Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

12 Apr 2009, 13:14 p.m.

Bluths as Bartlett's

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2009 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Some lines from Arrested Development stick in my mind as incisive embodiments of some less-acknowledged fallacies, afflictions, and distinctions. To wit:

  • Should the Fünkes try an open marriage? Tobias notes that many couples he counseled thought it would work for them, even though it never works, and indeed it didn't work for those couples either. Beat. "But it might work for us!"
  • Michael disengaging from Marta, his brother's girlfriend. "This is wrong...not hot wrong, regular wrong."
"Illusions, Dad! You don't have time for my illusions!" has a nice little critique of missing-the-point nitpicking, but it's not as strong an association for me. Any other candidates?


12 Apr 2009, 13:45 p.m.

alt.polyamory had a nice little name for the first one: "relationship broken, add more people" (implied: will only make it worse).

12 Apr 2009, 14:54 p.m.

"That's my wife, you bastard!" is a perfect illustration of the pathetic fallacy. (After Franklin says "I ain't kissin' that old bitch!")

12 Apr 2009, 14:58 p.m.

I'm reminded of a saying about how an addict is a relief seeking missile, w/r/t the whole polyamory thing


Sumana Harihareswara
12 Apr 2009, 18:04 p.m.

12 Apr 2009, 18:13 p.m.

I use a lot of these, at least in my head, but the most common one is George Michael's last line from this clip; it's a perfect combination of unconvincing about-face with not-quite-the-right-word-here.

George Michael: So, uh, you guys have a good talk?

Michael: Yeah, great talk. That cousin of yours is a hell of a girl. It�s too bad you can�t date her.

George Michael: No, I meant... Wait, you wouldn�t have a problem with that?

(Beat; Michael stares at George Michael.)

George Michael (sudden, cheerful laugh): Nothing!

Sumana Harihareswara
12 Apr 2009, 18:27 p.m.

Brendan: Right now my favorite version of that is the end of the "Target Women" on online dating. Re: the ad for the dating site where you find people to have an affair with:

Sarah Haskins: Who would have thought it's so hard to cheat?

Her "boyfriend": It's harder than you'd think!

Sarah: What?

Boyfriend: Whaaa? Huh?

And then they end the show together. Denial of the transparently obvious has many flavors, and they all show up in AD.

12 Apr 2009, 18:44 p.m.

I think Tobias is the source of a lot of this kind of thing, since almost his every line expresses his deep delusions by means of malapropism. This one about (sort of) responding to what you expect instead of what you actually hear is like a Freudian slip in reverse:

Jessie: There are very few intelligent, attractive and straight men in this town.

Tobias: Well, that certainly leaves me out.


Tobias: You said single, right? She said single.

13 Apr 2009, 1:03 a.m.

Oh, this is a great example of a fallacy! Not sure which one. Denying the antecedent, maybe?

George Michael: No, I�m not afraid of sex...

Tobias: Oh, good. Have sex with this girl right now!

14 Apr 2009, 9:53 a.m.

we are watching AD and went through an entire disk on the train, so it's funny to read this post when I've seen most of those episodes recently.