Pinning down a favorite thing about Arrested Development is no easy matter; it’s a testament to the show that, if asked for my favorite moment or character, I might come up with a different answer every day of a given week. However, I don’t know if I find anything on the show quite as uncomfortably satisfying as the show’s hilarious mistreatment of George-Michael’s somewhat dumpy, definitely dowdy, very religious girlfriend, Ann Veal (Mae Whitman), who’s come to be inextricably associated with a single word of disbelieving disdain. Catching some reruns a couple months ago, I realized I had forgotten just how many instances of “Her?” and other forms of Ann-abuse occurred on the show; accordingly, I decided to do a rewatch (at least of Season Two, where Ann first appears) and catalogue those many instances, made all the more hysterical by the fact that she’s unaware of at least ninety percent of them, for my own but also hopefully your enjoyment. (I found video clips for some of these, but I’m keeping the full transcripts in case they disappear.) Before we’re even introduced to the character, Maeby sets the stage in the second-season premiere:
Maeby: So, you’re really leaving, huh? Have you told your girlfriend Bland…I mean, Ann?
George-Michael: She’s not my girlfriend. And she’s not bland.
Maeby: Really? Because, I mean, under her school picture it said “not pictured.”
George-Michael: Okay, they printed a retraction in the spring supplement.
In the second episode, in discussing an upcoming ribbon-cutting ceremony, we’re introduced not only to Ann but to the twin running jokes of Michael not remembering that he’s met her and continually getting her name wrong:
George-Michael: Hey, can I bring Ann?
Michael: [short pause] Who?
George-Michael: Ann. You know…she’s the girl I’m kinda hanging out with.
Michael: I haven’t met Ann.
George-Michael: Yes you have.
Narrator: Michael had met Ann.
George-Michael: You let her in. [Uncomprehending look from Michael.] That’s her right over there.
[George-Michael steps to the side, allowing Michael to see Ann sitting at a table in another room.]
Michael: Oh, Ann! Yes yes yes yes yes, I know Ann. Hey you! She’s got a little hard-boiled egg going there.
George-Michael: Oh, it’s so cute. She sometimes takes a little pack of mayonnaise, and she’ll squirt it in her mouth [imitates], and then she’ll take an egg, and she’ll [imitates her popping the egg in her mouth and mixing the two as Michael looks queasy]. She calls it a mayon-egg. [Total horrified look from Michael] Are you okay?
Michael: I don’t feel so good.
George-Michael: You know, I kinda want to buy her a diamond.
Michael: [pause] Her?
George-Michael: Ann. I mean, I know I can’t afford it, but Aunt Lindsay was telling me about this diamond cream…
Michael: George-Michael, I’m sure that Egg is a very nice person, I just don’t want you spendin’ all your money…
Michael [not hearing him]: …gettin’ her all glittered up for Easter, you know?
The next day, after the ribbon-cutting ceremony predictably went to hell, Michael and Gob are reading an account in the newspaper:
Michael: Nobody looks good in this.
Gob: Especially that little dude.
Michael: That’s Ann.
(Start at 0:24 in the following clip.)
If you missed it, Ann had her hair in pigtails in the quick shot you saw of her at the ceremony, which makes the thought that Gob could think she’s a boy even funnier. And it also is a subtle example of FORESHADOWING (probably not, but it’s hilarious to think so), because Episode 3 brings us to my buddy Joe Reid‘s favorite instance of Ann-abuse. First, the setup, when Michael asks George-Michael to do something:
George-Michael: Oh, I can’t, I’m meeting Ann.
Michael shakes his head uncomprehendingly.
George-Michael: Here, you took this picture of us in front of that bagel place before it was burned down.
Michael: [looking at photo] I guess I thought she was with another family.
George-Michael: She’s kinda my girlfriend.
Michael: [long pause] Her?
George-Michael: Do you not like her?
Michael: I don’t know her. It’s like you spend all your time with her. It’s like you’re hogging her, like you’re a little Ann hog. Okay? Don’t be such an Ann hog. (Captured in the first bit of this next clip.)
And then the punchline, after Michael and George-Michael have planned to drive down to Mexico:
Michael: Let’s go down to Mexico.
George-Michael: All right, let me grab Ann real quick.
Michael: Ann’s here?
George-Michael: Yeah, I invited her. You said you wanted to spend some time with her. You said I was being an Ann hog.
Michael [frustrated]: Ann-hog’s comin’? I mean, I thought it was just gonna…
George-Michael: Just Ann.
