If you’re watching Arrested Development Season 5 Part 2 and are a little confused about the Trump and Hillary comments, there’s actually an easy explanation. Season 5 takes place in 2015, shortly after Donald Trump was running for President. No, the season doesn’t take place in 2019. (This post only has very minor spoilers for Season 5 Part 2.)
At one point during Season 5 Part 2, we’re told explicitly that it’s 2015. That’s fodder for quite a few jokes that will pop up during the second half of the season. At one point, Lucille refers to Hillary as “Shrillery” and laughs with delight about the idea.
The building of the Bluth wall is also a fun point to contrast to Trump’s desire to build a wall today and his frequently voiced comments about it during the campaign. The Bluths even comment that since Clinton is obviously going to win the election, there’s no way the President will be trying to build a wall herself.
We’re explicitly told it’s 2015 in Episode 13, when the narrator talks about how Buster is turned into every popular meme of 2015. In fact, that scene is a nice nostalgic trip down memory lane, as we revisit some popular memes from 2015 that are almost never used today. The juxtaposition of Buster’s face on those memes is a great touch.
In Season 5 Part 1, Lucille had a moment of being annoyed that Trump was stealing her best ideas while running for President. So knowing the show is set in 2015 isn’t new for the second half of Season 5.
Also in Season 5 Part 1, George Michael thinks about someone who died that year and verbally curses 2015, which told fans again what year the show was taking place.
In fact, at one point in Season 5 Part 1, Ron Howard said as the narrator: “Remember, this was in 2015, and many of the offensive comments almost seem quaint by today’s standards.”
So we definitively know that Season 5 of the show is taking place in 2015.