Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz brightened the room at the TCA Summer Press Tour on Wednesday by announcing that a fifth season of the beloved (and revived) cult comedy was, at long last, “very close” to becoming a reality, and that he was aiming to begin production on season 5 early next year.
What will the new season look like? The world has changed since 2013’s season 4, one that has proved prescient when it comes to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the polarizing boundary-defining structure the real estate mogul is most keen on constructing. “The fourth season was all about the Bluths building a wall,” Hurwitz told EW. “This was before he made that comment. Even then it felt a little trite to me, but I had enough twists in my head, I knew what we were going to do with it, I knew what the twist was, and I still don’t want to give that away.”
“But so much of what we were getting at [will] still be viable,” he continued. “Where we left things in season 4, [Lindsay Bluth, played by Portia de Rossi] was becoming the Republican candidate arguing to put up this wall; even though she fought against it, she had completely flip-flopped. She was going to be running against her friend Sally Sitwell [Christine Taylor], but there were so many things that we had built into it that was all about Hispanic uprising, so I may pull back on that, just for comedic reasons, just because it might feel like a sketch, like too easy of a parody.”
Hurwitz says he hasn’t yet begun tweaking the story lines in light of the Trump development. “We worked with writers for about two months about four months ago when I thought we were going to be able to start shooting,” he notes. “We mapped out a lot of it, and then we stopped because actors weren’t available.”
Real life has encroached on the planned fifth season in other ways: It was set up as a murder mystery with the arrest of Buster (Tony Hale) for the murder of Lucille Two (Liza Minnelli) at the end of season 4, before the rise of the true-crime genre in pop culture (Serial, The Jinx, Making A Murderer, etc.) “There was a lot of Making a Murderer in there,” he says. “We quietly set up these guilty parties all over the place, and hopefully that won’t be old hat by now.”
And this is a struggle that the show has faced from the very beginning. “When we did the pilot of Arrested Development, I was worried that in the distance between when I wrote it and when it was shot, there had been so many accounting scandals, I thought this was going to be old hat,” he recalls. “It’s not fresh anymore — the idea of a patriarch who has been stealing money from his own company. It turns out certain things are perennials and they keep happening.”