Michael [not hearing]: …be like, the two of us.
But that joke isn’t done; in the car, Lindsay sees Ice, the private detective on whom she has a crush, on a motorcycle in the rear-view mirror (I’d say start at 0:18 in the clip, but really you should just watch the whole thing):
Lindsay: Hey, check out who’s on that hog in the rear-view mirror.
Michael [thinking she’s referring to Ann]: GEORGE-MICHAEL!
Michael: [pause, then fake-sunnily] Twenty miles to Legoland!
That one KILLS me. Hee. In Mexico, after some classic miscommunication, Ann gets left behind; later, after the error is realized, Michael and George-Michael head back. Getting out of the car, Michael rushes up to some random girl:
Michael: Ann, oh thank God you’re all right!
Ann: Mr. Bluth?
Michael: [to the real Ann] Ann, oh thank God you’re all right! You are Ann, right?…Yes, of course you are.
Soon after, Michael is explaining to Ice why he left the country:
Michael: I’m just here to pick up my son’s girlfriend! She ran off the last time we were leaving.
Ann: Actually, I was sitting right there the whole time.
George-Michael: Yeah? Way to plant, Ann!
Michael: George-Michael, listen, why don’t you and Plant just wait in the stair car.
After the two of them oblige, Gob sees Ann for what he thinks is the first time:
Gob: Who’s that? That’s his girlfriend?
Gob: What, is she funny or something?
Gob and Michael then have a talk about how Michael is concerned about George-Michael growing up. Gob suggests Michael get to know Ann, so Michael rides back with her. The next day, at the office, Michael is on the phone with George-Michael chatting about Ann, which Gob overhears.
Gob: Wow, you really got to know her.
Michael [smiling]: Well, we did spend three hours together in that car ride.
Gob: So what’d you think?
Michael: [losing the smile]: I don’t like her.
It’s of course hilarious that Michael, who at least thinks he always tries to do the right thing, would have such a full-blown dislike for an unremarkable kid, and in Episode 4, he keeps intruding on their relationship, frustrating Ann:
Michael: [via the phone] Hey buddy, they found your grandfather. That’s what I wanted to tell you.
George-Michael: That’s great.
Michael: I didn’t want to say that when you were talking to Egg.
George-Michael: I’m actually still talking with Ann.
Michael: Oh, she’s still goin’, huh? All right great, listen, I’ll talk to you later.
Ann: [after they disconnect]: I think we should break up.
As you see, George-Michael bawls at this news, but later, he puts on a brave face and lies to Michael that he’s the one that broke up with Ann. Michael is happy, but later, when he catches George-Michael bringing a tray of eggs up to the attic, he erroneously concludes that George-Michael is hiding Ann up there in order to avoid his disapproval, and feels bad, so he decides to atone by inviting Ann to a wake at their house. (As you do.) Ann turns up as George-Michael and George Sr., the real attic refugee whom everyone else thinks is dead, hence the wake, watch (start clip at 1:21):
George-Michael: Oh my God, that’s Ann.
George Sr.: Who?
George-Michael: It’s the girl who ripped my heart out. The girl whose face will always be etched in my mind.
George Sr.: Her?
George-Michael [defensively]: She’s really funny.
George Sr.: Well, let’s hope so.
Meanwhile, Michael greets Ann:
Michael: Hey, Ann! You’re here, that’s great! I wasn’t sure whether you got my message.
Ann: It wasn’t a message. We talked.
Michael assures the two that they belong together. After Ann leaves them:
George-Michael: You think we really do?
Michael: A father can tell, okay? It’s as Ann as the nose on Plain’s face.
George-Michael comes clean about Ann dumping him, but adds that she took him back because of what Michael said. So in Episode 5, Michael has learned his lesson about tempering his dislike of Ann:
George-Michael: It was weird; I studied with Ann, but I still got a B-minus.
Michael: Ann got you a B-minus.
George-Michael: Well, it wasn’t Ann. She’s an expert in math. Isn’t that cute?
Michael: Is it?
To back up George-Michael’s claim, we see an insert of Ann’s yearbook entry:
Name: Ann Paul Veal (not pictured) [obviously pictured]
Activities: Math Club
Quote: “Were we supposed to have a quote?”
Note, of course, the awesome detail that Ann had apparently gotten the nickname “Egg” before coming into the Bluths’ life. Hee. Anyway, George-Michael explains that he got flustered on the test and ended up picking answers that were like, his fifth choice.
