Culture

'Arrested Development' and 'The Corrections': On-screen Dysfunction, Doubled

Arrested Development promo shot courtesy of Fox Entertainment
Arrested Development promo shot courtesy of Fox Entertainment

There's something oddly symbiotic about the double dose of dysfunctional family-entertainment news making its way across the entertainment radiowaves these past couple of days.

First, immediately following news that the Bluth family will be returning to screens both big and small, there was a resounding hurrah from fans of the Ron Howard-created "Arrested Development." The show, which lasted only three seasons, was touted at times as "the best show show no one is watching." Weekly, those in the know followed the antics of the Bluth family -- Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), Gob (Will Arnett), George-Michael (Michael Cera), Michael Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) -- as they constantly aimed to out-con one another under the roof of a model home, overseen by stand-in patriarch Michael (Jason Bateman). Writer Mitchell Hurwitz and the rest of the cast and crew were doing something right with banana stands and never-nudes (oh, yes) as the show earned six Emmys during its short life. Fans have been chomping at the bit for its return ever since its 2006 cancellation. It seems they'll finally get their wish. It was announced at the New Yorker Festival that the show will, in fact, return for nine or ten new episodes and a movie.

Now, on the heels of that news -- and also from the confines of the New Yorker Festival -- Jonathan Franzen has confirmed that he will be adapting his 2001 National Book Award-winning novel The Corrections for HBO. The Corrections takes a heavier look at the dysfunctions that often lie at the roots of a family in turmoil. The Lamberts are a seemingly quiet, traditional Midwestern couple whose three kids have all flown the nest and headed east. As dementia begins to take over Mr. Lambert and the stresses of the changing times begin to descend upon him and his wife, tensions begin to grow -- and just in time for Christmas. When the three children return to the fictional town of St. Jude for the holidays, the family arrives at the moment their own flaws, the flaws of their parents, and their father's illness converge.

Family drama, rich characterization, a holiday tie-in -- all the makings of a great movie, right? Scott Rudin thought so, too, more than a decade ago when he originally optioned the film rights to the movie. Noah Baumbach, he of "The Squid and the Whale" and "Greenberg," is now set to direct. Casting rumors are already flying, with whispers of Donald Sutherland and Anthony Hopkins falling on perked-up ears.

So there you have it: two families, both dysfunctional, presented in two distinctly different ways. Tell us: How do you like your dysfunction served up -- with a heavy hand or with a side of hilarity?

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