Introduced in the Season 1 episode “Shock and Aww” and subsequently forgotten about, Beth Baerly, played by Heather Graham, is George Michael’s (Michael Cera) ethics teacher. When George Michael develops a crush on her, Lindsay (Portia De Rossi) assumes his infatuation with her is actually a Freudian need for a mother figure, and she encourages Michael to ask Beth out so that she can fill that role. Michael does so, and the two of them go home together.
However, upon witnessing George Michael’s reaction to seeing Beth in the family’s model home the next morning, Michael realizes his son’s feelings and breaks up with Beth for George Michael’s sake. There’s a bit more back-and-forth between Michael and Beth, the latter of whom ultimately decides she wants no Bluth whatsoever, be it father or son.
An ethics teacher becoming mired in such murky ethical waters is a strong ironic premise for a character, so fans think it’s a shame that Beth Baerly appears in but a single episode — and it’s doubly disappointing that she gets no characterization. Instead, she essentially becomes a comedic prop, an inciting factor to propel the male characters’ stories. The flattening of Beth into a device that drives drama between men is a trope seen far too often with female characters, and a show as sharply written as “Arrested Development,” which featured some of television’s most iconic women, could have done far more with her.