I mean, besides the incomparable Jessica Walters, the two are pretty significantly different. Let’s take inventory of what each one has to offer, shall we?
Arrested Development, which has recently resurfaced thanks to Netflix’s original programming, has been a fan favorite ever since it debuted in 2003 and lasted for three seasons before being canceled by FOX. The internet went wild when it was announced that they might be picked up for a movie or another season by alternative means of distribution. These rumors circulated for years before coming to fruition earlier this year. Still, before we got their comeback, and even before they got canceled, Arrested Development introduced us to the dysfunctional Bluth family, a group of unlikely individuals trying to keep their heads (and company) above water when their patriarch is imprisoned by the SEC. It was smart and quick, with a socio-economic commentary on the 1% way ahead of its time. Still, it knew how to be just as juvenile if the plot called for it. It really was the best of both worlds.
Unfortunately, the much-lauded return has been pretty divisive in Arrested Development fandom. There are those who are just happy to have the Bluths back and there are others that have found that the spark just isn’t there anymore. Personally, I’m of the latter camp. Yes, it’s great to see the Bluths back and a return to form with jokes that can be traced back to the first season in 2003, but there’s something missing with this most recent season. There isn’t the same interaction amongst the family that made Arrested Development so delightfully dysfunctional. Honestly, this past season, at least for me, was pretty damaging to the Arrested Development legacy. Still, is that enough to disqualify the series entirely?
Archer, on the other hand, has been an FX favorite since it debuted in 2009. After a fairly rocky, at least for me, fourth season, it might be nice to see Archer get back on track with its fifth season, but that’s still a ways off… Archer is an unusual television phenomenon because, unlike Arrested Development, there’s no central good guy (Michael Bluth) in a sea of morally ambiguous characters. Sterling Archer repeatedly womanizes, offends, and drinks like only an animated character could. But, truth be told, that may be why I like him. I’ve always been one for offensive humor and the recurring jokes that made Arrested Development so winning are there in fine form with Archer.
Honestly, I think Archer can get away with more because the show is animated. Ask any actor or actress who has played a villain, people on the street have difficulty separating them from their characters. With Archer, there’s no real need. Okay, yes, you could make an argument that Mallory looks vaguely similar to her voice actress, Jessica Walters, but even then, not really. There’s nobody for audiences to really hate. I swear there’s something there, folks. It’s like the Uncanny Valley, except with, like, really offensive animated characters.
Truthfully, this tournament might boil down to my personal preferences more than the actual shows themselves. I honestly can’t believe I volunteered to cover these two shows, but I had no idea how difficult it would be to choose between these two. While Arrested Development has always been on point with its dry wit and incisive commentary, Archer, by nature of being a spy show, has to be fast-paced. Still, Arrested Development utilized the “Next On…” gag to progress the plot forward so they could skip filler episodes… as much as it pains me to say this (which really isn’t that much since I love both of these shows), this title may belong to Arrested Development.
Winner: Arrested Development