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If "Mad Men" celebrates Kennedy-era hedonism, rife with booze, cigarettes and no-strings sex, "Archer" pushes the same ethos to its absurd conclusions. The show implies that wanting the James Bond/Don Draper lifestyle isn't too far from wanting the disastrous, pathetic Sterling Archer lifestyle. The constant rivalry between boorish Archer and wormy Cyril exaggerates the flaws of two types of masculinity: A real man would split the difference between macho and sensitive.
And while gags about the characters' kinky obsessions rely on shock value for laughs, they also support a deeper interpretation of their psyches. Compared to the crudely representational animated kids of "South Park," "Archer's" characters look more like real grown-ups, and demonstrate more grown-up pathologies.
Maybe that's a lot to put on a show that relies so heavily on dick jokes and bloody slapstick. But compared to the random-run-amok ethos of Adult Swim's humor, "Archer's" cuts a little deeper. In 2010 Reed told the Wall Street Journal, "We just found ourselves going from the cutting edge guys at Adult Swim to being the old dudes in chinos and a golf shirt," Reed said. "I was getting older. I wanted to hear about prostate cancer and mortgages."
In fact, in his second season, Archer has faced health scares and the possibility that he fathered a child, suggesting that he could evolve into something other than a total jackass. Maybe a partial jackass. Today, Reed says, "It feels to me like I'm writing more mature stuff, and slowly growing into a real TV writer."
A real writer who comes up with things like a sex-robot called "Fister Roboto," that is.