Sterling Archer Is Depressed
The animated adult comedy Archer relies heavily on the "adult" part for its humor. On the surface, it's a show about a spy agency, at least in most seasons, but a lot of its jokes come from how hilariously maladjusted the entire cast of characters is.
From a thick-hogged butt-monkey accountant to a heavily-tattooed killing/fuck machine head of HR, Archer puts the fun in dysfunction, with the titular character being the most prominent example. In a word, Sterling Archer is broken, and in five words, he is a "vain, selfish, lying, alcoholic man-whore," and that comes from his own mother. A person whose relationship with Sterling could probably best be described by Sigmund Freud simultaneously getting a boner and screaming for all eternity.
But, see, all of that's actually a red-herring, or rather like the fake porn folder filled with slightly risque stuff that you allow other people to find to make them stop looking for the really disturbing stuff you're into like we ... heard other people do. The show does this because when you really get inside Archer (insert catchphrase here), you find the kind of hidden psychological damage that's impossible to laugh at.
In the Season 5 episode "Baby Shower," we find out that Archer had a wetnurse named Ruby until he was 4, which was the entire joke. He was breastfed later than most kids. Hahaha. But later, there is a scene where he's infiltrating a hotel dressed as the staff and his colleague is looking for a nametag, to which Archer immediately gets weirdly excited, asking if there's one saying "Ruby." And since we know from earlier episodes that his mom wasn't really around for the first 4-5 years of his life, this Ruby obsession starts looking... really sad. Because he had no maternal figure during his formative years, Archer literally and figuratively latched onto Ruby, forming a connection between this total stranger who was just doing her job and feelings of "happiness," a connection that has haunted him well into adulthood.
The show often jokes about Archer using sex and booze to fill the hole where his mother's love should be but, in this scene, he's showing vulnerability, and that just makes it so much worse. It's like ... imagine Wile E. Coyote just breaking down one day and crying over not being able to catch the Roadrunner, and then the episode just ends without a punchline. Hahaha?
However, the most gut-wrenching revelation about Archer comes from the Season 4 episode "Once Bitten," and it all boils down to two words. In a parody of The Natural, it turns out that Archer was gutshot by a stalker when he was a teen, to which another character asks him, "Do you not see how the actions of a deeply disturbed woman have profoundly influenced your life?" Then Archer goes, "Well obviously..." before catching himself and confirming that the other person was talking about his sports career being cut short. But it's in that "Well obviously" where we get to the real tragedy behind Archer.
Because that line only has one explanation. The attempted murder has turned Archer into a misogynist, always subconsciously distrusting women and, therefore, never forming real, long-lasting relationships with them. And Archer is perfectly aware of it all. He knows why he, on some level, hates women, and he cannot do a damn thing to stop it. So he'll continue to sleep with random strangers because, through his conquests, he gains power over these women, which allows him to take symbolic revenge on the one woman who took all of his power from him all those years ago. Hahaha ...?
Also, his best (and only) friend raped him. It's probably a good thing that Archer's voice actor, H. Jon Benjamin, also voices Bob from Bob's Burgers because if anyone needs an escape into non-rapey wholesomeness, it's the guy portraying the most tragic character ever.
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Top image: 20th Television