SPOILER ALERT: if you haven’t watched all of season 4 of Arrested Development–the new season that debuted all 15 episodes at once on Netflix this past Sunday–turn back now. Or if you have no idea what Arrested Development is, you should probably stop reading anyway because you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about. Go watch it. It’s funny.
Okay, welcome to the spoiler zone. So George Michael is “building” “privacy software!” As a huge Arrested Development fan myself and someone who works at an actual online privacy company filled with Arrested fans, we loved the Fakeblock plot. I mean, we make online privacy software that blocks social networks from following you around…and it’s real.
So I’ve decided to pay homage to Fakeblock here, to show my respects from one real privacy company to a, uh, nonexistent one.
In Season 4, Episode 1 (“Flight of the Phoenix”), George Michael Bluth struggles for privacy from his father Michael, who’s decided to shack up in his son’s dorm room. (Did this season’s Michael strike anyone else as uncharacteristically clueless, by the way? The Michael from seasons 1-3 was always the most reasonable one, which I guess isn’t saying a lot.)
Afraid of hurting his father’s feelings by telling him the truth about feeling crowded, George Michael says that he needs privacy…to work on his privacy software.
He says it’s called FakeBlock. Michael asks him more about it:
Michael: Hey, tell me about the software thing. This is the Faceblock thing you’re working on? Is it like Facebook?
George Michael: Uh, well, no. It’s kind of the opposite of Facebook, you know? Facebook connects you with everyone, and this blocks you from everyone.
Michael: Oh, okay. Kind of like the antisocial network, right?
George Michael : That’s very good.
Michael keeps walking in on his son as he’s seemingly embroiled in intense software development discussions:
Which, by the way, is the story of our collective lives at Abine…when we aren’t marathoning Arrested Development or playing Smash Brothers…or Risk…or chess…or watching/reading Game of Thrones.
We don’t hear about the Fakeblock story for a while until the Maeby-focused episode 12, “Senioritis,” when Michael gives his son an opening to explain his privacy software to his cousin. And to impress a girl, he spins the lie even further. The viewer doesn’t yet know it’s a lie, so it sounds pretty impressive…so impressive that it crushes Maeby’s self esteem.
Michael: He’s got this privacy software. Keeps people from stealing your stuff–tell her, pal.
Maeby: So it’s privacy software that’s also antipiracy?
GM: (Rambles on explaining in the background)…they want to steal your music and copy your movies or just look at your photos…this prevents that. It just neutralizes that so it’s not even a threat. It’s called Fakeblock.
Michael: Great name.
GM: Oh well, you know, it’s just super low-hanging fruit. Someone’s going to do it. We’re just trying to be those guys, you know.
Michael: I don’t understand a word of it, but it works. You should see his Facebook page: doesn’t have a friend on it.
Narrator: Of course, that last part had nothing to do with Fakeblock…
George Michael: Thank you, Dad.
Narrator: … but it did help George Michael’s self esteem.
Later, at the Opie Awards/Herbert Love fundraiser/Schnoodle’s Tony Wonder event, George Michael gets the setup to impress yet another girl with his computer programming genius: Ron Howard’s daughter, Rebel Alley. Except he’s pretty hesitant to do so, given how out of hand the whole FakeBlock thing had gotten without any actual software behind it. Well, any non-woodblock software, at least.
Rebel: Oh. How does your privacy software work?
George Michael: Huh? It’s private.
He turns to Maeby.
George Michael: Fakeblock is just a software I’m developing, and the whole point is that it’s private. So you can’t be telling people about it.
Maeby: And also, I think you should consider calling it “The Fakeblock.” It’s cleaner. Like “The Netflix.”
After this backwards Shaun Parker advice, George Michael finds himself talking to Rebel again, and she’s complaining about how hard it is to delete your Facebook profile. So true.
Rebel: So what is this? Is this another one of those social networking things? Because I am so over those. I tried to deactivate my Facebook profile…it’s easier to get out of Scientology.
Maeby: Well, this is actually the opposite of Facebook. It’s the antisocial network. It prevents piracy, right?
He also adopts the moniker “George Maharis” because he hates that both the names “George Michael” and “Boy George” are tainted by past acts of perversity. Little does he know that there was a George Maharis, a 1960’s actor who was arrested getting caught in the act in a gas station men’s room with another dude, named Perfect Telles. The connections are endless.
Anyway, the now-famous FakeBlock takes off, despite it not existing and George Maharis not being a real guy.
Maeby: Fakeblock: it’s exploding. I got my PR company fanning it. I even got it to the attention of Jim Cramer.
GM: Jim Cramer?
Maeby: He’s a guy I’ve worked with, and he even mentioned it on “Mad Money.”
Jim Cramer: This Fakeblock thing is poised to EXPLODE. I never do this, hell, it’s not even a stock yet. For all I know, it’s not even real! But I think this might be going through the roof! I’m calling it my first “Hypothetical Buy.”
See? The privacy industry is going to be HUGE. Even TV shows know it.
Then Maeby introduces a quivering George Michael to the cavernous new headquarters for his nonexistent privacy company, after which he fires her.
But not before she’d already pitched the idea to hungry investors:
Then in the season finale, “Blockheads,” George Michael decides to persist with the Fakeblock lie because he misinterprets a note from Anonymous, the hacker group, as one from Rebel Alley, his (and his father’s) quasi-girlfriend.
So he goes ahead with his speech about putting up the Fakeblock wall, which everyone else thinks is a reference to the wall between Mexico and the US, except perhaps Anonymous:
And what’s left unresolved is how George Michael is going to dig himself out of this colossal fake Fakeblock mess. Season 5 or an Arrested Development movie, perhaps? After the revival for season 4, anything is possible.
Bonus privacy reference: Buster as a drone operator who thinks he’s only playing a video game and isn’t killing real people. Ender’s Game, anyone?