What Makes “Archer” So Good?

Every now and then I get asked if I watch television shows in between all the various movies that I view. While I don’t love television and will often get bored with many shows after a season or two, there are a handful of shows that I really enjoy. I love watching “Breaking Bad” any chance I get and think “Game of Thrones” has the same entertainment and production value as most quality fantasy films. I will choose to watch a movie over a television show when given the option and most shows I watch are anthologies like “Black Mirror,” but there are always exceptions. While the two shows I named above are my two favorites, I will always hold a special place in my heart for “Archer.”

Everything about “Archer” is so perfect to me. The running gags, brilliant premise, amazing voice cast and outrageous situations combine everything you could ever want for a James Bond comedy spin-off. The show never takes itself too seriously, much like the titular character, and it’s the better off for it. It is definitely an acquired sense of humor that most people would equate with being geared at 16-28 year old males, but I think there are moments that most people could relate to and find amusing.

The show started off being about the adventures of Archer and the other employees at the spy agency ISIS. Naturally, no mission ever went how it was intended, leading to a variety of amusing situations. But after season 4 the creators realized that their material was in danger of running dry. So for season 5 they decided to change things up and have them be drug dealers for a season. When they realized that they were selling cocaine for the CIA, they ended up being CIA contractors for a season until that came crashing down in a blaze of glory. When we last saw Archer, he and his colleagues were working as private detectives in a Chinatown style situation.

It is amazing to see how a simple spy show has been able to develop their running jokes, character’s personalities, and plot over the course of seven years, and this year sees them excelling even more. Archer finds himself in a coma at the beginning of this season, so the creators decided that they would take advantage to place the characters in a 1940’s LA Noir Dreamland setting. Again, Adam Reed and the rest of the “Archer” writing team manage to change the scenery to keep things interesting and prove that they can place this group of characters in any situation and have it work out for them.

None of the comedy is lost in this new season after the premiere. All the beloved characters are still in the story. But most importantly, the noir style is executed rather well for a series that was initially meant to be a spy show. The versatility of the past four seasons has proven that “Archer” has a talent that few other shows have: it can keep the same characters while constantly changing the situations each season to keep things interesting. It’s become a sort of anthology in a way and it guarantees that the show will never become stale, as each season from here on out will continue to be interesting and engaging with each change of setting. And there’s no reason to doubt that Adam Reed and his writing team won’t be able to choose any theme and have it work for their characters.

They could go futuristic like “Blade Runner”/“Minority Report,” turn the show into a heist series like “Ocean’s Eleven,” or go back in time even further to the bootlegging era and it would still be a success. No other show on television can succeed as a regular sitcom while also being an episodic anthology in its own right. That’s something that other shows could learn a lot from, but I don’t ever see a series pulling this off as well as “Archer.” “Archer” may not have the quality as some shows like “Breaking Bad” or “The Sopranos,” but I would still consider it one of my favorite shows for its undeniably successful adaptability.


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