Adam Reed Talks the “Smilthy” Good Fun of Archer
I must admit up front that of I am unashamedly a huge fan of FX’s Archer, which I consider to be one of the funniest and well-written animated series I’ve ever seen. Adam Reed, alongside co-conspirator Matt Thompson, has created one of the smartest, most risqué shows on TV. Who knew that office politics and HR directives could provide as much intrigue, and laughs, as the cloak and dagger of international espionage and misuse of large caliber weapons?
Season 4 of Archer starts January 17th on FX, with promises of distasteful office romance and daring missions replete with inappropriate behavior and even more inappropriate dialogue, as well as great guest stars in roles they might one day regret.
I had a chance once again to talk with Adam Reed about the show’s growing success, nasty humor and what we can expect to see in the coming season.
Dan Sarto: Archer continues to garner critical acclaim and an enthusiastic audience. The network has already committed to Season 5. To what do you attribute the growing success of the show?
Adam Reed: Well I think our cast is amazing and I really think that FX surprised probably a lot of people, but nobody more than me, by sticking with the show especially after the ratings for Season 1 were not, what’s the word, “good” at all.
They really stuck with it. When the first ratings were coming in and they were steadily getting worse and worse and worse, they kept saying, “Don’t worry about it, it’s a marathon and we will find our audience.” I just assumed that that was their way of being nice and prepping me for the bad news. We’re going to let you down really easy. It’s not you, it’s us and I want to still be friends. But they meant it, which was just shocking. They really did let it find an audience.
DS: That may speak to the way they show patience with all their shows not just an animated series.
AR: You know, I can’t say enough good things about FX. I know it sounds pretty lame and suck-uppy. They do what they say they are going to do. From a business standpoint if they say something then they do it. They have promoted the heck out of the show. Creatively, it’s not like “Here are ten thousand notes. Do it like these 30 different people who you’ve never met are telling you to do it.” We've always worked closely with just a few executives there and I really think that when they believe in a show, they stick with it. They’re smart people and they have confidence in themselves. They are not just reactionary and panicky like, “Oh! What do we do now?” That’s a really nice thing. I think a lot of network executives aren't necessarily coming from a place of confidence. They are coming from a place of fear. So they [FX executives] have been really great to work with.
DS: Well it’s nice you are in a good spot with the executives. The flip side that is that you’ve produced something of tremendous quality for the network to get behind. It’s great to see they’ve rewarded you with loyalty and promotional support. But you’ve come through on your end with a fantastic show that continues to get better.
AR: We’re basically the Honda factory and they’re the Honda dealership.
DS: That’s an apt analogy.
AR: It sells itself, Dan. No, I’m kidding. There was a huge learning curve at first and we didn’t know what we are doing and still barely know. The main thing is that the show has improved in quality in every way from Season 1. A lot of that is me getting out of the way of the extremely talented people that work on the show, and trusting them. It’s not my place to tell somebody with 14 years of art school how something should look.
It’s really been nice to see this talented group of people make what I think is a really great looking show and then to write stuff for this really talented cast to then turn into real words.
DS: How many episodes are you doing for Season 4? Last season you had Chris Provenzano do some writing for you. Is he still involved? Are you still doing the bulk of the writing?
AR: Yeah, we are doing 13 shows again. The lovely folks at Justified stole Chris back from us. He is back fulltime on that show, so we haven’t been able to use him. But, we have some other good writers. We have an extremely talented guy named Rick Cleveland who is writing a couple of scripts this coming season. But I’m still doing most of the writing. A couple of writers have become available that we will hopefully have for next season. My goal ultimately is to not do anything but just walk around with a riding crop and a monocle.
DS: Is that a little bit of Krieger in you?
AR: Yeah. But hopefully I will get to work with a lot more of these writers. It’s fun also to get out of their way when they have a great idea that I never would have thought of. That’s pretty neat.