There's not long to wait before The Bluth family return to Netflix with the fifth season of the cult favourite set the debut on May 29. However, only eight of the sixteen episodes will be available to binge watch as Netflix is splitting the series into two halves. Arrested Development is the latest Netflix original following the fourth and final run of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Ranch to deviate from the tried and tested all at once release method the streaming giant favours.
I doubt it's a coincidence that both Kimmy and Arrested Development are debuting their part one of the respective new seasons just in time to make the Emmy Consideration list. By dividing the new episodes, both shows get double the chance at bagging an award. Netflix has had to work very hard to be taken seriously as a legitimate producer of award-worthy TV shows, so the decision makes sense on a business level. That said, as a consumer and fan of both shows, it's ruddy frustrating that binge-watching every episode in one glorious sitting is off the table.
Releasing episodes in two blocks is the latest bold move from Netflix in recent months. Following another dispute over eligibility with the Cannes Film Festival, Netflix is investigating the possibility of launching a cinema chain of their own. Many filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg have been vocal about the Netflix model of movie distribution and "token qualifications in a couple of theatres for less than a week" shouldn't "qualify for the Academy Award nomination.” Owning a chain of cinemas would circumvent many of the issues surrounding Oscar eligibility, but it could be a move that further alienates Netflix from the rest of Hollywood. Considering Netflix prides itself on being a disrupter to the old way of making and releasing its content, further alienation is unlikely to pose a problem.
The first eight episodes of Arrested Development season five will land on Netflix May 29, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt beams the first six instalments of its final season on May 30.