Bateman is an excellent actor, and his character is the ostensible protagonist of Arrested Development. Since the start of the series, he’s played the straight man to his kooky relatives, the guy impressed by how normal he is compared with his hook-having, Magicians’ Alliance-betraying family members. One of the show’s many ironies, of course, is that Michael really isn’t that different, that he shares his kin’s congenital self-centeredness. But in the original Fox seasons, a sense decency and love of family—especially love of son—kept him relatable.
In Season Four, he’s even more central to the show. Famously, showrunner Mitchell Hurwitz struggled to reassemble the old cast for this new run of episodes, and schedules conflicted so much that he ended up having to use green screens and write-around techniques to bring the old ensemble together. Each installment therefore revolves around one particular character in the Bluth family. But Michael always makes an appearance, usually as part of his quest for signatures to obtain the rights to make a movie based on his family’s life.
The most jarring aspect of this season, though, was how show creator Mitchell Hurwitz and his writers seemed to flip a switch on Bateman’s character, turning him into a full-fledged sociopathic weirdo with no explanation of why.
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