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Privilege in a dress: Arrested Development's transphobic slip

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WBEZ91.5
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April 26, 2013
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Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in. However, other times things just suck. This week, Arrested Development sucked.

I’ve been excited for months about the promise of the show’s return. Arrested Development is one of my favorite things in the world, a show that never sacrificed intelligence in its quest for jokes. Creator/writer/producer Mitchell Hurwitz created a show that was dense with jokes, some so brilliantly weird that it took viewers multiple views to pick up on the humor. Hurwitz reportedly spent weeks crafting some of the episodes, and it took Hurwitz five years to get the reboot off the ground. If the AD could come back, he wanted to get it right. The viewers deserved that.

However, a recent joke from the show’s promotional materials calls into question that capacity for caring about their audience. Writer Zinnia Jones reports that the show has been using transphobic humor to sell its relaunch. One advertisement, which has now been pulled, asks viewers, “Who’s your favorite tranny granny?” The caption is next to pictures of Tobias in drag, as Mrs. Featherbottom, and George Sr. in a dress.