Earlier this year, Archer creator Adam Reed announced that Sterling Archer and the gang were going back to ISIS, their non-governmental spy agency, when Season 6 begins. In the meantime, the jihadist state ISIS (or ISIL or IS) started making headlines around the world for their brutal and inhumane tactics. So it is without a whole lot of surprise that the hit FX series is dropping the “ISIS” name from the series completely.
Though there is an ample opportunity for Archer’s animated world to react to this in a big, bold, satirical manner, viewers might not even notice the acronym’s excision from the show. At some point in the premiere, two movers are seen in the background, rolling the big blue ISIS symbol out of a room as Malory Archer (Jessica Walter) speaks to her son on the phone. That will apparently be the show’s only reference to its former moniker. Executive producer Matt Thompson explained to The Daily Beast the decision behind keeping it short and simple.
“It’s just the most awful thing, and we didn’t want to have anything to do with it. There were people online saying that we should address it and say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe these guys have co-opted our name.’ That’s the way South Park would do it, coming after them and saying, ‘These assholes stole our name,’ but that’s not the way the Archer universe works, where it’s all our own creations. In our universe, they don’t exist.”
I’ll buy into that. Archer is a show known for taking jabs at general ideas about government agencies and political ideals, but Reed doesn’t often target specific real-world incidents. It was somewhat fortuitous that, as the group ISIS first adopted that name in 2013, Reed had taken Archer’s characters off on a new Vice storyline that involved them selling coke to try and keep their lifestyles afloat after the agency ISIS got shut down. Apparently Reed and FX were paying attention to the news at the time.
“We were waiting for it to go away—at least I was. Back in Season 5, FX said, ‘This might be a thing,’ and I thought, ‘Maybe it won’t be? Maybe it’ll be the mole that I’m gonna ignore and nothing will happen.’ We got sort of lucky and could organically make a merger with the CIA, so we went back and retroactively painted out the ISIS logos in parts of the show, and we just don’t talk about it in dialogue.”