Tobias is not gay and the show is not cancelled
This is something I’ve been meaning to write about for awhile, but I haven’t had a good opportunity. Why is it that the third season of Arrested Development handles its closet case in such an unfunny manner? We always knew Tobias was gay, but his inability to begin a new life was something comical. In the third season, it’s just painful — particularly when he and Lindsay set up dates with Bob Laidlaw and the dreadlocked hooker. Furthermore, it eventually becomes clear that everybody knows he’s gay. They talk about it, but nothing about his marriage changes.
Then I started re-reading psychoanalysts, and it dawned on me: for most of the third season, the writers of Arrested Development knew it was going to be cancelled. Thus there was no point in trying to develop Tobias in a new direction by having him come out. In fact, the constantly impending cancellation forced the show to be plotless, just as the title promised.
The increasingly blatant, but never consequential, references to Tobias’s homosexuality mirror the impending crisis of the cancellation, also mentioned directly by the narrator in a series of asides that dovetail with double entendres from Michael. In short, the show is forced to go on, with the fourth wall intact, even though everybody involved with it is aware of being a victim of an idiotic studio Darwinism.
The basis for the show’s comedy was the premise that the exceptionally good stuff happened whenever Michael’s corporate imperative could be circumvented by the nutty self-centeredness of his family. The fact that the show was garrotted before its time becomes an amusing meaning of the way the Bluths kill Tobias with their kind discretion.