Comedy fans would say Netflix is making a huge mistake.
The streaming service is removing all five seasons of the Emmy-winning comedy series “Arrested Development” on March 14, as reported by What’s on Netflix. It will be one of the most significant removals of a Netflix Original series to date.
“Arrested Development,” a single-camera comedy from creator Mitchell Hurwitz, ran for three well-regarded but low-rated seasons on Fox between 2003 and 2006. After its cancellation, its reputation as a cult classic grew, thanks in no small part to its availability on Netflix’s then-nascent streaming platform. It became so successful on Netflix that the streaming service commissioned a fourth season, which premiered in May 2013. A “remix” of Season 4 hit Netflix in 2018, followed by a fifth and final season released in two halves in 2018 and 2019. The revival seasons did not reach the critical heights of the original run, and the fifth season was marred by controversy over the presence of star Jeffrey Tambor, who had been fired from the show “Transparent” in 2017 over allegations of sexual misconduct. (Tambor has previously denied the claims of sexual harassment.)
The revival was one of Netflix’s earliest original productions – it came out three months after “House of Cards,” the first series produced exclusively for Netflix – and established the streaming service’s reputation as the place where canceled shows go to get rescued. But that era of Netflix is over. With the streaming industry contracting, services are removing little-watched shows from their libraries. “Arrested Development” is coming to the end of its Netflix licensing deal, and for now, its time on Netflix is coming to an end. It’s possible that “Arrested Development”’s stay on Netflix could get extended – “Lilyhammer,” the first series branded as a “Netflix Original,” was slated for expiration but was extended at the last minute – but it’s more likely that it will join “Hemlock Grove” on the list of Netflix Originals that Netflix decided it no longer wanted. As What’s on Netflix points out, “Arrested Development” has already departed from Netflix in some regions outside of the U.S.A. and Canada.
But even though “Arrested Development” is leaving Netflix, it’s unlikely that fans will be unable to stream the complete series for too long. The first three seasons – the ones that aired on Fox – are currently available on Hulu, and it’s likely that the later episodes from Seasons 4 and 5 will head there as well. It could also potentially end up on the Fox-owned free ad-supported service Tubi, which hosts seasons of many canceled comedies and has become a destination for high-profile streaming castoffs like “Westworld” and “The Nevers.”
“Arrested Development” follows the dysfunctional Bluth family, a formerly wealthy Southern California family forced to adapt to new financial circumstances after patriarch George Bluth Sr. (Tambor) is sent to prison for white-collar crimes. The cast includes Jason Bateman (who went on to executive produce and star in “Ozark” for Netflix), Portia de Rossi, Tony Hale, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, David Cross, the late Jessica Walter, and Ron Howard as the narrator.
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