It’s amazing what ‘Arrested Development’ got away with on network television

The reunited cast. (via Gawker.)
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For weeks now, Ron Howard and others involved in the re-up of the beloved Fox sitcom "Arrested Development" have been teasing us with pictures of the writers' room and other behind-the-scenes paraphernalia.

We'll have to wait till next year for the ten-episode season to become available; it's being produced by Netflix and they'll all come online at once.

If this were any other show, it would be significant that Netflix is doing the series for, among other reasons, the fact that it won't be censored. 

But here's the thing about "Arrested Development": It is a very, very dirty show, to the point that it's kind of shocking that it aired on Fox at all. Here are 10 examples of censor-proof raunch.


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Some of the dirtiest jokes on the show get by because they take so long to develop; the setup gets one punchline right away, and one or more vulgar ones later.

There's the time Michael and his mother, Lucille, shared a tender moment:

Lucille: Honey, I wanna cry so bad, but I don't think I can spare the moisture.

Later, after her imprisoned husband arrives at the conjugal trailer:

Lucille (to Michael): I'm so glad I didn't cry.


Other times they get by because not a single naughty word is said out loud, and again because the final punchline comes several beats after the setup. When Michael arrives at the office after the company's stock is upgraded to "Don't Buy," he finds the staff celebrating raucously, rolling the copy machine around with his sister Lindsay sitting on top of it:

Lindsay: We did it, Mikey! We're super rich again! And I'm gonna buy a car, a Volvo.

She hands him a piece of paper from the photocopier.

Michael: Lindsay, you’re not going to start spending money.

Michael: And this is not a Volv ... oh!

Lindsay: Oh, that’s from sitting on the copier.

She grabs the sheet back and hands him another one.

Michael: Lindsay, no.

Lindsay: Michael, I’ve got nothing! My husband dumped me and ran off to Vegas with Kitty. That bleached blonde whore!

Michael: Well, he’s definitely got a type.

Lindsay: I can’t believe he left me. I mean, this! And these!

She gestures to her chest.

Lindsay: And this!

She points at one of the sheets.

Michael: That’s the car.

Lindsay: Oh. This.

She points at the other one.

Michael: Glad I didn’t spring for color. Lindsay, the only reason you want Tobias is because you can’t have him. And the second that you can have something, all of a sudden you don’t want it.

Lindsay: That’s not who I am, Michael.

Michael: Well, all right, maybe you’re right. Maybe we should get you this car.

Lindsay: Yeah? I don’t know, it’s so boxy.


Some are just context-dependent enough. The show has already established that "Afternoon Delight" is a brand of powerful marijuana; also, after several combinations of Bluths, including Michael and his teenage niece Maeby, make the mistake of performing karaoke duets to the song "Afternoon Delight," they realize the song is very dirty. But the show makes it even dirtier.

In the phase of the show in which Lucille is sleeping with her husband's identical twin, Oscar, Michael reluctantly gets involved:

Michael: My mom is very stressed out, and uh, she needs something that I can't give her, um ... maybe a little afternoon delight?

Narrator: Oscar thought that Michael was referring to a particular brand of cannabis named afternoon delight, a strain famous for mellowing behavior.

Oscar: Well, sure, the question is: Which way do I try to get it in her?

Michael: I don't need any details.

Oscar: Maybe I'll put it in her brownie.

Michael: Hey!


Tobias Fünke's sexually ambiguous character's endless double-entendres are an important source of filthiness for the show. My favorite exchange, though, is really meta. Tobias and Michael have each won spa getaways for two. But Tobias has inadvertently spent his by going to check out the place for a weekend in advance of bringing his wife, Lindsay.

Tobias: I'm afraid I prematurely shot my wad on what was supposed to be a dry run if you will, so I'm afraid I have something of a mess on my hands.

Michael: There's so many poorly chosen words in that sentence.

A few things happen; and in the course of those exchanges, Michael offers to give his spa weekend to Tobias so Tobias can take his wife.

Tobias: Well, Michael, you really are quite the Cupid, aren’t you? I tell you, you can sink your arrow into my buttocks any time.

Michael: OK, you know what you do? You buy yourself a tape recorder, you just record yourself for a whole day. I think you’re going to be surprised at some of your phrasing.

A few beats later:

Tobias: You know, Michael, perhaps I should buy you that tape recorder. Do you have any idea how often you say the word "afraid"?

Michael: Well, I know I did in the Jacuzzi.

Tobias: And I apologize for that. I thought it was a pool toy.


Michael is always getting implicated in the sex lives of his immediate family, which is where much of the raunchiest stuff comes in. Here, Michael is trying to convince Lucille to take a break and visit the family cabin in Tahoe.

Michael: Maybe you could take a date?

Lucille: How am I supposed to find someone willing to go into that musty old claptrap?

Michael: (Stares at her in shock for a moment, then breaks.) The cabin ... yes! That would be difficult, too.


And in general, Lucille's complete lack of superego gets her lots of good, dirty lines:

Lucille: I have a plan to stave off intruders.

Michael: What's that?

Lucille: (Holds up an air horn and a fire poker.) First I blow him, then I poke him.

Michael: Guy doesn't know what he's in for.


Often enough the curse word itself is the joke. Like when Michael is instructing his family to liquidate its assets, including its unfortunately named yacht.

Michael (to his brother, Gob): Get rid of the Seaward.

Lucille (stunned): I'll leave when I'm good and ready!


The C-word is bad; but so is this (the Hot Cops are recurring minor characters, a troupe of male strippers):

Tobias: I booked a wonderful spot for the party: the Queen Mary. Perhaps I should call the Hot Cops and tell them to come up with a more nautical theme. Hot sailors. Better yet: Hot sea ....

Michael: (Quickly interrupts.) I like hot sailors.

Tobias: Me too.


There is a part of one episode in which two separate dirty jokes are unspooling in the same scene. His hand bitten off by a rabid seal set loose by his brother in the ocean (another long story), Buster now has a prosthetic one. Lucille's husband is at home, and she has rediscovered her libido.

Buster: Mother, have you seen my rubber hand?

Lucille: Oh, it’s in the dishwasher. Your father and I were using it for something.

Buster: Oh, for God’s sake. Can’t you keep my hand to yourself?!

In the same scene, Gob is storing a magician's trick cage in Buster's bedroom, and he's being interrogated about it by Lucille.

Gob: For your information, Dad asked me to do this on the day he pleads not guilty as a spectacular protest. A protestacular. Maybe even get it on the local news.

A few beats later:

Tobias: I so very much would like to be in your prostate-tickler.

A few beats later:

Buster: (Sniffs prosthetic hand.) Oh, God. I’m going to run this through again on "pots and pans."