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How ‘Archer’ Became More Than A Spy Spoof

The spy genre has always left itself open to be spoofed, deliberately or not. With overly complex world ending plots, pseudoscience, impossible gadgets, male protagonists who exude toxic masculinity, and goatee stroking supervillains. Espionage adventures that have taken themselves too seriously have erred into self-parody.

Cinema and TV are no strangers to mocking, embracing, and celebrating the all-too-goofy cliches and inaccuracies of the fictional world of spies. Austin Powers, Johnny English, and Action Team followed inept secret agents unaware of their own shortcomings bumbling through missions.

Archer began in the same way. Isis (International Secret Intelligence Service) top agent Sterling Archer (H Jon Benjamin) was James Bond with an even worse bedside manner: self-interested, arrogant, misogynistic, with innumerable parental issues. To his co-workers, each a recognisable archetype of the spy genre, he was insufferable. Fellow agents Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) and Ray Gillette (Reed) had to experience Archer’s ‘professionalism’ the most,

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