3 Responses to “The Arrested Development Factor: When Being Great Isn’t Enough”


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  1. Nye

    Weighing in…. AR suffered from being on a network that didn’t know how to sell them, and in fact kept cutting their budget. To which they upped the things they could control, like writing and acting.
    However, AR has found success in syndication, and DVD sales. Fox’s obvious guilt led to the allowance of the awful “sit down shut up’ cartoon by the same producing team.

    What I would argue, as someone who faces this exact problem, is that in the long run AR had tremendous success simply by being really good. Michael Cera became a movie star, multiple actors rebooted their career and the writing brain trust all went onto good things. Similarly Brad Bird made “the Iron Giant’, which was completely misunderstood by Warner Brothers, but the quality of the movie later made it a cult hit and gave Bird the opportunity to lead Pixar in making one of the best movies.
    In most cases, as a producer, you can only control the quality of your product and when it is delivered. You, usually, do not control marketing. Youmake the absolute best thing you can (which may not get immediate results, but get long term benefits.)

  2. Nye

    Side note… I meant AD not AR. Haven’t had coffee yet.

  3. avishp

    Hi Nye, thanks for the comment.

    I certainly agree with you that sometimes there are things that are out of your control, and the best thing you can do is to be amazing (and keep working at getting better)

    My article wasn’t just directed at the artist though. Sure, if you are a writer on a great sitcom with network execs who can’t sell you, then you may be doomed to fail. However, looking at AD as a complete system, and not just a creative endeavor, I think we can learn from why it didn’t make it on it’s first run.

    A lot of people (small business owners specifically) have control over both sides of the equation – the quality of their work and the actions they take to get that work out there. Similarly, even artists who have no control over some of the promotional sides of things can still take actions in addition to being good. Maybe they can’t promote th work, but they can promote themselves, using all four of the ideas I mentioned – getting the word out there (networking, websites, etc), maximizing chances of success, being spreadable, and being persistent.

    I totally agree with you that in the long run AD had success becuase of what spun out of it. But in terms of achieving what it initially set out to achieve (being a long running, popular, well watched TV show) it didn’t, and that’s what i am hoping we can learn from.


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