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Bringing Up Buster

"Bringing Up Buster"
Directors: Joe Russo — Writer: Mitchell Hurwitz & Richard Rosenstock — Aired: November 16, 2003 — Icon-image      

"Bringing Up Buster" is the third episode of Arrested Development's first season.

Michael spends quality time with Buster. George Michael auditions for a school play to get closer to Maeby. G.O.B. breaks up with his girlfriend and has nowhere to go.


Lucille & Buster[]

Because the family funds are frozen, Buster is on permanent hiatus from his studies and his prolonged time at home is driving Lucille insane. Michael agrees to spend more time with Buster, but that he has to help around the office. Buster interrupts during many important meetings. Back at the model home Buster rags on his mother with the rest of his siblings who are proud of him standing up for himself.

G.O.B., meanwhile, has been kicked out of his girlfriend Marta's house. Michael refused to let him crash at the model home but Lucille agreed to let him stay. When she asked him to zip up her dress he moved out. She also heard from Lindsay that Buster was talking trash about her.

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Buster is later put in charge of building a bicycle for George Michael. He forgot to install breaks, however, and crashes when he takes it out for a ride with Michael. A lonely and bitter Lucille returned to the office to get Buster but Michael said that Buster was doing fine without her. Buster then stood up for himself and told Michael that he liked living with his mother. He then firmly told his mother that he would sit in the front seat, a small but significant act of independence from his mother.

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Tobias & Maeby[]

When Maeby tells her father that she is auditioning for her school's rendition of Much Ado About Nothing he becomes jealous. Turns out she is just trying out for a chance to kiss Steve Holt. George Michael also tries out for a chance to kiss Maeby. Tobias asks to be the director of the play and subsequently struggles with creative decisions.

At home, Lindsay tries to find an excuse to purchase a new dress. Her mother and Michael tell her to find a job but she becomes determined to cheat the system by hiding the dress in the attic. Tobias finds it and makes it a part of his play.

Maeby quits, annoyed with her father. Tobias gives her female lead role to Steve, assuming George Michael is gay and interested in kissing the jock. George Michael quickly drops his male lead role and it is bequeathed to Maeby. The show opens and Maeby kisses Steve Holt, but doesn't find it pleasant because he is dressed and smells like Lindsay.

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Michael and George Michael[]

As Michael makes cornballs with The Cornballer for breakfast George Michael tells him that he is too busy for bike rides and cornballs. Lindsay comments that he is too grown up to hang out with his father. Michael tries to build him a new bike but George Michael continues to push him away. Michael visits his father in prison and George advises against coddling too much, else George Michael would end up like Buster. Lucille advises the opposite, to keep George Michael close.

Michael finds George Michael at home after quitting the play making cornballs. They both agree that they're important to each other and continue to make the dangerous breakfast.


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  • Richard Simmons as Himself
  • Jim Ishida as Administrator
  • Bart Tangredi as Coach Jerry

Recurring Themes[]

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  • Shakespeare - The play that is being performed is Much Ado About Nothing (since Tobias refers to Beatrice and Benedick, 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.
  • "Cold As Ice" - 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.
  • Ice Cream - When Michael burns himself on the Cornballer at the end of this episode, George Michael puts a carton of ice cream on his arm.
  • Is Tobias 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
  • "Pilot" - 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.
  • Ice cubes - G.O.B. plays the piano and sings "Cold As Ice"
  • Maeby's name used as forshadowing: When Maeby quits the play that her father is directing, she says "I quit!", to which Tobias responds "Maeby...", forshadowing her return to the play later in the episode. This small joke occurs in other episodes, such as Whistler's Mother.
  • High-Five - This is the first time G.O.B. tries to high-five someone although he is rejected by Michael.
  • Shoulder rubs - Buster rubs G.O.B's shoulders which he also does to various family members in the "Pilot".
  • "Steve Holt!" - This is the first time is name is shouted out.

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.
  • In the first scene at the model home, Maeby and G.O.B. can be seen lounging around the house in the background of some shots before they have any lines.
  • In the kitchen, Tobias makes a cup of coffee before G.O.B. wordlessly takes it from him. Tobias then makes another cup which Lindsay takes out of his hands for herself.

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.


→ See more quotes from "Bringing Up Buster" at Transcript of Bringing Up Buster.


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  • 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.)
  • This episode is rated TV-PG-DL.


  • 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.
  • When Michael burns his hand on the cornballer, George-Michael turns around, and his elbow hits the cornballer.
  • 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.


→ See more images from "Bringing Up Buster" at Category:Images from Bringing Up Buster.

1. "Pilot"
2. "Top Banana"
3. "Bringing Up Buster"
4. "Key Decisions"
5. "Charity Drive"
6. "Visiting Ours"
7. "In God We Trust"
8. "My Mother, the Car"

  9. "Storming the Castle"
10. "Pier Pressure"
11. "Public Relations"
12. "Marta Complex"
13. "Beef Consommé"
14. "Shock and Aww"
15. "Staff Infection"
16. "Altar Egos"

17. "Justice Is Blind"
18. "Missing Kitty"
19. "Best Man for the Gob"
20. "Whistler's Mother"
21. "Not Without My Daughter"
22. "Let 'Em Eat Cake"

Season OneSeason TwoSeason ThreeSeason FourSeason Five