‘Archer’ Creator Adam Reed on the Big Twist and the End of ‘Vice’
Archer Vice, as far as television shows go, spiraled so far over the top it was tough to remember where it came from.
It was a batshit-crazy deviation—Archer in Grand Theft Auto mode—that transformed the ISIS spy agency into a drug cartel slinging cocaine for the CIA, and pitted agents Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), Malory Archer (Jessica Walter), Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell), and the rest against the Yakuza, a sexy “coyote,” South American arms dealers, a Sons of Anarchy-esque biker gang, and the tyrannical ruler of San Marcos, voiced by Fred Armisen. It transformed the “anything goes” human resources head, Pam (Amber Nash), into a cocaine monster; kinky secretary Cheryl (Judy Greer) into a self-described “outlaw-country” music star named Cherlene; and forced Dr. Krieger (Lucky Yates) to confront his fellow Hitler clones.
But all that madness paled in comparison to the interesting reveal at the end of Archer’s fifth season finale: the arrival of Archer and Lana’s daughter, Abijean (or “A.J.” for short). It’s a bold move for a series that revels in narcissism and the politically incorrect.
Now, we’ve seen Archer’s parenting skills be put to the test before with the “Wee Baby Seamus,” his would-be child with the prostitute Trinette. Their brief time together resulted in Seamus consuming loads of booze—via a Bloody Mary-soaked celery stick, a martini-soaked olive, etc.—and Archer and Seamus getting each other’s names tattooed on their backs.
The Daily Beast managed to track down Archer creator Adam Reed, who’s busy trekking across Spain, to discuss the end of Vice, the arrival of baby A.J., and where the show is headed in Season 6.
Loved the Archer Vice deviation but understand you’re returning back to the spy/office format. Why did you decide to go rogue with Vice, and why have you decided to return to the spy/office format after a season?
I thought Archer: Vice would be a fun yet temporary change, and always envisioned returning to “regular" Archer once this season’s storyline was finished.
Giving Archer/Lana a daughter is a big move for Archer. How will it affect both their dynamic, and the overall dynamic of the show?
I’m not sure that Baby A.J. will change the dynamic of the show very much, but I am excited to see all the trouble that Archer can get into while babysitting. I keep thinking about Chuck Jones’s cartoons starring Marc Antony and Pussyfoot.
Was Krieger swapped with a clone during the fifth season finale?
We don’t know. Well, Lucky Yates and I know, but nobody else does.
Any idea about where the show is heading for Season 6? Any fun locations/subplots you’re exploring? You’ve already gone to space, under the ocean…
I would be very surprised if, at some point in the near future, the ISIS gang doesn’t get shrunk down to microbe size and injected into the brain of an important scientist. Very surprised.
I understand the characters from Archer were all based on real people in Georgia, but how much of an influence was Mad Men/Don Draper on the office setting and character of Sterling Archer?
The production and costume design obviously owe a great deal to Mad Men’s repopularizing the 1960s aesthetic, and Archer’s character model is just lucky enough to be that handsome in real life. Which is probably why he’s a model, now that I think about it.
Have you ever contemplated making a live-action Archer movie? If you potentially did, who do you think would be great for Archer—would it be Jon Hamm?
We’re working on a way to create an H. Jon Hamm Benjamin hybrid. Or should be.
Have you ever cooked up stuff that’s too racy for the censors? I feel like the show’s come pretty close on many, many occasions.
Not really. But we have had FX ask us to make scenes racier than the first draft of the script, though, which is the first time I’ve ever had a network do that.
If you had to pick, what’s the craziest stuff you’ve managed to get on Archer, in your opinion?
I probably shouldn’t say this, but none of it seems that crazy to me—everything the characters do seems, to me at least, totally logical.
Loved the Fred Armisen, Bryan Cranston, Jon Hamm, etc., cameos. Anyone you’re dying to get on the show? Also loved the Bob’s Burgers spin-off…any more spin-offs in the pipeline?
We don’t have any more crossovers planned right now, and we’ve had such amazing guest stars/villains on the show in the past that now the focus is on writing scripts that feature the return of some of them. We’ve actually joked about all the past villains forming a sort of Legion of Doom-type organization.
Always been curious about the Arrested Development connection with Jessica Walter, Judy Greer, Jeffrey Tambor, and David Cross. How’d this come about, and will more cast members from Arrested be guesting on Archer?
I think Jessica has been cashing in favors left and right.
I’ve heard there’s a movement to have Liza Minnelli cameo as Malory’s unseen nemesis, Trudy Beakman…
I have not heard that but it’s a great idea! Another favor for Jessica to cash in…
Krieger is very sinister, between the Boys from Brazil background and his various other doings. Have you ever contemplated making him a series villain?
No. I personally don’t think Krieger is a bad person. Lucky Yates summed him up perfectly, with a D&D reference, calling him “chaotic neutral.”
Are Conrad Stern, Cyborg Barry, Nikolai Jakov, and Brett all gone for good?
Jakov and Brett are both gone for good, but Conway and Barry will hopefully be joining us again soon. (It’s pretty hard to kill those cyborgs.)
Speaking of Jakov, is it weird to see life imitating art in a way, with the current real-life tensions between the U.S. and Russia?
My worry is that we actually caused it.
Will Pam’s sister, Edie, ever make an appearance? Also, how did Cheryl get so into S&M?
No, I think the rift between Pam and Edie is too deep for any sort of reconciliation. And as for Cheryl’s particular kinks, I honestly have no idea.
Do you ever plan on revealing the identity of Sterling’s father, or is his being a bastard too central to the show and his character?
I think probably in the very last episode. Which I hope is extremely far in the future.