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Bringing Up Buster

"Bringing Up Buster" is the third episode of the Arrested Development series.


Michael is making Cornballs for breakfast - a Bluth family tradition since George Sr. tried to market a device called the Cornballer in the mid-1970s - in preparation for him and his son George Michael's Sunday bike ride. However, George Michael isn't sure he wants to continue the tradition anymore. G.O.B. comes in and announces he's had another fight with his current girlfriend, Marta, and asks if he can stay with Michael for a while. Michael declines, which Lindsay tells G.O.B. is because Michael feels bad because his son feels suffocated by him. When Tobias finds out that his daughter Maeby is auditioning for the school play, he assumes it is to get closer to him. In fact, Maeby hopes to be cast as the romantic lead alongside a boy named Steve Holt, so that they could share a kiss. George Michael is also auditioning for the play in the hopes of starring alongside his cousin Maeby to share that same kiss with her. Maeby and Steve Holt get the lead roles, and George Michael, cast as the stand-in, is ready to quit... until he learns that since Steve Holt has football practice, George Michael will be kissing Maeby during rehearsals.

Since Buster's post-graduate studies are on permanent hiatus due to reduced family funds, Lucille is beginning to resent her son's constant presence. Lucille chides Michael for not spending more time with Buster, and drops Buster off to spend the rest of the day with him. Michael tries to adjust to less time with George Michael by spending more time with Buster, who begins to join in the family's venting about their mother, Lucille. Maeby is horrified when Tobias arrives at rehearsal announcing that he is the play's new director. Tobias is horrified by what he sees as a lack of chemistry between George Michael (the stand-in for the play's star, Steve Holt) and Maeby. And George Michael is horrified because Tobias won't let the scene continue long enough for him to kiss Maeby. Feeling frustrated by her father's constant interference, Maeby quits. And while searching for a way to get more chemistry, Tobias sees George Michael talking to Steve Holt, and comes to the conclusion that George Michael is gay. Tobias gives George Michael Steve's role, and casts Steve in Maeby's former role of Beatrice. Frustrated by Tobias's direction and worried by the thought of kissing Steve Holt, George Michael quits the play. Which Tobias salvages by casting Maeby as the lead male opposite Steve Holt as the lead female.

Over at Bluth Co., Lucille catches word from Lindsay that Buster has been complaining about her and barges into the office to take Buster back home. She then advises Michael to hold tight to his son like she does with Buster, but when Michael returns home, he finds a contrite George Michael ready to cornball with his father.

Episode notes

  • This is one of the favorite early episodes of Arrested Development, and generally considered to be on an even level with Top Banana.
  • The title is a play on Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn movie Bringing Up Baby.
  • The first three episodes in general earned the show a Red Light from the Parents Television Council (PTC), who took objections to the incest theme between George Michael and Maeby, the innuendos used such as "cornholing", "flamer", or Tobias's homosexual comments, and the common usage of "censoring" expletives with a bleep. However, many fans argue that the innuendos used on the show are fairly vague, and would not be understood by children who didn't already know those terms. Additionally, while the PTC acknowledges that "'bleeps' are scripted into the program", it referred to Buster's speech in this episode as being "censored by the network". Actually, Buster's actual words were anything but vulgar, as actor Tony Hale does not curse. (You can read his lips to see he is reciting the alphabet.)


  • Shakespeare - The play that is being performed is Much Ado About Nothing (since Tobias refers to Beatrice and Benedict, characters in that play, and a poster reads "Much Ado About Nothing Auditions"), although the lines that George Michael, Steve Holt, and Maeby are shown reciting during their auditions are actually from As You Like It.
  • Richard Simmons - Richard Simmons, a flamboyant American fitness guru, appears, somewhat ironically, in the infomercial for The Cornballer.
  • The song G.O.B. plays when he moves into Lucille's apartment is the Foreigner song "Cold As Ice."

Callbacks/Running Jokes

  • Bleeps - This episode features two of the longest bleeps in the series.
    • Buster responds to Michael's ribbing about racing on their bikes with a five second comment almost entirely bleeped, to which Michael responds, "Well, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that."
    • While trading negative comments on their mother, Buster takes things a step too far and horrifies his siblings with a bleeped tirade that lasts for a full eight seconds.
  • Catlike Agility - We first see a demonstration of Tobias's self-described "catlike agility" in this episode as he rolls onto the stage.
  • Tobias is Gay - There are a couple of jokes that allude to the possibility that Tobias may be gay.
    • He is very quick to assume George Michael is gay. Later, Maeby tells George Michael that her father "thinks everyone's gay."
    • He confuses gender repetitively when talking about Steve Holt, ending with "For the love of God, she's playing a woman".
    • The coach who was previously set to direct the play calls Tobias a "little fruit".
    • When getting the kids to act out the romance in a more mature way, he reminds them that they are playing adults with fully-formed libidos, not "two young men playing grab-ass in the shower."
    • When Michael and Tobias are talking at the model home about George Michael, he is wearing a chain on his glasses like women do
  • Michael's request for Buster to go into the Snack Room so he'll make less noise directly mirrors his request for Buster to bang his drum on the balcony in the Pilot.
  • Never Nude - When Tobias is in the shower, he is wearing his cutoffs.
  • "Zip me up" - G.O.B. decides it's time to leave the apartment when Lucille asks him to zip up her dress.

Hidden/Background Jokes

  • Book - G.O.B. is seen reading a book at Lucille's apartment called Turn of the Century French Erotica.
  • Shredding - G.O.B. feeds a chain of paper clips, a pencil, and slices of white bread into the office shredder.

Character Cameos

  • This is the first appearance of Steve Holt, who would play only a minor part this season, but became a much bigger character in later seasons.
  • This is one of the only two appearances of Leonor Varela as Marta, commonly referred to as Marta 1.0 by fans.

Foreshadowing/Future References

  • Buster's Real Father - George, Sr. says Buster spent eleven months in the womb, indicating that Lucille may have conceived Buster two months after they stopped having sex. George Sr.'s mentioning that the doctor said there were "claw marks" on the inside of her womb may parallel Lucille's manipulation of doctors seen in My Mother, The Car.
  • "Her?" - In response to Tobias's casting of Steve Holt as the female lead, Michael utters the one-word phrase that would become one of the show's catchphrases in the second season.


  • In the first scene where Michael is using the cornballer and burns his hand, he's seen using a piece of ice in a rag to cool his burn. The piece of ice can be seen falling onto the counter out of the rag, but they continue filming anyway like it didn't happen.
  • The school play is “Much Ado About Nothing,” but the line they act, “I would kiss before I spoke” is from “As You Like It.”

External links

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