Amidst news that the television show Arrested Development will return via Netflix, I saw recently a connection between the patriarch of the show, George Bluth, and McMansions in an opinion piece dealing with a New York Times op-ed on sprawl from earlier in the week:
Rarely is a discouraging word ever spoken against government spending millions to widen roads, install sewerage mains, and build schools so George Bluth Bill Pulte can build yet another exurban mcmansion development.
The reference to Bill Pulte refers to Pulte Homes, self-described as “one of the nation’s largest homebuilders.” (From personal experience, I can safely say Pulte did not build only McMansions.) This is not the first time I’ve seen this connection. Indeed, a quick Google search of “George Bluth” AND McMansion turns up 708 results. One poster in a discussion of McMansions at DemocraticUnderground.com even went so far as to ask ” WWGBD? What would George Bluth do?” Probably not the best question to guide one’s life. An Entertainment Weekly review after the pilot emphasized McMansions as part of the setting for the show:
Shot in digital video and freed from the enhanced indulgence of a studio audience, the show romps in McMansionland and finds plenty to laugh at: grad students practicing Native American drum rituals, maids on public transportation carting racks full of furs for storage, and housing developments with names like Sudden Valley.
I don’t know if this is an authoritative site including all AD scripts but this search for “McMansions” turns up no matches. And having seen all of the episodes, I do remember the show poking fun at these neighborhoods (giant homes built in what looked like partially completed neighborhoods in a desert) but can’t recall the main characters really ruing the fact that the family business involved building McMansions. While the irony was surely intended to draw attention to the absurdity of such homes, are they ever specifically denounced on the show?
This isn’t the only television show connected to McMansions. The Sopranos also invited comparisons as they lived in a well-appointed New Jersey home and certain reality shows, like The Bachelor/Bachelorette have prompted critics to say the contestants live in McMansions.