Michael: George-Michael, never settle for fifth choice. Something better is gonna come along. [pause] She just has to.
George-Michael: I think maybe sitting in the back of the class with Ann is a bad idea. You know, she’s just so pretty. I get distracted, I guess.
Michael: Do you?
George-Michael [wistfully]: I wish I could draw her nose.
Michael [gaze narrowing]: Maybe it’s your eyes.
George-Michael’s smile fades.
Michael: Maybe you need glasses!…For your grades!
Despite George-Michael’s usual hilarious uncertainty, Michael steamrolls him. It’s so uncomfortable and yet so hilarious to see how much George-Michael continues to want Michael to like Ann and how unrelentingly Michael refuses to comply. By the way, the eye exam, although barely Ann-adjacent, is so good that since I found a clip I have to include it:
In Episode 6, Michael brings up going to the office Christmas party:
George-Michael: No I can’t. I was supposed to go to Ann’s parents’ Christmas party. We’re makin’ yams.
Michael: Tonight? Tonight is the office party.
George-Michael: Well, did you want me to go to that? You’re always telling me not to have fun at those things.
Michael: Yes! We might even snatch a gift from the charity barrel. [winks cheesily]
George-Michael [uncomfortable]: Oh. Okay, well—well, I think Ann’s parents are having their party on Bethlehem time, which is pretty early. So maybe I can make an appearance.
Michael: Make an appearance. Uh…uh…No, no, it’s okay. You be with Yam. It’s fine. It’s good.
George-Michael: It’s Ann.
Michael [ignoring]: It’s good. It’s fun.
There’s also a throwaway moment where you see Ann singing Jesus hymns in this exaggerated deep voice, which cracks me up to no end. In Episode 7, Michael is worried about a company softball game; George-Michael asks if they need girls on the softball team, and Michael confirms that.
George-Michael: Well, you know who would be great and not at all litigious is Ann.
Michael: Not Ann. ‘Cause you know this – this game is kind of our thing.
George-Michael: But Ann’s amazing. You know, she could play my position.
Michael: You should be playing the field…there, in right, you know? Plus I got Aunt Lindsay playing this year; I can’t very well pull her off the roster! Let’s make Ann the backup, okay? Very good way to think about her. As a backup.
George-Michael: She’s gonna be so excited.
George-Michael: Maybe – maybe now I’ll get a kiss.
Michael: Okay. [kisses George-Michael on the cheek]
George-Michael: [hilariously interminable awkward pause] I meant from Ann.
Michael: Yes, I know. I just want to get in there first.
George-Michael: [another delicious pause, then whispers] Okay.
It’s SO cringe-worthy. Hee. Later:
Michael: Okay, looks like I’m gonna need that female backup player after all. And Ann’s really good at softball, huh?
George-Michael: Yeah. She’s amazing. You know, she’s got this low center of gravity. You can’t knock her over.
Michael: Well, I could knock her over.
George-Michael: Dad, I’m telling you, you can’t. They call her The Wall, you know?
Michael: Well, that’s great. But I could knock her over. I won’t, but I could.
It’s SO wrong. Hee. Ann takes an episode off in 2-8, but in 2-9, George-Michael asks Michael if he needs his vinyl copy of Peter and the Wolf, and Michael says he can have it.
George-Michael: My girlfriend Ann wants to have a Christian music bonfire here.
Michael: That sounds like some mild fun. I think we’ve got some Christmas music.
George-Michael: Oh, no, no. It’s not a “Christian music” [finger-quotes George-Michael’s] bonfire, it’s a Christian “music bonfire.” You know, we burn all Satanic music. The thing is, though, the only music I have is either instructional or humor.
The Narrator lets us know that George-Michael loves The Jerky Boys (for which I adore him), and we see him pranking Michael, very incompetently. George-Michael then says he’s going to burn some music to support Ann, since she’s his girlfriend. Maeby, however, turns it into a CD-burning party (i.e., with computers instead of cleansing, righteous fire), and when Ann gets upset, George-Michael tells her about the Jerky Boys (“it’s kind of old-school”); they end up pranking Michael, again horribly, and then kissing. It’s almost as awkward as Michael kissing George-Michael, but not quite. After the kiss, Ann’s again absent in Episode 10, but in Episode 11, George-Michael is discussing Michael’s feelings for Sally Sitwell:
George-Michael: We could double-date! You and Sally, and me and Ann…
Michael: Yes. Yes. Of course I know Ann. Yeah, see, I didn’t mean “who,” I meant…Her? That’s a great idea. I love Ann.
