Sometime in 2004 or 2005, Adam Reed (one of the creators of the hilarious Sealab 2021) was wandering around a city in some foreign country or something and had trouble talking to a girl. In desperation, as men will, he resorted to his imagination, and imagined a super-suave and dashing spy who always had the perfect line ready and waiting.
Of course (and here I'm guessing rather than going by what I've read online) he probably then immediately fell back into thinking sadly about the various forms of office politics and corporate bureaucracy that he was likely dealing with, seeing as how he writes for television.
And then a miracle occurred.
All I've had today is, like, six gummi bears and some scotch.
Archer is a short-form (half-hour time slot, so around 22 minutes without ad breaks) animated television comedy. It is about the (mis)adventures of the employees of a private espionage agency named ISIS. It is what you would get if you crossed James Bond, The Office and a bit of South Park. It is seriously irreverent (read: SWEARING AND NUDITY) and hilariously funny. At least, I think so.
Sterling Archer: 'Lead' agent of ISIS. Code name Duchess which sort of pisses him off. A handsome, proficient-at-mayhem, and maybe even proficient-at-spying complete douchebag manchild.
Malory Archer: Head of and perhaps owner of ISIS, and Sterling's mom. Which explains so much. Carries on phone sex relationships with Soviet KGB officers (yes, the USSR still exists in Archer).
Lana Kane: 'Top' agent of ISIS. Actually competent, buxom, African-American, and Sterling's ex. There is bad feeling there.
Cyril Figgis: ISIS accountant; as of show opener, dating Lana. All-around milquetoast. Clingy.
Cheryl/Caryl/Carol: Malory's assistant. Has interesting tastes in sex. Apparently not very bright. Gossips a lot with...
Pam Poovey: Head of Human Resources. Responsible for the company newsletter. A plus-sized woman and big eater. Also, can fit three pool balls in her mouth at once. Has a big, big mouth in other ways too, which is unfortunate for the HR director responsible for handling mediations and personnel files.
Dr. Krieger: ISIS' version of Q. Head of the lab. Has a very wide-eyed, fixed stare, and tends to come up with disturbing solutions to problems. As well as disturbing anecdotes. Once built a sex robot he calls 'Fister Roboto.'
Ray Gillette: ISIS office worker and occasional field agent. Extremely gay. Voiced by Adam Reed.
The show takes place in a sort of alternate universe. Judging by some of the technology (cell phones, ATMs, and spy tech) it's present day. But judging by the fashions and interior decoration and the cars, it's the 1960s. If you go by the computers, it's the early 1980s. In the Archer universe, the USSR still exists, the KGB still holds sway, but terrorism is still a big deal. It's OK, just go with it, it enhances the funny.
One of the best characteristics of the show is the emphasis on office politics and boring corporate concerns when they're juxtaposed with the fact that everyone is armed and/or has access to serious weaponry.
These corporate bag munchers owe me $630 for my GODDAMN FLEX ACCOUNT!
-Doctor Krieger, brandishing a Molotov Cocktail over a stack of Health Plan forms
Not to mention problems with corporate hiring regulations...
Archer: "What? You're black...ish..."
Archer: "Well, what's the word for it, Lana? You freaked out when I said 'quadroon!'"
...yeah. It just gets worse from there.
Anyway, that's the joke in a nutshell. It's a story about office politics and gossip and romance and general backstabbing, but it's set in a James Bond-ish or True Lies-ish spy agency. Oh, and Sterling has a completely dysfunctional relationship with his mother. And that's before somebody implants a chip in his head that makes him try to assassinate her.
Strongly recommended. You can find it on NetFlix streaming, or on various other avenues around the net. Season 3 is about to begin as of January 19th, 2012 on U.S. television, on FX. (GhettoAardvark says: "cracks me up to NO END that this is somehow the highest rated program FX has ever run." Amen.)