For about 15 years American comedy lived in the age of Judd Apatow. The era began in 1999 with Freaks and Geeks, his short-lived high-school show that launched a cluster of younger actors toward stardom; it took off with the success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin in 2005; and it arguably finished up with the launch of Lena Dunham’s Girls, in 2012, an Apatow-produced show that took his formula and themes (sexual frankness, arrested development) in a darker and more radical direction.
In that span Apatow himself made only two and a half good movies — the triumphant Virgin, the overpraised Knocked
This article appears as “Arrested Development” in the July 6, 2020, print edition of National Review.
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