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...I mean that metaphorically, of course.
The episode is rife with subtle jokes that are both self-referential and pointing the finger at critics, fans, and their parent network (FOX) alike.
Using ridiculous ploys to open the show --such as "One of these people... will DIE!" montage showing the characters in quick succession, multiple TV celebrities appearing in the show, and a promised live finale of the episode, this chapter of the Bluths begins by the press all but writing off the Bluths. ...in court. Michael implores his family to tighten their belts and pull out all the stops to ensure their survival past the next few weeks (as the show was on the bubble of being canceled in a few weeks). A prompt immediately warns viewers to put on their 3D glasses, whereupon Gob throws a tomato at the camera. George Sr. suggests a "Save our Bluths" rally ("www.saveourbluths.org" appears on screen). Michael concedes that it's sad, but it's come to begging to ensure that the Bluth clan stays afloat (whereupon executive producer and series narrator Ron Howard flat-out tells viewers "Please, tell your friends about this show").
Even the title's episode "S.O.B.s" has a triple meaning: a message possibly to the network's executives for canceling the show, "sobs" (a sad state of affairs that such an intelligent show is being canceled), and the acronym itself for "Save Our Bluths"-- again, another plea for fans to recruit even more fans.
References to cable networks Showtime and HBO are made in sly fashion (as both networks were rumored to be in a war to lure the show to their programming lineup-- Showtime in fact had openly stated they would program 26 new episodes if series Mitch Hurwitz would sign off on it-- sadly, he didn't, fed up with dealing with the stress and network executive bull he'd accumulated over the past few years), in addition to references to the show's quick wit, self-references, complicated themes that are quickly resolved, running gags,and non-relatable characters that critics had stated about the show's formula ("If I may take off my acting pants and pull my analrapist stocking over my head", a spoken by Tobias Funke is one such line uttered, as it was a word he had used combining "analyst" and "therapist" to describe his career).
The show does fulfill every one of it's promises, giving guest stars, a dead character (a minor one-shot character who was quickly exposed as the soon-to-be victim long before it occurred), and a live ending, ensuring that it would end up as arguably one of the best episodes ever of the show's three-season run, and of most if not all sitcoms.
S.O.B whose title is meant to be a play on "S.O.B" which stands for
Save Our Bluthes, besides being an obvious joke, also refers to a movie
of that same name by Blake Edwards - the mega Hollywood comedic
director who created the Pink Panther series with "A Shot In the Dark"
( a line which is quoted in another episode by Tobais).
S.O.B was Blake Edwards's scathing rebuke of the Hollywood film industry that prefers glitz over content and forces artists to beg for money and pander to the lowest common denominator or the latest fad. Many previous reviewers have picked up on Arrested Development's criticism of the Hollywood funding machinery and how it effects the from and content of this episode- hence the 3D scene and the Live stream ending. What the creators of this show were doing was adding another lense/layer to see the episode through. Like a fine Old Masters painting, Arrested Development is made up of layers upon layers of transparent references that can be seen and stay invisible at the same time depending on its viewer: this is Semiotics at its best folks! How Meta this show gets is as far as your knowledge and imagination can take you! S.O.B is also an anagram for Standard Operational Bulls..t. BRILLIANT!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, this is it: my one hundredth review, officially making me a
prolific author. I thought it would be fitting to make the review on
the show I've already written a lot about, Arrested Development.
Today's subject: SOBs, a highlight of season 3.
When Futurama came back with the straight-to-DVD movie Bender's Big Score, they made thinly veiled jokes about being canceled and returning. They were trying to be clever, but AD had already done it better. The makers of the show used this episode to comment on AD's inevitable and fast-approaching cancellation. I don't have to tell you a lot because the first guy to write a review on this episode already talks a bit about it. It will suffice to note the guest stars, the references to HBO or Showtime picking up the show, the narrator asking viewers to tell their friends about the show. What the other reviewer didn't mention is that AD also pointed a finger at itself: it posed the question of whether the Bluths failed to be likable and relatable.
There's more to the episode than this, though. Note the character development- there's a reference here about Michael never crying, which has come up before and comes back in the last episode. This ties into the issue of whether George Michael can express his emotions too; Michael puts him in an unconventional school and George Michael reads something Maeby wrote about her dad. Touching on the sensitive issue of Michael's wife's death, and with Michael watching and thinking the writing is about him, George Michael's homework got an "Oh my god" not only from Michael and George Michael's teacher but from me as well. On the side we have rare bonding between Buster and Lindsay, over "hot ham water" which has become a famous joke among fans. Then we have GOB "accidentally" getting a job and learning what it's like.
We also have an exaggerated view of George Sr., sending poison muffins to teachers he dislikes. Personally, I think AD would be going too far if it started doing jokes about killing people (particularly if it were Michael or George Michael), but I don't mind this for a few reasons: (1) It's not said whether the poison was fatal; (2) It's George Sr. rather than the good guys Michael or George Michael doing it; (3) it's so over the top that it's probably not even canon. Other things strike me as being so silly that I don't think they're canon: the tomato throwing, the old woman dying at the party (I think they'd be a little more disturbed if that actually happened), Buster saying Lindsay looks hot. The last is the least subtle incest joke AD has ever done, but they seem to have done it just to make a comment on whether the characters actually are relatable. And that's the kind of complexity we love AD for.
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