We all have our guilty pleasures, and one of mine is â€œArcher.â€ With its brilliant animations and a spot-on, snarky script, this show is ridiculous, raunchy, irreverent andâ€”letâ€™s be honestâ€”completely hilarious. As soon as the retro-styled, 007-esque opening credits start rolling, I know Iâ€™m about to get just about everything I want from a comedy. And (confession) I donâ€™t even like that many animated comedies; they tend to annoy me a bit. â€œArcher,â€ though, satisfies on so many different levels. The sixth season is currently in progress, and while I have yet to catch up, I think the show as a whole deserves some attention.
One of the things that makes â€œArcherâ€ so great is its unflinching willingness to satirize itself. The show knows itâ€™s nothing new: international spy organization sends agents all over the world, generally wreaking havoc as they accomplish their â€œmissions.â€ SO original, right? But the showâ€™s self-reflection makes it unique; with its group of incredibly screwed-up characters, â€œArcherâ€ satirizes the spy-show trope.
Sterling Archer, our main character, serves as a James Bond-type field agent. Heâ€™s just as suave, just as much a womanizer and an alcoholic as Bond, but the show doesnâ€™t even pretend that such flaws are OK. Instead, it brings them to the forefront, highlighting how incredibly messed up it is that such a guy wields such power.
Similarly, his mother Malory, in her capacity as head of the organization, is clearly a narcissistic megalomaniac who frequently uses her power to serve her own agendas.
These are only two of the showâ€™s range of equally messed up characters, all of whom facilitate an examination of how incredibly flawed people can be. With their presence, the show intentionally undermines the glamor of the standard spy story, making it a refreshing take on the genre.
Another aspect of the show that really draws me in is its constant playfulness. â€œArcherâ€ isnâ€™t afraid to be politically incorrect or more than slightly inappropriate, which is refreshing. The fifth season, â€œArcher Vice,â€ was especially delightful with its ironic take on the drug industry. I mean, Pamâ€™s transformation into a raving cocaine addict eating coke cupcakes made from the groupâ€™s stash was hilariously exaggeratedâ€”and thatâ€™s just one of many such moments. Itâ€™s that hyperbolic nature that makes the showâ€™s satire so effective; itâ€™s just so incredibly over-the-top that you canâ€™t take it seriously.
As a show, â€œArcherâ€ gives us the best of many worlds, and I think thatâ€™s what makes it so satisfying. For one thing, its animations are top-notch; plus, its animated nature somehow helps to satirize its own genre with a sort of stylized falseness. As a comedy, it walks the fine line between slapstick and sophistication; itâ€™s a smart comedy with intentionally stupid moments. And, finally, it still gives us everything we want from a spy show.
It may satirize itself, but there are still plenty of gun-slinging cliffhanger moments to satisfy those of us who may have a slightly unhealthy addiction to such things. So perhaps itâ€™s not such a guilty pleasure; thereâ€™s a lot to love about â€œArcher,â€ and itâ€™s not just about the laughs.