Maeby has an equivocal name but an unequivocal nature. She is decisive and, seemingly, self-assured, able to waltz into a production company as a 16-year-old and not just pass as an adult but thrive as a producer. She’s secure in her identity, even if it’s a fake one. She’s not much of a Bluth, basically. The end of Season 3 revealed that she literally wasn’t a Bluth, either. Lindsay was adopted, so Maeby is not of the Bluth blood, though she was raised in a Bluthian way — she may have filled a hole in Tobias and Lindsay’s lives, but after she was born, they kept on filling it.
Maeby’s inability to distract her parents from their own self-involvement (Invisible Girl, anyone?) moves “Señoritis” along a parallel track to the main plots, and we get to know her insecurities a little better (she’s competitive with George Michael), but she’s still not so much a Bluth family member as she is a Bluth family hostage. As the narrator notes, “It’s easier to get into a Bluth home than it is to get out.”
We open with Maeby back in high school. It’s not a flashback; Maeby is 23 and still in high school, for reasons that will become clear later. She has a boyfriend, Perfecto, but is struggling through Donny Richter’s algebra class. She shows up to be tutored by a college student, who turns out to be George Michael: “Didn’t we graduate from high school together five years ago?”
Oh, that. Rewind!
Distraught about her parents’ self-absorption in the wake of the Queen Mary accident — she pretends to drown — she decides to see if they’ll notice her not graduating: “I’ve got two whole months to flunk.” They do not notice. She announces, “So for some reason they didn’t send me a cap and gown and I was going to make one out of sheets ” only to find that both Tobias and Lindsay have left home, leaving her (and her pictures) behind.
She attempts to find solace in her job, and throws herself into the fifth Gangie movie, “Gangie on the Ganges.” Of course, Tobias and Lindsay are in India, too. Maeby takes advantage of the horror makeup team on call (they did Real Housewives, too) and disguises herself as the Four Seasons shaman who redirected Lindsay’s story line.
They all return home, and back at the condo meeting, Maeby starts high school again, this time relocated to the ridiculous McMansion the family bought from Ed Helms’s real estate agent, James Carr. The physical emptiness echoes the family’s growing relationship divides, and soon enough Maeby is on the receiving end of competing voice mail messages from Tobias and Lindsay. They each want to be the first to say they’re leaving, and to bid her good luck in her life with the other parent (even though the separation is the other person’s fault). The widow Carr also lets her know the house is in foreclosure.
The bad news keeps coming: She’s fired from Imagine Entertainment (I could swear she worked at Tantamount) for not having a high school diploma. Blares Deadline Hollywood: “Toldja: Flunke Flunks Imagine: Non-Grad, Ron Mad.”
She decides to squat at the family condo and enters high school yet again. And again. “She became a senior for the third time, and then a fourth, and then it just sort of became what she did.” Her most recent yearbook quote: “Life is a roofie circle.” Been there, Maeby. Hell is other people in high school.
We rejoin our plotline in the present(ish). Visiting George Michael, Maeby becomes a part of the “pack first, no talking after scenario” that ends with Michael having to leave the dorm. She also learns about Fakeblock, which George Michael explains in tech jibberish that contains exactly two words Maeby (and the audience) can understand: “It’s privacy software that’s also anti-privacy.” His enthusiasm and the potential of the software cause her to “question the entirety of what she’d done with her life for the past several years.”
She goes to a bar to drown her sorrows and makes two important discoveries. First, she’s an excellent landlord, successfully renting out the Sudden Valley model home to the cops from To Entrap a Local Predator. Second, she espies Perfecto flashing his own badge. Richter had told her there was an undercover cop on campus! Feeling hurt and used, she decides to expose Perfecto. Is it a crime to enroll in high school if you’re over 21?
Barry Zuckerkorn knows this part of the law very well. It is, actually, illegal to go to high school if you’re over 21. “You can’t even lurk.”
Still pondering her options, Maeby returns to the condo (where Lindsay and Marky are also squatting). She’s looking for the Gangie 4 royalty check that Lindsay lifted but instead stumbles upon an invitation to be presented with an Opie lifetime achievement award. Just the thing for her bruised self-esteem! The narrator explains: “The only bigger honor would be to have an award like that named after you.” Very funny, Ron.
