Between seasons 3 and 4, Lindsay Bluth-Fünke has apparently not only changed her face and weight, but has also been on a spiritual journey in India. One of the best things about the original Arrested Development was how intelligently done it was, and so far in this new season they’ve stuck with this (but I’m only on episode 5). Lindsay’s Eat Pray Love trip to India wasn’t exactly portrayed accurately – is her hotel in the mountains or in Mumbai? because it can’t really be both… – and I guess it was offensive that her room has to smell like an animal.
However, all of this can be excused, because Arrested Development is written on the basis that white upper-class American culture is hilarious because of the ridiculous things white people do – like read Eat Pray Love and fly to India to “find themselves” – and it doesn’t change this during it’s portrayal of India. The intent was never to make fun of India, it was to make fun of white people in India; this is something I can entirely support, because white people in India really are ridiculous. Lindsay gets scammed by the shopkeepers and speaks with a shaman who may or may not actually be a shaman – stuff that really does happen to white tourists in India. While Lindsay doesn’t know she’s being scammed, the audience is never led to believe that the purse she buys really was worth 120 USD. The shopkeepers aren’t portrayed as exotic less-than-human creatures; they’re intelligent and understand the market of white people they are trying to cater to.
Yes, this stereotype of white people hurts me when I live in India, but a lot of the time it’s also accurate – I just wish shopkeepers would focus on the people who are dressed like tourists (see: Lindsay Bluth-Fünke, harem pants, om t-shirts, and salwars with tank tops), instead of the ones who know how to properly carry a dupatta and have bought even all of their western clothes at Reliance Trends and Anokhi. If this were a Hindi movie intended for Indian audiences, it would probably upset me for indulging in this stereotype, but it’s not. It’s an American TV show intended to show Americans how ridiculous Americans can be, and in this episode it did a great job showing us that.
Only Arrested Development could get away with this episode. Is the fourth season as good as the first? No, probably not, but this portrayal of white people going all Eat Pray Love and going to India reminded me why it’s still a great show. That book is literally the worst.