George-Michael: (smiling) Great.
Michael leaves, and bumps into Ann.
Michael: Excuse me, ma’am.
You could say that it’s getting ridiculous that Michael still wouldn’t recognize Ann, and I would NOT CARE. There’s no more stuff at Ann’s expense in this episode, really, but it’s still pretty awesome: Ann lectures George-Michael on not working and not being in church; in response, George-Michael assures her he’s fine with living a life of no fun, but Ann storms off. Maeby, sick of watching this, decides to get them broken up, and gets the idea to introduce Ann to her grandmother so she’ll criticize her, but Lucille is too distracted about Buster joining the Army to oblige. Then Ann tells her about the power of prayer, and she’s so vulnerable she succumbs to her. It’s pretty great. In Episode 12, this is referenced:
Michael: Hey George-Michael, you alone?
George-Michael: Almost always. Maeby’s never around anymore, and Ann’s off with her religious group trying to get Nip/Tuck taken off the air.
Michael: They don’t like Nip/Tuck?
George-Michael: Well, you know, they don’t like anything. Something about how God wants people to age naturally, I don’t know. Ironically, she likes Gangy.
Also awesomely, George-Michael gets a bit of revenge when Michael confesses he’s back with Maggie Lizer, as he gets to respond, “Her?” Hee. In Episode 13, there’s only one quick Ann reference:
Maeby: So you and Ann are actually going on a Christian camping trip?
George-Michael: It’s called the Promised Land. You’re supposed to make promises about your relationship as a tribute to the generations that preceded you.
Michael doesn’t actually let George-Michael go, and he’s still down on Ann in Episode 14:
Michael: He’s such a great kid and everybody loves him. He’s George-Michael! Truthfully, that’s why I’m not crazy about that Ann, but he’ll move on.
Gob: Unless he knocks her up like you did with his mother. Plus she’s religious! That one gets pregnant, it stays pregnant. Believe me, I dated a chick like that once in high school. [pause] No I didn’t.
Michael: I gotta work on that boy’s self-esteem.
Intent on this idea, Michael goes to George-Michael’s room, only to hear this through the door:
Ann: George-Michael, I want you to do it.
George-Michael: I don’t think I’m ready.
Ann: Of course you are!
George-Michael: I’m gonna lose it before I start.
Michael bursts in and yells “Don’t start!” only to see the two of them with church pamphlets. He continues, “Smoking! It’s a killer. That Sammy Davis Jr. should still be performing. What’s going on?”
George-Michael: Ann thinks I should run for student-body president.
Michael: That’s a great idea!
George-Michael: Well I don’t have a chance. I mean, they only vote for the cool kids.
Ann: But everyone loves you.
Michael: You are George-Michael! Who’s cooler than you?
It’s at this point we get the AWESOME clip of George-Michael’s spastic “lightsaber” moves. Hee.
Michael: Plus, you would be following in your old man’s footsteps.
Ann: You were student-body president?
Michael: Oh ho. It was close.
Ann: So you lost.
Michael: Who remembers.
Ann: I know I would remember.
George-Michael: Ann, if my dad says that he won, then he won.
Michael: Didn’t say I won. Said I can’t remember. But now that we’re thinking about it, I seem to remember the other guy won the actual title, although there were plenty in the school who wanted to overturn the decision. I said, Let’s – Do not – Let’s not put the school through that. Haven’t thought about that for years. Good memory.
Ann: Well anyway, I’ll help you run your campaign and make your commercial for election day.
Michael: Well, that’s great. The important thing is to raise the old self-esteem and not to rush a physical relationship. Those are really the two important things.
Ann: No, we’re both waiting.
Ann: And then that first time, after waiting and waiting, it’s gonna be so awesome, because it’s not just gonna be my love and George-Michael’s, but God’s love as well. God, it’s gonna be incredible.
George-Michael: All right, I’ll do it. I’m in.
George-Michael: I’m pumped.
Michael, thinking George-Michael needs the help, brings Gob in for some dirty tactics, which causes Ann to bail righteously. After the usual series of miscues, though, the entire school sees a tape of George-Michael’s lightsaber moves (including a young Armie Hammer, who’s the guy that addresses George-Michael as “Star Dork”), and Ann takes George-Michael back, finding the lightsaber moves attractive, which makes an AMAZING amount of sense.
George-Michael, to Ann: You really make me feel good about myself.
