This is not your average adult cartoon series. Archer is not The Simpsons. The humor is way more offensive. It’s not even The Family Guy. Archer doesn’t rely on hilariously obscure references and cleverly spliced banter. Archer is not trying to be clever. It’s on the FX Network for goodness sake. South Park probably comes the closest (without equaling) the levels of crude, potty-mouthed language achieved in the animated series starring the voices of H. Scott Benjamin (also voices Bob from Bob’s Burgers, and Ben Katz from Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist), Aisha Tyler (credits include Friends, 24, and CSI), and Jessica Walter (most notably the matriarch of the Bluth clan on Arrested Development). But unlike South Park, the plot isn’t underscored by not so subtle commentaries on topical political issues or pop-culture memes. Which begs the question, why can’t we peel ourselves away from the TV during this show?
And here’s the answer. Archer takes the most adult, raunchy, filthy, potty-mouthed humor, shoves it inside the ridiculous 007 culture of Bond fame, transports it to a capitalist American “security-agency” for hire, and then adds some mommy issues. This cocktail is then shaken and served in gut-busting laughing fits that you’ll hate yourself for enjoying so much.
Again, the language they use requires a “this content is not suitable for children” warning after every commercial break. At times, it seems that the writers for this show simply made refrigerator magnets of every filthy word allowed on television, then arranged them into the best possible order, adding a few even filthier words which they will then bleep over half-heartedly.
Just look at the cast of characters. You have Dr. Krieger, the agency’s scientist whose sexual proclivities include, but are not limited to, the Japanese holo-lover he’s created for himself. Ray Gillette, a homosexual agent who has already lost and regained the use of his legs twice (three times?) in the series. Cheryl Tunt, a billionaire secretary who is as dimwitted as she is a drug addict. And last but not least, Pam Poovey, a hefty street-fighter turned office-worker, whose id has completely enveloped her super-ego. And these are not even the main characters!
Archer and his mother, along with the only competent person in the entire agency and Archer’s ex, Lana Kane, are the heart of this show. And this show needs a heart desperately. The dialogue (aka constant bickering) between these characters is so intimate and familiar, while at the same time crude and cutting, that it will make you feel like you’re at Thanksgiving dinner with your family. It reeks of authenticity. The barbs are just so perfectly tailored to their recipient, while the retorts come firing back at a Gilmore Girl-like pace. And since they’re family, all this raunchy horseplay is understandable. It is just like how your family lets your creepy uncle make all the cringe-worth statements he wants at family reunions, as long as he keeps his hands to himself.
Archer’s family owns a security agency. They all fight like children . . . incredibly disillusioned foul-mouthed children. And because they embody the absolute worst parts of our own families, we love them for it.
Just a preview of the type of hostile work environment we’re talking about: