My god, I love Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin). He’s such a glorious arsehole. As the star field agent of the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), he gets to indulge in his core pastimes of violence, womanising and drinking while saving his country. I know – best job ever. It’s Bond taken to its absurd/logical conclusion but where we don’t really get to delve deep into the character of James Bond one thing is obvious about Archer’s behaviour: the mommy maketh the man.
Because head of Isis is Malory Archer, Sterling’s mother. Never a front runner for mom of the year, Malory shipped Sterling off to boarding school at the earliest opportunity and lets him know what a gigantic aching disappointment he is whenever she can. He so badly wants her approval and she so badly loves withholding it. If Malory sounds familiar it’s because she’s voiced by Jessica Walter who played that other poisonous matriarch Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development.
Also messing with his shit is fellow Isis field agent, his smoking hot ex Lana (Aisha Tyler). Lana is tired of being overlooked: "I am sick of you getting the best assignments just because your mother’s the boss!" She tells Archer "Do you know how that feels?" "Besides awesome?" he responds. Archer’s an authentic sociopath y’ken: incapable of empathy, things only matter when they affect him.
Much like everyone else at Isis. Cheryl (Judy Greer) is Malory’s needy perverted secretary; Pam (Amber Nash), a flagcracking human resources director; Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) a freaky scientist erotically fixated on the homeless and Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell), agency comptroller, is best characterised as an utterly clueless shitsack who lucked out into rebound shagging Lana because he was the total opposite of Archer.
So no good will come from anyone here and no one much likes anyone else. "Way to go, Chokely Carmichael" says Archer as Cyril fucks up a darts bet. Abusive nicknames – part genius, part shite -are his speciality. Perhaps that’s why I like him so much.
Because for better or worse Archer is America. Brilliant yet stupid, damaged beyond repair, strung out on adrenaline and delusion, only capable of seeing things from his perspective, living each moment like it’s his last, giving no thought to the consequences. He’s a necessary evil in the war against communist thugs, assassins, eco-terrorists and other enemies of freedom. Screw you if you doubt it. Nothing on TV is quite as much fun.
The verdict on Archer: Danger Zone!
Marks out of 10: 8
Imagined: Friday, 11 March 2011