#telosvision: archer – bond for feminists?
#telosvision: love it or just watch it anyway TV is arguably today’s central cultural medium and marker. in terms of shaping our shared experience and mediating the conscience collective televisual trends tends ends end en n and so on. you might say that charting the emerging geography of the small screen is like looking into a cultural crystal ball – and many experts do. so.
at RQT we’re beginning our critically engaged map of the box in a small corner called Archer. produced for Fox’s FX channel and premiering in january of this year the first season’s ten episodes open to us the hidden doors of ISIS (the International Secret Intelligence Service). located above a mid-town laundromat (“wash’n’fold…technically”) ISIS is a small intelligence agency sporting the most highly trained and most ninjaist operatives who are also a sorry bunch of total douche bags.
Douche-baggery not withstanding the collection of rag-tag incompetents soaks and sexual misfits that make up the ISIS staff are really as endearing a clutch of chumps as you will ever know (and you will know lots of chumps – i can guarantee that).
Code-named ‘Dutchess’, Sterling Malory Archer – son of former field agent and persistent sex-hound ISIS director Malory Archer and the Archer of Archer (the title) – is essentially your classic emotionally stunted gun-toting butler-needing lacrosse-playing rich mummy’s boy field agent. but more annoying than that. be careful though because like all ISIS agents he is highly skilled in Krav Maga – “Karate? Karate is the Dane Cook of martial arts”. his instincts are to be suave and wry but he’s much better at being crass and never being able to come up with witty retorts quickly enough. he’s essentially an obnoxious pig-headed misogynistic…wait i totally had something for this… Lana Kane [...douche.] is a fast-talking tactical weapons expert with a short dress and breasts which stick out as much sidewards as they do frontwards. she is Archer’s field partner and never quite totally ex (they are named beneficiary on each other’s life insurance policies). she now goes out with Cyril Figgis from accounts who is a nervous and comparatively well-meaning bespectacled nerd and thus the butt of nearly all of Archer’s jokes. he has an extremely large penis and makes stir-fry for Lana every Friday (Cyril: “Guess what we call it…” Archer: “Stir Friday?” Cyril: “…Wow, that is…actually better”.) the admin side of things is handled by Cheryl/Carol/Cristal/Carina – who changes her name a lot and likes being strangled – and Pam who is fat and grew up on a ‘cheese farm’. Dr. Krieger is in charge of R&D and doesn’t really say much but what he does say is unremittingly dark (Pam: “And that’s the reason I never have sex with co-workers. That … and no one ever lets me.” Krieger: “I’ve had good results with ether”).
add in gay agent (gaygent) Gillette, Scatter-brain-Jane, (infil)trator Krenshaw/Kremensky, Archer’s long-suffering butler Woodhouse, KGB boss (Mallory’s on-off lover and probably Sterling’s father) Nicolai Jackov and Len Trexler the boss of rival agency ODIN (Archer: “Ugh, the Organisation of Douchebags in…wait I had something for this…..Nowheresville”) and another of Mallory’s former conquests, and you just about have the whole cast of characters.
Archer uses heavy doses of irony to transition all the social politics of the old-school spy genre into the world of equal opportunities legislation sexual harassment cases and diversity criteria. every character is almost equally as insecure shallow self-obsessed and sexually tragic as the next and very few social constructs or taboos escape the sharp edge of the writer (Adam Reed)’s pen. just like Reed’s work for Adult Swim – Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021 – Archer is parodic, sharp and laugh-out-loud-and-then-feel-ashamed funny. given that the first season has already won the plaudits of philosopher and wet-mouthed genius Slavoj Žižek, cultural critic, academic and celebrity hairstylist Cornel West, trance DJ and leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales Archbishop Vincent Nichols, feminist activist Ron Jeremy and not-long-enough-since-dead actor/lobbyist/fascist and bi-sexual icon Charlton Heston, it’s probably no surprised that a second season is currently on the drawing board.