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Netflix’s “Arrested” Development

Almost 10 years after it first arrived on the streamer, Netflix is saying goodbye to Arrested Development.
Almost 10 years after its debut, Netflix is saying goodbye to Arrested Development. Photo: Saeed Adyani/Netflix
Julia Alexander
February 14, 2023

In early 2013, Netflix took its first major step into original programming by greenlighting House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and a reboot of the delightfully arch comedy, Arrested Development. Cards and Orange became cultural phenomenons and awards magnets, but in many ways, Arrested proved to be the prototype for the content strategy that would define Netflix for years. It was an obsessively beloved but low-rated sitcom that offered more retention value and brand appeal on a nascent streamer than on Fox, where it had been canceled after three seasons. It was, as Ted Sarandos spoke about in a 2019 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, the perfect show for the then-nouveau binge release model, and it’s credited as a key title in convincing Netflix to pursue original TV programming instead of just hoarding library content. 

The show also demonstrated Netflix’s ability to unlock the value of an asset that wasn’t a good fit for linear TV. Creator Mitch Hurwitz’s multi-layered jokes went over the heads of traditional broadcast audiences, but the data pointed to an opportunity with fans who were binging the series or watching it on DVD. Sarandos quickly ordered a new season.