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Why Buster Is the Best ‘Arrested Development’ Character

Arrested Development fans are busy counting down the hours until Season 4 premieres this Sunday at midnight on Netflix, and here at Flavorwire, we’re no different. So, we’re passing the time by declaring this Arrested Development Week, all leading up to a Recap-a-thon on Sunday, when our own Jason Bailey will review the whole season, episode by episode. This piece is part of a series of contributors’ essays in support of their favorite Bluth. Click here to follow our coverage.

The intricate misfortunes in Arrested Development would be Shakespearean if most of the Bluths weren’t terrible people. But it’s unmistakably tragic when bad things happen to innocent bystanders, and pure-hearted baby Buster easily has it worse than anyone. The preternatural mama’s boy has the most to lose if his family falls apart, too sheltered by Lucille and his siblings to have any concept of how the world works. Buster’s stunted growth screams for attention, but only rarely does he receive it. In return, he gives his family an unconditional love and loyalty they don’t deserve. Despite his status as the Bluth with the least amount of power, he would do anything he could to help those who would sooner take him off life support than actually listen to him.

Buster has no interest in scheming and makes more attempts than anyone to live a wholesome, honest life. Though he lingers in childhood, you can tell that Buster wants to grow up, but no one really takes the time to help. To compensate for years of neglect, he wanders like a lost baby bird in search of anything remotely resembling its mother. All he really wants is love and a semblance of safety, but he is doomed to look for it in the worst possible places — all of which look a lot like Lucille. Sadly enough, his desperate attempt to break free of this destructive cycle is what causes him to lose his hand and become the self-proclaimed monster of the Bluths.

In fact, Buster deserves the label less than anyone, and his role as patsy is probably what eventually makes him so terrifying to his family. As the moral center of the show, Buster’s suffering is a gauge of his family’s soullessness. Like Piggy in Lord of the Flies, Buster is a doomed innocent in a cruel, indifferent universe. If the Bluths were all hopelessly terrible people, we’d care a lot less about what happens to them. This is why it’s usually funny when something awful happens to G.O.B. or Lindsay, but poor Buster’s misadventures are actually painful for the viewer. But there’s hope in his ineptitude, as his abandonment has forced him to become the strongest member of the family. In the midst of stifling loneliness, confusion, and physical hardship, he has already begun to figure things out for himself without much help from anyone. Buster would do best to strike out on his own, but it’s his choice to stick around that makes him the most interesting character on the show.

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