By the time the now iconic FX series “Archer” made its way onto the scene in 2010, there were a number of elements in place to ensure that the animated sitcom would not only find an audience, but also become an inescapable pop culture phenomenon. It's the kind of show that office workers quote in the break room, the kind of show that inspires internet memes and Halloween costumes.
Some of Archer’s success is thanks to the recent success of similarly edgy, ribald sitcoms, such as FX’s own “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”, as well as the evolution of animated programs that push the envelope in terms of adult humor, from “Family Guy” to the slew of programming on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block. In fact, it was on Adult Swim where “Archer” creator Adam Reed developed his own style with his two pre-Archer series: “Sealab 2021” and “Frisky Dingo.” Reed’s style is unmistakably present in those works, but with “Archer” all of the elements came into place perfectly: Reed’s style and writing is sharper and more assured than ever, and audiences were ready to embrace an animated show like “Archer”. However, what really makes “Archer” what it is, and what really helped the show connect with its audience, are the great characters - particularly the title character: Sterling Archer.
One does not have to watch Archer for long, usually less than one episode, to get a feel for the main cast of characters, including Sterling’s hilariously cold and domineering mother Mallory as well as Sterling’s former love interest Lana Kane, who more or less plays straight woman to the cast of loony characters. However, Sterling himself, voiced by the always brilliant Jon Benjamin, has a unique and volatile combination of traits that makes his character a blast to watch. In fact, the character of Sterling Archer is so strong one has to wonder what he would be like in other situations. For example, what would Archer be like if he had to actually work with actors?
In this hypothetical situation, there is one thing that is certain: Sterling would love the opportunity to work with Burt Reynolds. That is, unless Burt Reynolds happened to also be dating Mallory - which is always a touchy subject for Sterling. However, as long as his mother was not involved in any way, Sterling would surely jump at the opportunity to work with the “Gator” legend. However, it is also likely that Sterling would spend so much time gushing about the star’s mid-1970s action movies that he would not be able to concentrate on actually working in any capacity.
The idea of asking Sterling Archer to work with any actor that he does not happen to idolize is surely entering the danger zone. The character’s track record for working with other people, and just generally relating to or even caring about anybody besides himself is less than stellar, to put it mildly. This is just the tip of the iceberg of ways in which Sterling is difficult to not only work with, but to associate with in any way:
Intricate voicemail pranks which are generally capped off with an insult.
Being unimaginably cruel and condescending to his kindly, hardworking butler (who may actually be his father).
Perpetuating the nasty running jokes about his coworker and ex-girlfriend Lana’s “monster hands”.
Demonstrating a monstrously cavalier attitude when his coworker Bret sustains life-threatening injuries - which he does on a regular basis.
These are only a few of the things that make it so fun to watch Archer as a character, but surely not much fun to work with. The environment of a movie or television set - or anywhere actors are working hard - is generally one of intensity in which concentration is valued, and hard work and professionalism are necessary. Actors may not always get along, but some degree of respect is essential in order to accomplish anything.
On one hand, it would seem as though Sterling would do poorly with other, real actors, as he fits the classic description of “does not play well with others”. On the other hand, Sterling is also excellent at his job as a field agent, and it is possible he would put the same degree of dedication towards acting. An educated conclusion would be that Archer would work with real actors, and do a good job, assuming that his costars would take his abuse and defer to him at all times - unless one of those costars is Burt Reynolds.