The Tao of Lucille Bluth
27th March 2021

Jessica Walter shone in every role she took on, from Malory Archer on Archer to the mom on Dinosaurs. But if one gig forever endeared her to audiences, it was her turn as Lucille Bluth on the Ron Howard–narrated cult favorite, Arrested Development.

Lucille was the scary mom you never had. She was mean and usually drunk, and sure, she might drug you and frame you as the driver after she wrecks the family car, but she was also there during tough times, to squeeze you with her body when you needed a mother’s embrace. For more than 80 episodes, she was an anchor of the dysfunctional Bluth family. Viewers saw Lucille’s endless struggles, losing her (lightly) treasonous husband to prison, managing her codependent relationship with her man-child son Buster, and striving at every turn to one-up her rival socialite Lucille Austero, vicious one-liners and backhanded compliments always at the ready. But we also watched Lucille grow; she learned to revel in her solitude with her husband and children out of the house. If Lucille could be preserved forever in a happy moment, she’d be home alone at Balboa Towers in her silk robe, popping party balloons with a lit cigar and eating leftover cake with her fingers, screaming the lyrics to “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy: “Mama’s all alone/ Mama doesn’t care/ Mama’s lettin’ loose.” Good for her. 

As fans mourn Walter’s passing, here are some of Lucille’s most enduring quips, barbs, and well-timed retorts, which only she could pull off.

 

On economics:

“I mean it’s one banana Michael, what could it cost, $10?”

 

On lunch choices: 

“I’ll have the ‘Ike and Tina tuna.’”

Waiter: “Plate or platter?”

“I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.”

 

On conserving fluids: 

“I wanna cry so bad but I don’t think I can spare the moisture.”

 

On taking care of children:

“Here’s some money. Go see a Star War.”

 

On hospitals: 

“I’ll be in the hospital bar.”

Michael: “Uh, you know there isn’t a hospital bar, mother.”

“Well, this is why people hate hospitals.”

 

On a boat full of gay protesters: 

“Everything they do is so dramatic and flamboyant, it just makes me wanna set myself on fire.”

 

On geography: 

“Well I’d rather be dead in California than alive and in Arizona.”

 

On balanced meals:

“Get me a vodka rocks.”

Michael: “Mom, it’s breakfast.”

“And a piece of toast.”

 

On daughters: 

“She thinks I’m too critical. That’s another fault of hers.”

 

On sons: 

“Suddenly he’s too much of a big shot to brush Mother’s hair.”

 

On other sons: 

“She’d love to get at me any way she could. That’s why she’s been flirting with Gob. She’s trying to prove that she’s closer to my children than I am, but the joke’s on her, because she doesn’t know how little I care for Gob”

 

On children in general:

“I love all my children equally.”

Earlier that day: “I don’t care for Gob.”

 

On boundaries: 

Buster: “Yes I was flying, but a little too close to the sun.”

“You let him go in the sun?”

 

On distractions:

“I know it’s a bird, I’m on the phone.”

 

On home security:

(Holding her rape horn in one hand and a fireplace poker in the other) “But I have a surprise for whoever it is if he comes back. First I blow him, then I poke him.”

Michael: “Guy has no idea what he’s in for.”

 

On arraignments: 

Barry: “It would help if you all showed up, looking like a loving, supportive family.”

“For how long?”

Barry: “Ten minutes, tops.”

“See if you can get it down to five.”

 

On education:

“Suddenly playing with yourself is a scholarly pursuit.”

 

On self esteem:

“He’s a beautiful boy. They don’t appreciate him. It’s his glasses. They make him look like a lizard. Plus he’s self-conscious.”

 

On exits:

Michael: “Get rid of the Seaward.”

“I’ll leave when I’m good and ready.”

 

On blocking out the haters:

“If that’s a veiled criticism about me, I won’t hear it and I won’t respond to it.”

 

On family ties:

“We may pick on each other, get into little scrapes, call each other names and occasionally steal from each other, but that’s because we are family.”

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