Hi folks! Welcome the to our weekly recap of Archer on the Multiversity Summer TV Binge 2020. This week’s episode is named “Stage Two” and I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t know how to feel about this episode, I don’t think it’s the first bad episode, but it is the first one I didn’t fully enjoy. Let’s dive right in.
1. “I can beat this.”
This episode begins with Malory un a bad mood, a seriously bad mood, and it turns out she had a lump in a breast exam, they go to the doctor to discover that she is healthy, but it is revealed that Archer is the one who has cancer, after all, the extreme alcoholism and reckless exposition to radiation take a toll on your health.
Breast cancer in males is an unusual disease, but it exists. I mean, compared to the total diagnostics of breast cancer, it represents around 1%, but it doesn’t mean a handful of guys, it represents over two thousand cases a year in the US alone. To think about women with cancer, I have seen it, it’s one of the most difficult things anyone can go through, and I believe that for men the worst part must be the stigma, having a “girl” disease, as we saw this episode, could mean being subject to mockery. I searched for associations dealing with this disease and I found HIS Breast Cancer Awareness and the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, I’m sure a donation, or at least a shout out, could mean a little bit of reach and awareness for this organizations.
2. Archer is a good person
This revelation makes Archer change his way of being, he promises to begin being nice to Woodhouse, he apologizes to Pam and Cheryl, he has a good talk with his mother (well, at least the best talk they could have had), and he drunkenly admits that he still loves Lana.
This could be interpreted as two ways, either he reflected on his past actions and decided to be a better person, or he reacts in that way in order to get attention from the people he mistreated all along. Whatever the way it was, he do recognizes that he is often a bad person, and at least is trying to change that.
One of the most important scenes of this episode involves Brett openly mocking Archer. I guess it could be justified given how he is usually mistreated by the spy, but damn, telling a person with breast cancer that maybe he has “girly vagina cancer” or something like that is seriously despicable, so, of course Archer beats the shit out of him.
This talks about a larger thing within the series, the rampant toxic masculinity in our culture, which is reflected in the show. You are meant to be manly, to be rude, pop culture is “made for men”, with people like those you-know-who gatekeepers in the comic and videogame and tv industry, “having feelings is for women.”
Seriously, it is taxing, it is tiring to defend yourself, folks, you can cry, you can express your feelings, don’t wait to get cancer or see your life ending to enjoy things that some dumbass said “it’s not masculine.”
4. “What if I don’t?”
I feel like I talked enough about this topic, but I want to say it again, having cancer is one of the worst thing that you can live through, I have seen it and I seriously wouldn’t even want to have it. My fiancée and I have talked about it, what would happen if either one of us gets cancer, she has a different perspective than me, but we talked about it and we are willing to be next to each-other no matter what life brings us, it is healthy to talk about things like that. I would encourage you to make a little introspection: what would happen if it happened to you?
5. Life goes on, and he still has cancer
Finally, let’s talk about what I didn’t like about this episode: at around the 15 minute mark Archer comes out of surgery and celebrates that he is cancer free, then the doctor calls three times to say that he has cancer, then he doesn’t, and finally yes he does have cancer, and that’s how the last 5 minutes of the show went.Continued below
I didn’t like it, I mean, I know I’m watching a show where the comedy is sometimes really dark, but I seriously think that they just had the idea of the episode and they were five minutes short on the screenplay, so, they filled that time with the joke of “yes he has/no he doesn’t have” and I don’t feel like it was funny.
A while ago, I watched Lindsay Ellis’ essay about Mel Brooks and the ethics of comedy, in particular Nazi satire. It is very interesting and I encourage you to watch it. In there she talks about how Brooks used the n-word on Blazing Saddles pretty liberally, but he would never show a black person hanging, because yes, comedy must be transgressive, but it has to be used “carefully and with intent”. And maybe there’s something similar here, cancer is a controversial topic, are you going to satire the difficulties of the health system, or are you going to do a cheap joke that feels like a time filler?
And that’s it for this episode, I think you can argue that this episode aged badly. I mean, look at the world right now, we are in the middle of a pandemic, millions of people are out of their private medical insurance and there’s not a safety net provided by the government, certainly cancer is not a thing to be joked about right now. Maybe in the future, maybe in a different way.
Next episode is a classic one from Archer and, if I remember correctly, this one handles cancer in a different, hopefully better way. What did you think of this episode? Leave your comments below and join us next week for our take on episode 209, “Placebo Effect”.
Oh! And the Joke of the week has to be Archer’s “we’ve got each other’s backs”