In the early to mid-90s, The Simpsons was the pinnacle of television comedy. Filled with classic references, one-liners, and great music, the animated series defined the pop culture of my youth.
Since then, the show has become a Flintstones-esque staple for Fox, but many of its older fans (and younger generations who missed the peak and, thus, never boarded the train) need the type of biting comedy The Simpsons used to provide. Thank "God" for Sterling Archer.
The first four seasons of Archer are classic – half James Bond and half Arrested Development, everything about this stylish cartoon is a hit. The characters take a few seasons to evolve, but in doing so, an immersive world is created where you not only totally believe Archer is capable of drunkenly taking on the CIA, KGB, hit men, cyborgs, drug cartels, and the Yakuza, but you gleefully root for him.
The beauty of Sterling Archer is what used to draw us to Homer Simpson; this is a man you'd hate in real life, but love him for it on screen. What separates Sterling from Homer is what will keep him from going stale for years to come. Homer's animated violence is stifled by the tone of the show – he's too lovable. Sterling won't hesitate to drink a bottle of whiskey, shoot you in the knee, and spit the whiskey into the wound.
Not only is it filled with action, Archer is hilarious. Every single running gag and self-referential one-liner hits the spot. The writing staff clearly knows their audience and manages to deftly walk a fine line that South Park, Family Guy, and every other animated series has stumbled on at one point or another.
Even the classic dapper animation style, reminiscent of Mad Men, is more sophisticated than any of its contemporaries. It hits every 007 and Bourne sweet spot. It's as though you're watching a Springfield in perpetual McBaine mode.
Although often juvenile, Archer pulls no punches with adult humor. No subject is off limits, and even Colbert can't sarcastically drive home a point like this cast. There's not an addiction or vice on this planet they haven't at least discussed, if not completely delved into.
Archer's Vice – Jumping the Snark
Season 5, the most recent season of Archer (dubbed Archer Vice), took a dangerous plot turn. Every season, we wondered how they'd possibly top the insanity of the last one. This season, they went rogue and became cocaine dealers, and they're terrible at it. At one point, Archer even smuggles cocaine into Columbia. It looked like this could be the season they jump the shark…
…but it wasn't.
The latest season turned out to be even more impressive than the last four, pulling no punches with plot twists. Lana is pregnant (*spoiler alert* - she works straight through the pregnancy), Pam is a coke addict, everyone's broke and struggling to make it. The show not didn't change anything except our perceptions, as selling cocaine is actually the least harmful decision these anti-heroes have ever made.
Viva, la Archer!
With ageless characters, a brilliant cast, and witty writing, Archer has cemented FX's reputation as what Fox used to be. While Bart's rebellious attitude and Homer's incompetence have become family-friendly fodder, the Archer clan have an array of high-tech weaponry, drugs, alcohol, sex addictions, and the strangest line of morality.
If you're a fan of anything, and you haven't seen Archer yet, I recommend immediately clicking this link and doing so…because it's well on its way to becoming the greatest show in the history of television.
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. Penny is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, Main Street, Lifehack, Cannabis Now, and Money Side of Life. He documents his experiences blowing the whistle on the banks and working with Anonymous on his blog.