This week, Alia Shawkat stars in Search Party, the new TBS series about a listless twentysomething who decides to track down a college acquaintance who has mysteriously disappeared. The show is great, and marks a return to regular series television for Shawkat, who has spent the last few years starring in cool independent films (like Green Room and Paint it Black) while occasionally guest-starring on hip sitcoms like Portlandia and Drunk History.
The last time Shawkat had a regular role on a TV series, it was as Maeby Fünke on Arrested Development, the cultishly adored Fox sitcom which returned from cancellation in 2013 for a fourth season on Netflix. There have been rumors and active discussions about a fifth season ever since.
Will Maeby return? Well…maybe! “Our agents got phone calls that were like, ‘We want to make deals with everybody!'” Shawkat tells EW. “So that’s, like, a sign something’s happening.” Shawkat knows that Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz has had some meetings about the next phase of the show’s life. “I know Mitch and the other writers were gathered together,” she says, before laughing, “They sound like they’re in a cult or something!”
The fourth season of Arrested was brutal for many characters, but it’s hard to think of anyone who turned out worse than Maeby. The onetime teen studio exec wound up arrested for sex with a minor – she thought he was an undercover cop! – and while they were filming the last season, Hurwitz teased Shawkat about her character’s future. “He was like: ‘We pick up with you in the penitentiary!'” Shawkat says. (Possible Orange Is the New Black crossover?)
Shawkat was a young teenager when she started working on Arrested. Now 27, she has become philosophical about the show’s place in culture and in her life. “Maybe it’ll never end,” she says. “Maybe that’s the point. What was that BBC show, Seven Up! and 42 Up? That’s what it kind of feels like. I’m flattered that people still are, like, ‘Another round!'”
For more from Shawkat, check out this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly.