Last week I asked the Twitter for suggestions re: shows the Emmys ignore, and then proceeded to pretty much ignore everything you said. Because while I agree Parks & Rec is a stellar show, it actually has had several major Emmy nominations, including four for Amy Poehler, an Outstanding Comedy Series nod in 2011, an Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series nomination in 2012, and even a “Special Class” nod for the internet short “April and Andy’s Road Trip”. Yes, Parks failed to get a nomination this year, but overall, the Emmy voters are well aware of the show and have shown it genuine love.
What I was looking for was specifically shows that the Emmys consistently ignore, stuff that has been on for years and continuously fails to earn significant recognition from the voting body that supposedly exists to uphold and reward excellence in television. To an extent, especially when it comes to dramas, I think the idea of an “Emmy snub” is becoming passé because there is just so much good material to choose from that it’s inevitable beloved shows will not get nominated every year. That’s why I didn’t choose Orphan Black—this year. It was a first season sleeper hit—exactly the kind of show the Emmys take a couple seasons to catch up to. If they ignore it next year, then yes, we have a snub situation, but I wasn’t really expecting to see it included this year.
Anyway, on to the first show that the Emmys reprehensibly pretend does not exist.
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 4/49
Previous Emmy Consideration: H. Jon Benjamin, Outstanding Voiceover Performance (2010)
Most Deserves Notice For: Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Voiceover Performance for H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Walters and Amber Nash, Outstanding Directing (Comedy), Outstanding Writing (Comedy), and at the Creative Arts Emmys: Outstanding Animated Program, Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing (Comedy), Outstanding Sound Editing (Series), and Outstanding Sound Mixing (Half-hour)
As you can see, I think Archer deserves A LOT of notice that it is not getting.
What is it?
Created by Adam Reed (Sealab 2021), Archer follows the exploits of Sterling Archer and the secret agents of ISIS, the world’s most incompetent spy agency. It debuted in 2010 and from the beginning was one of the best things on TV. There is no room for improvement in Archer—from the very first episode it has been ruthlessly terrific. There’s no such thing as a bad episode of Archer, only good, great and greatest, and its unrelenting quality is what makes the Emmys ignoring it so egregious. It’s so good I can’t pick a single favorite episode. If I had to choose, I’d go with the 60 minute three-parter Heart of Archness (season 3, episodes 1-3), because it’s a three-for-one deal and involves pirates and lacrosse.
Set in a fictitious world of privatized spy agencies where everyone dresses like it’s the 1960’s yet carries cell phones and modern weaponry, and relying on a vast, and often obscure, pop culture reference library, Archer has some of the fastest, sharpest dialogue on TV. The references layer one over the other and the show features a series of increasingly elaborate running gags, and for a comedy that uses an above average number of orgasm euphemisms, it’s one of the smartest comedies on TV. The show will sometimes get political, lampooning issues like healthcare and sexism, but the show’s real intelligence depends on the audience remembering previous bits and gags and following a number of ongoing plots that only pop up once every year or so. It’s a comedy but it requires drama-series focus to keep everything in line.
There’s no laugh track and the pace is relentless, so it’s particularly user-friendly on alternate formats like Netflix (it’s available on Instant) or DVD. Archer takes the best of high and lowbrow entertainment and throws it in a blender, and it does it with considerable style. The animation is polished, with a unique artistic design that borrows from every decade, and the voiceover work is absolutely flawless across the board. Given how fast the dialogue is delivered and how often it overlaps, it’s hard to believe the actors record in individual sessions, and not all together as a group playing off one another, but they do. If you haven’t seen it, do. That way you can feel superior the next time the Emmys ignore it.
When did you fall in love?
Season 1, episode 1. “That’s how you get ants”. A brilliantly simple exchange involving a totally random setup that lead to an unexpected end-of-episode payoff, and over the seasons it’s become one of Archer’s most rewarding running gags.