A Bluth Got to Have a Code – ‘Arrested Development’ Rewind: ‘Beef Consommé’

I believe it was Michael Bluth who said, “A man got to have a code.” Oh, wait. My mistake. That was Omar Little. Still, had Michael said it, it wouldn’t be less true of his character, or less valuable as advice, because life’s greatest struggle is the dizzying wire act between doing what is right, what is wrong, and what, as Michael puts it, is hot-wrong. In “Beef Consommé,” Michael does all three, breaking his own rules in the process. All in the name of forbidden love.

Michael’s always said that what’s important, what comes before anything else is—say it with me now—breakfast family. But he’s torn, because he’s learned that the woman he has feelings for, Marta, aka Gob’s girlfriend, has feelings for him, too. Tragically, the thing that binds them together also keeps them apart. Marta says it best, “We live by our code, you and I, to honor family.” This dedication to family is what attracted them initially, but it also makes their love forbidden. Nothing sexier than that. Which is why they start making out.

And they would have gone all the way, too, if they weren’t constantly reminded of Gob—his photograph in Marta’s room, his wand in her bed, his recording of John Paul Young’s “Love is in the Air” playing on her stereo. Michael can’t perform with all the Gob-tinted guilt. He needs to do “the wrong thing the right way” and come clean. Then and only then will he feel comfortable banging his brother’s former paramour.

Marta’s aptly titled Spanish soap opera El Amor Prohibido serves as a perfect backdrop for this episode. The betrayal. The feuding family. The passion. There’s even Buster—the obtuse angle in this triángulo amoroso—who comes to declare his love to Marta via mariachi band. What’s soapier than two brothers in love with the same woman? That’s right. Tres hermonos.

When Michael confesses his and Marta’s feelings to Gob in two-thirds of a hospital room, Gob is uncharacteristically gracious. He offers Michael his blessing, certain that Michael will never follow through—he lives by a code, after all. But follow through he does, arriving at Marta’s in a tux (it must be after six), carrying champagne and flowers.

This can only lead to one thing: the dramatic confrontation. The third and final time (in this episode) he breaks his pledge to family. His first offense was, of course, getting to second base with Marta behind Gob’s back. Then he arrives late to George Sr.’s hearing, destroying the illusion that the Bluths are a loving family. Finally, he fights with Gob on the courthouse lawn. Had he stuck to his code and put family first, none of this would have happened.

Omar is right. A man must have a code. While each of the Bluths has a personal code, they all deviate eventually. That’s when they all get into trouble. Michael ideally wants to put family above all else, but we only need to look to Marta to see how quickly he dispenses with it. See where he ends up? With no Marta at all.

Gob had his code—the magician’s code. By breaking it, he lands on the Magician’s Alliance blacklist, suffering for it for the duration of the series. Lindsay believes in saving the environment, except when she doesn’t. I could go on but you get the idea.

The only outlier in this group, the only one who consistently manages to adhere to a code is George Michael. Like his father, he too believes in family first, though his allegiance to the maxim is naïve and intractable. Always willing to support his family, George Michael suffers for staying on the straight and narrow. Wouldn’t you know it, life simply isn’t fair.

Needing to determine whether his feelings for Maeby are hot-wrong or just regular-wrong, George Michael investigates if he’s actually blood related to Maeby. After discovering that they may not be from the same family tree, he’s ready to Pete Rose it into the land of cousin-lovin’. But when Maeby admits she’s grateful to have a cousin like George Michael for support, he has a change of heart. For her, GM sets aside his feelings in order to keep her happy. That’s the right thing. You could even call it love, forbidden or otherwise.

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