At last month’s Vancouver International Film Festival, Indiewire’s Liz Shannon Miller hosted a Q&A with Adam Reed, creator of FX’s cult cartoon series “Archer.” After taking a departure from the established format with “Archer Vice,” the spy comedy will return for its sixth season in January.
Writer/producer/director/voice actor Adam Reed had plenty of stories to share about the struggles and rewards that come with putting his show on the air. In the below highlights from the Q&A, Reed reveals which jokes crossed the line, how they chose to deal with ISIS and what tattoo prompted an email from the producer of “Orange Is the New Black.” Check out the five highlights below, then watch the interview in its entirety.
Some Jokes Went Too Far for FX
“Archer” is known for humor that pushes the envelope, but the script for one episode initially included two jokes the network just couldn’t let slide: “In Episode 2 they go to Germany, and there’s a young woman who’s hitting on Archer furiously. In the script this girl was 14. Even though nothing happens between Archer and this teenager, the Standards and Practices lady said, ‘She is not 14.’ And I was like, ‘Look it up, that’s the age of consent in Germany.’ She goes, ‘Great. This is not the age of consent on FX.’… Also in Episode 2, Archer threw a baby to disarm a gunman. And they were just like, ‘Nope. We don’t throw babies here.’ Which is fair.”
Archer Makes an Appearance in the Next Season of ‘Orange is the New Black’… as a Belly Tattoo
Casting for the next season of “Orange Is the New Black” lead to an interesting email from one of their producers. Apparently the actress playing Piper’s new love interest sports an Archer tattoo peeking out of her waistband, and OITNB needed clearance from the “Archer” team before filming it: “One of the characters in their upcoming season has a pretty prominent Archer tattoo on her tummy. They said, ‘She’s gonna be a pretty prominent character and we don’t want to have to cover up this tattoo. Is that ok?’ And we were like, ‘That’s gonna be great!'”
For Adam Reed, Burt Reynolds is the Guest Star Who Can’t Be Topped
Reed makes no effort to hide his fanboy love for movie legend and Season 3 guest voice Burt Reynolds. The crew visited him at his home in Jupiter, Florida to record his lines, which took him a grand total of 20 minutes. For Reed, the experience was a highlight of working on the show: “He walked in — he was in all black, hair perfect, super handsome, big kick-ass black truck out front with the little bandit logo on the door… It was like the Bandit walked into the room and I was just awestruck. He was fantastic and super nice and afterwards we were just talking in the parking lot next to his truck. I was like, ‘My head’s gonna explode all over Burt Reynolds.'”
“Archer” Almost Had a 1720s-Era Companion Show
Some ideas just aren’t destined to be cable television shows, now matter how ridiculously awesome they may sound. Reed learned this the hard way when pitching the ill-fated cartoon “Kings Road” to FX: “My big, big idea for FX as the Archer companion show was set in 1720s England. It was about two highwaymen who lived over a brothel and robbed people… I wrote the script and we were so excited about it. We had great talent lined up like Stephen Merchant, Dawn French. And FX was like ‘We’re really, really, really not going to put this on television.’ So that was kind of heartbreaking.”
ISIS Will Be Phased out for Season Six
The New York-based International Secret Intelligence Service, or ISIS, isn’t as exactly as funny as it was when the show premiered in 2009. When asked how the now-negative connotations have affected merchandising, Reed replied, “Yeah, I don’t think that stuff’s selling like it did.” After ignoring the issue, the show will finally deal with the unfortunate coincidence in Season 6: “What I do with every problem is ignore it and hope it goes away. And FX kept saying, ‘What’s your plan for this? And I was like, ‘My plan is to ignore it and hope it goes away.’ And it didn’t. [In the Season 6 premiere], there used to be ISIS logos everywhere and we’ve gone back and taken the ISIS logos out and we don’t really talk about ISIS anymore…now we’re going to start doing some work for the CIA. Without discussing it in the show, we’ve drifted away from talking about ISIS or any of that.”