Netflix’s Arrested Development Could Shake Up Format for Season 5

In addition to a huge investment in original content, Netflix has repeatedly salvaged shows canceled by other outlets. One of their earliest resurrections was Arrested Development, canceled by Fox in 2006 and granted new life by Netflix in 2013. Rumors have long swirled that Netflix might bring Arrested Development‘s dysfunctional Bluth family back for a fifth season at some point, but now new rumors suggest the show might get a serious shake up when that happens.

TVLine claims their sources are reporting that Arrested Development‘s fifth season will incorporate a major “prequel element” into its storylines. What does that mean, exactly? The show would be jumping on the “flashback” bandwagon and giving viewers a look at the Bluth family’s past — which is no doubt just as much a mess as their later adventures.

This wouldn’t be a minor narrative element, either. According to TVLine, the flashbacks could account for “potentially half the action” in the proposed fifth season. That’s all the more noteworthy because TVLine says the AD characters would be recast for those flashbacks. That suggests the flashbacks might be taking the Bluths back more than just a few years. While casting older actors as unconvincingly young characters has definitely been used for solid comedic effect in the past — Netflix’s own Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp springs to mind — there are limits to what you can get away with.

From a practical standpoint, padding the new season with flashbacks that don’t rely on having all the main cast on hand would make things a lot easier from a scheduling standpoint — and likely a lot cheaper, as well.

However, TVLine admits none of this has been confirmed by Netflix yet, and the plans are supposedly still haven’t been finalized as of yet. Either way, it would certainly be an interesting departure from the show’s past, and one likely to generate just as much fan controversy as season four.

All four seasons of Arrested Development are currently available streaming on Netflix Instant.