In Episode Six of Season Two of Arrested Development, Gob (Will Arnett), the self-absorbed eldest child in the Bluth family, becomes president of the family business after his father, George Sr., escapes from prison and his younger brother, Michael, is investigated for aiding and abetting George Sr.’s escape. An underemployed magician, presumably without C-suite-appropriate dress, Gob raids his father’s closet to look the part of a CEO, proudly explaining to Michael that he “finally got into dad’s pants,” though he “had to let the crotch out a bit” to make room.
Michael, however, is concerned that Gob may be alienating some of his coworkers with his new duds. That’s because Gob refuses to move boxes, pour coffee or hold the elevator due to the suit costing “more than you make in three months,” as he repeatedly points out. In fact, the suit’s alleged price tag grows throughout the episode, with each declaration punctuated by Gob’s trademark, “Come on!!”
“It’s a funny bit because the suit is so damn unremarkable,” says Jonas Bell Pasht, a men’s style aficionado. “For $6,000, you’d expect either a Tom Ford suit or something bespoke from Savile Row, which this is most clearly not.”
Still, Gob is obviously trying to make himself seem important in the eyes of Bluth Company employees. “Gob needs to be validated and loved, even though no one makes him feel that way,” explains Holly Dohner, the administrator of the Arrested Development Facebook fan page. “Success in the Bluth world equates to expensive things, and in Gob’s eyes, money equals being taken seriously. Unfortunately, no one really cares for Gob or takes him seriously — even in a $5,000 suit.”
“Gob doesn’t always love himself,” adds supervising producer Barbie Adler, a tinge of sympathy in her voice. “Just like anybody who overcompensates, bragging and boasting makes him feel successful and worthy of everything his younger brother Michael actually has. That’s what makes the character so great — and so fun to write.”
Reminiscent of Lucille, the Bluth family matriarch, obliviously thinking a banana costs $10, the suit bit’s creator, co-executive producer Jim Vallely, based the gag on the garish overspending of the entertainment executives he knew. “[Arrested Development creator] Mitch [Hurwitz] and I both had an agent who wore $5,000 suits, and it was absolutely infuriating,” Vallely tells me. “So when Gob finally gets his big chance to run the Bluth Company, he’s the proverbial dog who caught the car. Just like Gob’s stuttering fits when he gets insecure, the running gag of upping the price Gob paid for the suit was inspired by Mitch’s hatred of Hollywood’s expensive suit syndrome mixed with me smoking some superior sativa that night.”
Vallely says Arrested Development never had much of a budget, which is why it was “one of the ugliest shows on network television,” so he guesses that the suit couldn’t have cost anywhere near $6,000. If anything, he bets it was a loaner.
While Arnett wears the suit well, Pasht says the bargain-basement giveaway is how it sits on his shoulders. “It’s slightly too wide for his frame, which tells me this isn’t the work of Savile Row’s best tailors, who would never have allowed this.” At best, Pasht reasons, it could be something “entry-level,” between $500 and $1,000, or perhaps a low-level designer suit like Hugo Boss ($1,250).
For an exact price, I reached out to Katie Sparks, whose efforts on the first two seasons of the show earned her an award nomination from the Costume Designers Guild. Sparks echoes Vallely, explaining there was never a wardrobe budget, particularly given how many day players and flashbacks were involved, all of which required costume changes. “We were bursting at the seams to keep up,” she says, recalling racks of clothes filling production offices and multiple trailers in the parking lot. “The thing about costume design, especially for television, is it’s so fast. We got Arrested scripts only minutes before we shot the next show, so it was always about beating the clock.”
She doesn’t recall exactly where she got Gob’s suit, but if the script said he was wearing a $6,000 suit, she’d typically try to find one that looked expensive but fit into the show’s limited budget, often at Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus. That said, it couldn’t have cost more than $1,000 — and likely less. “I would’ve been fired if Will actually wore a $6,000 suit,” she says. “No one ever wore anything that expensive on Arrested Development.”