Michael: Gotta do something about that kid’s self-esteem.
In Episode 15, we get our introduction to Franklin, Gob’s puppet of color:
George-Michael: Is Franklin going to be there?
Gob: Kids love Frankin.
George-Michael: I just don’t want him to point out my cracker ass in front of Ann. [He leaves.]
Gob: Imagine what he’d say about her.
In Episode 16, we flash back to George-Michael, in his room, telling Lindsay he’s thinking of asking Ann to get pre-engaged, prompting George Sr. to reply via the vent: “Her?” In the present, Michael then says it’s the first he’s heard of the pre-engagement, prompting Lindsey to ask who said “Her?” from the vent. Michael, covering for his father: “Me. That was, that was me. But, um…her?” Lindsay thinks it’s romantic, but Michael wants to talk to George-Michael and says he doesn’t like Ann. Lindsay, however, says he’s making a mistake:
Lindsay: Maybe if you’d stop judging her, he’d trust you! If you say no, you’re just going to drive him right to her.
George-Michael, appearing: Hey, dad! Can you drive me to Ann’s?
George-Michael goes to wait in the car:
Michael: I don’t think that worked.
In the attic, George Sr. surprises Gob and explains that he came back because of Lucille taking up with Oscar.
George Sr.: I need to recommit myself to your mother.
Michael and George-Michael show up to the Veals, where Michael meets her parents, Pastor Terry Veal (Alan Tudyk) and unnamed mother (Ione Skye), who’s hot and young, causing Michael to express surprise.
Mrs. Veal: Next you’re gonna say how Ann and I could be sisters.
Michael: No, I’d never say that.
Michael then tells them about the pre-engagement, and they’re of course, to his dismay, thrilled, so Michael comes up with the scheme of introducing them to his horrible family, even getting Gob to have Franklin there as the icing on the offensive cake. At the party, George-Michael tells Michael that Ann and family were going to a pre-dawn Mass and then regular Mass.
Michael: Ann’s got a great deal of mass.
Not his or the show’s best line, but his unrelenting, puerile disdain for her continues to kill. He’s saying this to his son, who worships him! It’s so awful I can’t stop laughing! Anyway, everything goes to hell: Lindsay spills the beans to George-Michael about Michael’s plan to sabotage his relationship with Ann, and then George-Michael sees Mrs. Veal throw herself at Michael, so George-Michael decides to get pre-engaged to spite his dad. When the dust settles, Michael doesn’t know where George-Michael went:
Maeby: I just saw them drive off. They were gonna go look for Bland. [Referring to Mrs. Veal] Who’s the hottie?
Michael: This is Ann’s mother.
At the church, Ann overhears George Sr. and Lucille renewing their wedding vows and gets all hot, and then when George-Michael finds her, Ann proposes that they get married for real. Things fall apart again, but at the end, Michael tells George-Michael that when he’s ready, he should go all the way with it. When he’s gone:
Ann: Sounds like your father just gave us permission to start Doing It! Teach me, George-Michael! You must teach me the ways of the secular flesh!
Of course George-Michael, who was just hoping to get another kiss on the lips out of this whole bargain, is in over his head here, so he’s probably relieved when Ann is out of town in Episode 17 (which despite her absence is one of my favorite episodes of the series). It’s Spring Break, and George-Michael and Maeby are working at the banana stand:
George-Michael: You know my girlfriend Ann, she’s out of town. She’s actually kind of lucky, because all these guys would be coming on to her.
Maeby: Yeah, you really dodged a bullet there.
At the end George-Michael leaves a message for Ann saying that they need to talk, since he’s fallen for Maeby again. (He leaves that last bit out.) In the season finale, George-Michael, casting about for a way to dump Ann, brings up the brilliantly-titled film Les Cousins Dangereux, but before he can get any further in his explanation, she tells him she wants to get the church group to go picket it, which gets her all hot again, so George-Michael goes along with the idea. After a flashback to Marc Cherry’s house in which he yells “It’s a satire!” to the picketers outside his window in reference to Desperate Housewives, there’s this (I don’t feel like transcribing anymore; just watch):
Later, Lindsay tells George-Michael he needs to grab love, and George-Michael and Maeby make out, ending the season. Although Ann makes a couple appearances in S3, I’m going to wrap it up here, as her best stuff is in S2 and also I trust you’ve gotten the idea by now. But I don’t think there will ever come a day when I don’t associate the question “Her?” with Ann Veal. And that is a very good thing.