The best comedies combine broad hijinks with nuanced gags that can’t possibly be fully consumed in a single viewing. FX’s Archer, Adam Reed’s silly, profane animated sitcom for adults, is one such show, having slyly spoofed the spy genre for seven seasons and running. Season eight premieres on FXX on April 5, making this a fitting time to revisit one of the show’s most esoteric running bits: Sterling Archer’s deep well of bad literature jokes. Film editor Serena Bramble’s five-minute video encompasses each and every literary reference to emerge from Archer’s mouth and subsequently land with a thundering thud.
What’s especially delightful is how Archer’s references span the literary canon, touching on everything from Elizabethan theater and French naturalism to comic books, The Babysitter’s Club, and even Emily Post’s rules of etiquette. Also of note is his apoplectic hatred of George “Bore”-well, whose Animal Farm he describes as “not a book” but “an allegorical novella about Stalinism and—spoiler alert—it sucks!”
Bramble sees more in Archer’s literary references than mere in-jokes, however. She writes,
Reed has admitted that the show’s many literary references, including the many from other characters not included for time, are the remnant of his tenure as a frustrated English major, yet their contrast with the more deplorable aspects of Archer’s personality was probably the first indicator of his humanity, his intelligence when he chose to use it, and maybe even an indication of his lonely, friendless childhood and adolescence.
Looking to bone up before the new season? We’ve got you covered.
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