The show Archer is about the world’s greatest spy named Sterling Archer and his wacky adventures and the people he works with. The show was created by Adam Reed for the FX network back in 2009 and is currently still airing and about to premiere their eighth season on May 5th. By over-exaggerating stereotypes — specifically, the “douche bag” or “player” stereotype of men and the “seductress” stereotype of women -- the show is mocking traditional gender roles. And by employing a very self-aware male gaze (we see the world through the sexist eyes of Archer), the show makes the audience understand the stupidity of that perspective.
Sterling Archer is the world’s best secret agent and the main character of the series Archer. In the show Archer is often portrayed as a player, the alpha male, and an immature douchebag. The numerous amounts of woman, of age and not of age, he sleeps with is ridiculous. Either trying get a girl or paying a prostitute he is always sleeping with and or insulting women left and right. The morning after Archer doesn’t even care care to see them out the door he sees them nothing more than his continued list of conquests, toys, or sexual objects even. He’s the worst of the worst and almost makes you think there’s no way a human being like this even exists. However, sadly there are people who are like or even worse than this and kind of makes you disgusted to even think that there are people out there like this. Although Archer does sleep with a lot of women and clearly shows no intention of caring for women, at least not until later, or the health he is also quite the charmer in the show which only adds to his crazy persona. If he is not paying for a women to sleep with him he is charming his way into a bed with women at night. On multiple occasions Archer leans on the table flirting with a woman and gives the well known flirtatious head dip when talking to a woman. Being a charmer he is quite often the center of many female characters attraction and that only helps him, being a spy, when needing to seduce or persuade someone. Archer lives a good life full of danger and excitement and is quite skilled in using weapons, driving, and martial arts. Despite that he finds more joy in his job when enjoying a lifestyle full of sex, alcohol, thrills, and lacrosse. Most people he associates himself with despise him, can’t stand his presence, or want him dead. Having Archer be the main character we follow Archer’s lifestyle and in doing so some could say the show is seen through an extreme male gaze. However, this is nothing compared to the stereotypes of women throughout the show.
The top female agent at ISIS and usually coming second to Archer is secret Lana Kane. Kane is portrayed as the seductress of the series and is usually seen as the center of every male and female attraction. Kane is usually shown in a one piece, cowl neck dress with her thigh high stiletto boots showing off her womanly physique and figure. Due to different circumstances Kane is more than not seen in her underwear and as the series progresses she is seen with even less clothing.(Example) Kane is very smart, clever, and sharp witted so she is commonly the person to get the agency out of sticky situations. Kane is also very tall and extremely strong, when she’s not outwitting her enemies she’s using the skills she’s obtained in martial arts or brute strength to get what she wants. Kane has also had relations with multiple people in the office and was at one point in a relationship with Archer. However, that didn’t not last and now they aren’t exactly on the best terms. At one point to get back at Archer she decided to say anyone that wants to have sex with her should come into an office. She had almost everyone in the agency men and women alike line up outside the office. When people went in though they didn’t have sex with her, instead Kane said “you’re allowed to say that you’ve had sex with me which is the next best thing”. She did this to everyone and when asked wouldn’t she be worried that since you said the same thing to everyone someone would figure it out. In response she said “no because they’re all stupid and I mean look at me… who wouldn’t want to admit they’ve had sex with this”. This is just one example of how Kanes charisma works in her favor.
Archer creates a world where traditional gender roles are used to create and shape the characters on the show. By doing this the show mocks these traditional gender roles and shows how absolutely ridiculous they are. In Archer these stereotypes are exaggerated so much that it’s almost impossible to imagine that this could be true. The “player” stereotype is taken to an extreme in this show. A life full of non stop sex, diseases, and an unsatisfied need for something that you just can’t quite figure out what that might be but you know no matter what you do you still feel empty inside. When you do find love it is ripped from you and you’re left heartbroken and stranded alone not knowing what to do but turn back to your old habits. The “seductress” stereotype s also taken to an extreme in ways you would and wouldn’t expect. Being a spy you can imagine having skills in order to get your way whether they be mind games, brute force, or persuading through various ways. When in that line of work you can only assume that that is what’s needed in order to be able to do you job. But not outside of work to get whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Everyday something new tearing or shredding your clothing. Almost always in your underwear or less clothing with thousands of eyes staring at you around every corner. It’s almost as if every time we see Kane that were seeing her through Archer’s eyes. Of course having Archer be the main character it is expected to see the world through his perspective, but there are times where we are literally seeing the world through Archer’s eyes. This creates a very known male gaze throughout the entire show which causes the characters to act in a different way depending on how Archer sees them. Looking at the show this way employs a very sexist view of woman in the show and only leads to them being devalued as human beings. This being so makes it so stupid that the audience can only see and laugh at how idiotic these characters are, when in actuality the show is mocking these traditional gender roles we’ve learned to mold into in life.