Before I dive in, let me ask: have you seen this? It’s a photo Ron Howard tweeted of the Arrested Development writers’ room. You may have doubted it when you heard the actors were on board. You may have doubted it when Mitchell Hurtwitz said it was happening. You may have even doubted it when Netflix said they’d air the resurrection themselves, eliminating all the television middlemen. If this photo is still not evidence enough, then you, my dear reader, are one obstinate Doubting Thomas. It’s happening. It’s really happening.
But enough about the future. We’re here to rewind.
In the parlance of 80s television, “The Best Man for the Gob” is a very special episode. Its 22-minutes are devoted to the horror of self-medication, the importance of treating people with respect, and the power of self-actualization. If you’re not feeling good after this episode, you have not been taking your recommended dose of Zanotab.
Gob, at the behest of his father, throws a bachelor party to celebrate his new marriage. The nuptials, if you recall, were performed after a fling turned into an escalating series of dares, the culmination of which was ringing chapel bells. Not the most romantic setup, but marriages have been built on less (I’m looking at you, Kim Kardashian).
The party is a sham. George Sr. wants to use it to trick the company’s disgruntled accountant, Ira Gilligan, into leaving the country so he can’t testify about some missing money. The con is straight out of Godfather, Part II. A passed out Gilligan wakes up to find a girl covered in blood. Convinced he’s killed the stripper in a drunken rage, he takes Gob’s plane tickets and flees the country. That’s the way it would have gone down if the plan had been executed by the Corleone family. But this is the Bluths. Everything must go wrong.
When Michael turns up at the bachelor party, the con finally unravels completely. Buster has been punched out by the narcoleptic stripper and Gilligan is completely sober. George Sr. tries to avoid being culpable, but Michael sees through him when he chastises Gob for being incompetent. Throughout the episode, Gob’s been beholden to his father’s whims. In his first independent act, Gob turns off the television broadcasting his father’s video feed. He learns to be his own man with the click of a remote.
This is a turning point for Gob. Before this, he’d been a pushover. You can see it in the way George Sr. controls his life. You can also see it in his shirt-and-sweater combos, which mark his transformation from wild bachelor to buttoned-up husband. This transformation, by the way, is my favorite unspoken gag from season one. A lesser show would have made a jab at his new outfit, milking a joke about Gob’s lost manhood. AD takes the high road, letting the audience pick up on the change. As I’ve mentioned here before, this brand of subtle, respect-your-audience’s-intelligence comedy is my favorite.
Meanwhile, Tobias has a trick of his own. In an effort to bring his family closer together, Tobias takes a page from the Blues Brothers’ playbook. He’s getting the band back together—Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution. Their folksy brand of musical drug pushing kept the family in tact once. He figures it can happen again.
But even this plan fails. Maeby and Lindsay both quit last minute. Lindsay breaks off her commitment because she’s been taking drugs to get through practices, drugs that make her irritable. So irritable, she walks out of the gig and to the bar. The lesson here, I think, is that abusing pharmaceuticals doesn’t work. If you hate something, don’t numb yourself to get through it. Just do a half-assed job—that’s the American way.
Despite his wife and daughter walking out, Tobias tries it solo; a daring act sure to fail. Luckily, he’s saved by George Michael and Gob’s wife, who was one of the Solution’s biggest fans in her early, Teamocil-popping days.
So let’s break the lessons down. Drugs are bad. Drugs caused Lindsay to become irritable and break up the band. They also foiled the bachelor party plot. Buster drank all the fake blood making the con impossible. The fake blood, remember, was corn syrup and red dye. And sugar, I think we can agree, is a drug (at least for Buster). There it is. Drugs are bad. Lesson learned.
But wait. If it weren’t for drugs, Gob’s wife wouldn’t have known about the Solution and couldn’t have saved Tobias in his moment of need. And if Ira had actually been drinking, the con would have gone off without a hitch. I guess in that sense, drugs are good. They help get things done. But that does sound a little unsavory, doesn’t it? Maybe there’s a more wholesome lesson in this episode . . .
If there’s a positive message to take away, one that’s a little brighter than “drugs are bad sometimes,” then it might be this: be yourself, your best self. Don’t let others dictate who you are. You don’t have to follow their advice, but you should respect them enough to listen. Otherwise, your disgruntled accountant will end up robbing you and running off with the stripper you hired. I think we all know that’s the real lesson here.