The Opies, as we already know, are taking place at the same hotel as the Herbert Love fund-raiser and Tony Wonder’s gay magic act, so we get to see some of the things we’ve already seen — this time from Maeby’s point of view. The important new pieces of information:
- Maeby delivers an expletive-laden acceptance speech (that’s why she’s chased through the scene where Gob tries to sabotage Tony’s act),
- She is mistaken for Lindsay’s pimp and decides to roll with that,
- She throws her lot in with the Fakeblock venture, even though George Michael insists the software isn’t ready to take it public,
- George Michael meets Rebel Alley and becomes “George Maharis.”
Things are starting to break in Maeby’s favor. She even gets a chance to succeed “in trapping [Perfecto] to become a predator,” as Perfecto has shown up at the Opies: “I’m just a huge fan of teenage stars.”
She gets him to admit that he’s part of a CIA sting to catch a rogue agent named “Esteves.” Also, he wants to meet Zack and Cody and the cast of Modern Family. He tells her, as far as the sting goes, “something may happen at Cinco.”
She succeeds in seducing Perfecto — who is Lucille 2’s adopted son! — and goes on pimping Lindsay and Fakeblock. Both ventures go well. Jim Cramer is so enthusiastic he suggests buying stock, once there is such a thing: “I’m calling it my first Hypothetical Buy.”
Maeby buys a huge space for the Fakeblock office — it “can hold over 500 nerds.” All of this is making George Michael incredibly nervous, especially because Maeby has a big unveiling of the product scheduled for Cinco de Cuatro.
The big day arrives and Maeby’s world starts to fall apart. She spots Herbert Love and his campaign manager giving Lindsay money directly: “He’s trying to snake the bottom bitch from my stable!” She convinces Perfecto to go after Love in some unspecified and off-camera way, but the Cinco blow-back begins immediately afterward. To make matters worse, Perfecto admits that he is, in fact, just 17 himself and not a cop.
The narrator intones that Maeby has a crisis of conscience. “And that’s when Maeby, who had spent so long lying to others and even herself, finally had to admit she had made a huge mis — ” Interrupts Maeby: “Oh, no, I’m fine.”
Told you she wasn’t much of a Bluth.
Things that put me in mind of seasons past:
- The Richter quintuplets are at it again
- The cops to whom Maeby rents the Sudden Valley home are the same gay (and hot?) cops from Season 2 who were hoping to adopt Maggie Lizer’s baby
- Jim Cramer got the family excited in the third season when he upgraded the Bluth company from “triple sell” to “don’t buy”
- Maeby is pretty sure she can get Lindsay to have sex with Herbert Love without payment, because this is the woman who wore a “slut” T-shirt to a prison
And seasons present:
- Maeby can’t find sheets because Tobias has garbed himself in them
- We get a quick callback to Tobias singing “It’s just a phallus-see!” and are reminded that it’s “from nothing.”
- The detailed examination of George Michael’s kissing technique can’t just be throw-away, can it?
- Roofie circle.
- When Maeby runs into Zuckerkorn, he’s carrying the stepladder we saw him buy and seems to be trying to get a view over a fence. He bemoans the cameras all around the school, even the ones in the bushes, “though you can’t see the locker room from there.”
- Maeby is the person who lets Cindy the ostrich out of the condo.
- She runs into former boss Mort Meyers (Jeff Garlin) at the Opies; he’s moved on, too.
- Coconut shrimp? Are those a thing?
- This kind of straddles the past/present line, but Maeby’s mispronunciation of “heiress” as “harris” reminds me of the apparently Bluth-culture-wide problem with hard and soft consonants (Gob)
- Maeby tips some black men, further proof that she’s not really a Bluth
- Steve Holt shows up to exterminate the model home, having a very bad birthday.
- Parm and mustard snacking, though to Maeby’s credit, she finds it disgusting and wonders why she’s eating it
- George Michael has never met Lucille Two? Really?
- Google is the search engine that must not be named
- After the credits, we see that Sally Sitwell might take over the campaign of a missing Lucille Two (which would make for a Lindsay-Sally race)
- Also “on the next Arrested Development,” Rocky Richter (the real undercover cop at Maeby’s school) slaps the cuffs on Maeby for statutory rape (as well as for being overage.)
- In the vein of Fakeblock being the “anti-social network,” there’s a few Social Network jabs, including Maeby’s advice, “Call it ‘The Fakeblock,’ it’s cleaner. Like ‘The Netflick.'”
- Rebel explains why she’s at the Opies: “Every time Bryce [Howard] gets pregnant, guess who gets a call.”
- The “Babies Having Babies” crew ushered out of the classroom before Maeby goes to tutoring echoes the fact that Arrested has an unseen documentary crew trailing characters as well.
Cameos: Garlin, Isla Fisher, Christine Taylor, Keri Russell voicing the “Widow Carr”