RIP Jessica Walter: Cherish all her iconic moments as Lucille Bluth
Feels like 2021 thought we were getting a little too comfortable and needed some bad news. Jessica Walter, known to most of us as Arrested Development’s Lucille Bluth and Archer’s Malory Archer, has passed away. The award-winning actress passed on in her sleep, at the age of 80.
Jessica Walter leaves behind a distinguished career populated with outstanding performances in movies & TV. She received Emmy nominations for her performances in Trapper John M.D. and Streets of San Francisco, and that’s after already having won an Emmy for her starring role in the limited series Amy Prentiss.
Arrested Development, however, will always remain the ultimate Jessica Walter vehicle for most of her fans. Her Lucille Bluth was brutally, mercilessly funny and yet – dare we say it – pretty endearing as well. Let’s honor one of our favorite actresses by remembering some of her best moments as the Bluth matriarch. Here’s to you, Lucille One!
Detached from reality
“It’s one banana, Michael. What could it cost? Ten dollars?”
You can tell Lucille Bluth never went shopping. While we could argue that Lucille has a point – telling Michael to go easy on his brother Gob and let him have a free frozen banana – her hilarious estimation of how much that would cost is a classic Arrested Development moment.
“That goes into storage, right? Not into your apartment?”
That line is uttered as Hispanic movers are in the process of removing furniture from the Bluth house to make room for a remodel. Lucille Bluth’s racism is a running joke in the show, so of course she follows that up by asking Michael “What’s Spanish for ‘I know you speak English’?”
“They made me apply for a membership card. It was humiliating.”
When Michael tells Lucille to start shopping at Quantity Plus, her horror at the way she was treated at the warehouse-style grocery store is funny enough. But what elevates the gag to the next level is the brief flashback showing Lucille Bluth actually going through with the membership application and posing for a membership card photo. Adorable!
“You baited the balcony?”
Another running gag throughout Arrested Development’s run is the twisted relationship between Lucille Bluth and her youngest son, Buster. Michael’s dismay at finding out a mysteriously placed graham cracker had contributed to Buster being locked out of the house? Great. Lucille’s response when Michael accuses her of setting a trap for her youngest? Even greater.
“That’s how long I’ve been depressed about him.”
Speaking of Buster, we eventually learn that Lucille suffered from postpartum depression after giving birth to him. The joke? She never stopped taking her postpartum meds. When Michael points out it’s been thirty-two years, his mother’s sincere assessment of how she feels about Buster is pure Lucille Bluth.
Adding to the family
“Well, maybe I’ll get a son who will finish his cottage cheese!”
Talk about an impulsive adoption. When Lucille discovers she and George Sr. have adopted a Korean child, her first instinct is to assume her husband forged her signature. The truth turns out to be less shadier but just as reprehensible: Lucille signed the adoption papers a year ago, to punctuate her frustration with Buster’s picky eating habits. And that’s how we met Annyong.
“I’ll leave when I’m good and ready.”
The way this joke builds is a testament to how much Arrested Development could get away with. Irresponsibly, Gob buys a yacht he believes is called “The Seaward”, but ends up being called “The C-Word”. This leads to an argument between Michael & Gob, with the most responsible brother ordering Gob to “Get rid of The C-Word.” Lucille happens to walk in at that moment and calmly assumes they’re talking about her. Brilliant.
Breakfast of champions
“And a piece of toast.”
Lucille Bluth’s drink of choice is vodka, and we see her ordering vodka martinis & vodka rocks throughout the entire series, regardless of the time (except for her brief stint in rehab). When Michael points out she’s ordering vodka for breakfast, Lucille’s deadpan additional request is everything we’ve come to expect from the Bluth matriarch.
“Isn’t he the best?”
Few things fill Lucille Bluth with joy like any time private detective Gene Parmesan sneaks up on her and reveals he’s been wearing a disguise all along. It’s yet another running gag in the series, and one of its most amusing, as it reduces Lucille to a squealing, giggling fangirl every time – a very different persona from her usual self.
Almost every member of the Bluth family has their own interpretation of what a “chicken dance” is supposed to be – and none of them are remotely like anything a chicken would do. We finally get to witness Lucille’s version of the chicken dance during the second season of Arrested Development and it’s as ridiculous as we were hoping for.
Mom knows best
“It’s a hug, Michael. I’m hugging you.”
Look, we could list funny Lucille Bluth moments all day. But when it comes down to it, the best Lucille moment isn’t comedic. Toward the end of the first season of Arrested Development, Michael finds himself in deeper trouble than usual and has a bit of a meltdown in front of his usually-uncaring mother. Lucille surprises Michael by embracing him and telling him it’s all going to be okay.
Of course, in classic Lucille Bluth fashion, the end of the episode sees her ruthlessly taking over the company, since she now believes Michael doesn’t have what it takes to run it. What a mom. What a character. RIP, Jessica Walter. You were great.
Do you have any favorite Lucille Bluth moments we haven’t included in our list? Let us know in the comments!