The show opens out on a boat to meet the first character of the family; Michael Bluth. Overly professional looking he eagerly awaits the retirement of his father George Bluth, so he can rise and control the company in name as well as in work ethic. Calm and happy he awaits his father’s speech, until his mother, Lucille comes over stealing the moment; “Look what the homosexuals have done to me, Michael!”
Lucille is concerned that the sea-fairing retirement party is being upstaged by a group of protesting LGBTQ-er’s who are on a pontoon boat off to the side. Rolling her eyes dramatically in a way we will soon learn is the normal she breathless sighs, “Everything they do is so flamboyant and dramatic… it makes me want to set myself on fire!”
She is then joined by her daughter Lindsay Bluth Funke (also Michael’s twin sister) who attempts to either calm her mother down, or play a more dramatic hand. With Lindsay it is always hard to tell if her motivation is more than just vanity, or a response to her parental upbringing such as her (hasty?) marriage to Tobias Funke… who was not invited to the retirement party. Lindsay and Tobias were known for their many fundraisers, some of which even made money. Perhaps the most telling about the siblings is the tidbit thrown out by the narrator- neither Michael or Lindsay have spoken to each other in a year, yet neither will acknowledge it.
The last of the adult Bluth clan are the two other boys; Gob (Long “oh” like in ‘joke)- a failing but dedicated street magician, and Buster, the boy who never grew up and spread his wings. Buster, the youngest, has spent ages “studying” though when he panics- which he does a lot- he forgets everything.
We focus back to Michael after sorting through this menagerie of misfits to reveal the reason Michael is so happy; he is planning on never speaking or seeing his family again.
Stepping back in time to the morning of the boat party Michael is happily reflecting with his son, George Michael, on family and responsibility. Michael at this point believes he will be handed partnership at his father’s company where he has been working hard to move to the top. They live together in the model home that represents the Bluth Company’s biggest asset; a “soon to be developed” suburb. George Michael also works for the family; at the Bluth Original Frozen Banana Stand (est 1953) selling… frozen bananas (some with chocolate!).
Michael meets with Job to discuss the upcoming party, only to learn that Gob’s response to most anything is to put on a Magic Show! not always the responsible answer Michael searches for. More upsetting to him is learning from Gob that his sister Lindsay had been staying in town for a month- without trying to contact him. For all that he seems to be disappointed over and over again by the family, Michael is the character that does not give up, the strong arm which holds all the family together.
Meeting Lucille to discuss his sister Michael finds out that his mother has been spending much of the company money on his siblings, his face just reads of sadness at his mother’s reaction- more concerned about the loss of an animal’s foot from her fur wrap than concern for Michael’s care or company procedure. “I love all my children equally” Lucille spits back at him, while the narrator takes us all back to a day before when she confesses “I don’t like Gob all that much”. Lucille is the woman who seems to just tell people what they want to hear, as well as anything that makes herself sound better as a person. Doing her best to wink at him, which reads on Lucille reads like a case of temporary Bell’s Palsy she drops hints at Michael of a coming announcement at the ‘retirement’ party.
Foreshadowing in all of this is the extremely lax way in which company funds are spent on private and family matters.
At last we also meet Tobias, formerly Dr Funke who had moved out West with Lindsay when he lost his medical license- for administering CPR to a sleeping, but very alive, tourist. At this point it is easy to tell that there is something ‘different’ about Tobias, the audience is just not certain what. Lindsay also meets Michael and her husband at Lucille’s home before the party, an awkward affair that seems to milk un-truths from everyone but Michael.
Michael is getting upset with his family- while George Michael (working at the Banana Stand) meets and connects with his cousin Maebe. An instant and totally inappropriate crush is developed by George Michael for her, a fact which will come into play at the party when Maebe seeks her parent’s (Lindsay and Tobias) attention. A plan is formed to trick her parents – the cousins will pretend to not be related and “kiss” to freak out Lindsay. George Michael is unsure if his dreams are about to come true or if he will be arrested for “cousin lovin’ “.
Tobias meanwhile misunderstanding Michael gets dressed for a Pirate themed boat party and inadvertently groups together with the group of GLBTQ protesters, noting as well in the show that Tobias seems to slip between gender role lines often.
Finally back on the boat, the moment Michael has been waiting his lifetime for comes; his father announcing the new CEO of the Bluth Comp- “Certainly the smartest Bluth, and my favorite Bluth, and the uh, sexiest creature I have ever laid eyes on… Lucille!”
As the screams and party begins George Sr heads over to Michael. “Sorry son” is all he whispers as he gives Michael a brief hug. George Michael finds his father on the deck and Michael talks to him about getting ready to “move on”. Heading down the cabin, Maebe kisses George Michael quickly in an attempt to gain her mother’s attention to no avail, and a shocked George Michael seems to jump out of his skin as siren sounds come closer to the boat.
The boat descends into panic as the SEC approaches and Lucille attempts to direct Buster to steer the boat away from the authorities. Gob, trying to save and hide his father tosses him into the newest magic trick – the Aztec Tomb- only to have everything paraded in front of the TV news cameras. The fall of the Bluth empire begins.
The family that is left gathers at the police station to begin to sort things through. Tobias, detained with the GLBTQ protesters is released and quickly joins his family in the waiting area. Tobias has decided from his ordeal to become an Actor, and Michael is the one to tell his family that their father and Patriarch is going to be in prison- and the company accounts are frozen, that news to which the family visibly reacts. Lucille wants to hand the company over to Buster, and at this Michael explodes. Showing his anger, he takes George Michael and leaves, leaving his siblings to try and keep their lives afloat without him.
It does not take very long for Michael to find a new and valued position, and all of his family to agree that they needed Michael. They decide to have an intervention to keep him around and keep the company going. Gob is being pushed out of the Magician’s Alliance, Tobias is searching for a job, Buster is having non stop panic attacks and Michael just wants to escape to his new job in Phoenix.
Michael decides to give his formal resignation over to his father at the prison. His anger boils through and then it is revealed that George had decided to not hand the company over to Michael in an effort to protect him from the coming SEC crapstorm that he knew was coming.
Meanwhile back at the model home up in the attic talking to his aunt Lindsay, George Michael expresses that he wants to stay, wants a chance to bond with family since his mother died, and Michael overhearing the conversation stops to consider options. Talking with his sister he is frustrated but seemingly determined to do what is best for “family”… so he decides to stay, and pull the Bluths back together.
…. by having his sister’s family move in to the model home as well, and giving George Michael a new roommate; the cousin he has a crush on.
Until the next dysfunctional day, it’s been Arrested Development.