Jungian Archetypes in Arrested Develpoment

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Jungian Archetypes in Arrested Develpoment

Post  almatalbot on Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:14 pm

Jungian Review- Arrested Development

Summary
“This is the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and their one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.”- Arrested Development prologue. Arrested Development follows Michael Bluth as he struggles to keep his large and dysfunctional together after some “shifty accounting” lands Michael’s father George Sr. in prison, leaving the family penniless.

Archetypes-
Character
Michael is the hero of the story, who is faced with new obstacles each episode, which stand in his way of his plans to rebuild the company his father destroyed. Though Michael is the hero, he is also an outcast. His family has been outcast from society since his father’s arrest, and among them Michael is the only level-headed one, making him an outcast among his ignorant family members.
Technically, everyone in his family fits the trickster archetype. They all hamper his progress, often knowingly and for their own personal gain. However, Michael’s eldest brother Gob is the most prominent, and well deserving of the trickster title.
The family thinks of Gob as a clown and much emphasis is put on his career as a magician. He is immediately established as someone who hinders Michael’s business progress in episode two of the series (“Top Banana”). Michael gives Gob an important insurance letter to mail, which his brother hurls into the Ocean in a fit of jealous rage. Gob acts on his emotions, ultimately making him the biggest liability in the family. He does not mean to be as much of a nuisance as he is, since he acts mostly for attention, and not in hopes of destroying opportunities or relationships.

Symbolic
The series begins on his father’s retirement party, thrown on the family yacht. Michael believes he will be his father’s successor, thus being reborn into the company. However after his father’s arrest, everything takes place on land. The show is set in California, widely acknowledged as a wealthy, luxurious area. It is also known for its deserts and hot, sunny climate. The Bluth family has taken advantage of every luxury of the area and seems to have become unable to function without it. Much like how a person would wander aimlessly in a hot desert until they met their demise, the Bluth family has been sucked into the charmed lifestyle of rich Californians, and Michael is left struggling to keep them afloat in their current financial rut.
Much of the action takes place in Michael’s model home where he lives with his sister, brother-in-law, niece and son. The model home is situated in an undeveloped lot, presumably just outside the city. The abundance of sunny, deserted open space is symbolic of the lack of growth in his family’s life, and is paralleled in the lazy, freeloading attitudes of his family.




Situational

There are several situational archetypes playing roles in Arrested Development. The family faces an obvious a fall after George Sr.’s arrest. Michael faces the biggest fall simply because he is the most aware of the gravity of the situation, while the rest of his family remains relatively ignorant. However, the family faces a general fall from the bliss of the privileged life and faces expulsions (Gob’s expulsion from the Magician’s Alliance, Lucille’s denial of golf privileges at the yacht club) and small penalties (such as working) which to them, are huge upsets and highly unreasonable.
Each episode seems to send Michael on a new journey in search of information which will help him to rebuild the Bluth Company. He usually seeks out information from his father who withholds it from him, sending Michael through an emotional. Michael often finds himself conflicted between loyalty to his family, and his frustration and resentment towards them.

By Alma Talbot

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Re: Jungian Archetypes in Arrested Develpoment

Post  janealicek on Sat Jan 29, 2011 9:43 am

I think that another symbolic archetype, which could be applied, is the Battle Between Good and Evil. This could relate to the constant opposition between Michael and his family. Michael is morally superior to the rest of his family and is constantly battling against them to achieve his goodness. The family’s ignorance and selfishness are characteristics of evil. Each episode has the underlying theme of this battle through Michael attempting the rebuild the family company. I agree that Michael constantly finds himself conflicted between loyalty and resentment towards his family. This also applies to the Battle between Good and Evil because there are obvious complications when fighting against family.

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Re: Jungian Archetypes in Arrested Develpoment

Post  martynmd on Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:02 pm

I think another archetype that you could apply is that of the mentor to Michael's father. Now before some of you say "Whaaaaat?", I am referring to before he got into the state he is in during the series. Before he fell from the heights he had reached, he had worked hard to build the company up from scratch. Michael looks up to the image of his father that he built up in the past and when his family is in the doldrums, he is the individual who attempts to rebuild and restore their position in society. Though it often seems during the series that his father is distracting or obstructing him, I find that he inadvertently (or not) teaches Michael a lesson.

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Character Archetypes

Post  kate.lich on Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:09 pm

Other character archetypes come to mind after reading this post. One of the funniest relationships is the relationship between George Micheal and his cousin, Maeby. They are the star-crossed early teen lovers whose weird goings on will never come to any sort of real love. After all they are cousins. Another character George Senior, who is another family outcast. You don't feel that he is any sort of role model for his children and because he has carelessly lost the family fortune, he'll never be forgiven by some of the materialistic family members.

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Feedback

Post  Mr. C on Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:23 pm

Alma - a great show to analyze and you brought up some great points. I liked how you mentioned that all of the characters act as Tricksters to Michael as Hero. And of course, how appropriate that Gob plays the role of magaician. And you hit the nail on the head with choosing The Fall as the situational - the entire construct of the show is based on this, and it seems every episode ends this way. I was a bit confused about the symbolic - are you suggesting water vs. desert as the symbolic polarity? I think it is there, I just needed it spelled out for me.

Martyn - I agree, there is definitely a bit of The Mentor in his father and not just in his past, which definitely motivates Michael. He is constantly giving advice to everyone, especially Michael. Of course, it is usually from a selfish perspective, which is why he is an Ironic Mentor.

Great additions from everyone else. I loved this show and was sad to see it go.
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