It’s… A Russian Development

Flavor-making eggheads might enjoy – before catching themselves and wincing at – comparisons of literary classics and cultish TV shows. I usually do, and I don’t even make flavors. But not all of us at TJP refrain from cultural mélange-ing. Collectively, we revel in coaxing hidden spiritual truths into the light – no matter where they’ve been hiding.

My own doubts battle with the fear that, well, I’ve made a huge mistake. And all because of Helen Rittelmeyer and her blog over at First Things… or actually because of one particular blog post where she masterfully compared Arrested Development to the Russian novel to end all Russian novels - The Brothers Karamazov… O. M. G.

***

First, consider the three great brothers of literature – Ivan, Dmitri, and Alyosha Fyodorovich Karamazov:

Brothers K by spoonybards at deviantart.com

Brothers K by spoonybards at http://spoonybards.deviantart.com

Now, consider three brothers of Orange County: Michael, GOB, and Buster (‘Georgeovich’?) Bluth:

AD Headshots by methodshop.com at Flickr

Top Row: GOB, Michael and Buster Bluth

And now let’s compare. The first of each set, Ivan and Michael, is intelligent and plagued by a sense of duty to God and family.  The second, Dmitri and GOB, are impulsive, greedy, yet blissfully naïve.  How can you hate them?  The third, Alyosha and Buster, are young, lovable, and saintly in their devotion to God or family.  Or Lucille 2.

***

Parallels abound.  TBK holds the storied dialogue of the Grand Inquisitor, confronting Jesus about the problem of evil in the world.  Why free will, he asks, if God allows it to be misused?  In response, Jesus kisses the elderly inquisitor – right on the lips. Alyosha gets up and does the same to his doubting brother Ivan.  Awkward, or endearing?

One wonders if that chapter wasn’t behind this scene between GOB and Michael?

GOB: “Taste the happy, Michael!” Michael: “Tastes kind of like sad.”

GOB: “Taste the happy, Michael!”
Michael: “Tastes kind of like sad.”

Michael Bluth stays true to what he knows to be good, even when his brain tells him to cut and run.  Like Ivan Fyodorovich, he’s rarely sure it’s worth the effort to do good – but he does it anyway.

I’ve one more comparison worth throwing into the mix: both Arrested Development and Brothers K are acquired tastes.  I’ve coached friends to stick with AD for at least three episodes before they get the humor.  And I’ve ditched TBK after reading thirty dread pages more than once.  But hard-won treats are worth it, which explains why both keep popping up, with promises of an AD movie (praise the Lord!) and fourth season (praise all His works!).

***

You may still be doubting.  I can respect that.

But consider this: AD’s creator Mitch Hurwitz has a degree in theology and English from Georgetown.  No tricks – and no illusions.