The show seems determined not to reveal the year the show is set in, as suggested when Barry's fake passport is shown with many stamps, none of which include a year, and when Sterling is asked if he knows what year it is and he appears to not even know himself.
Dialog: In Season 2, during the "Pipeline Fever" episode, Archer mentions an alligator attack that happened two years earlier. This was a real attack that took place in 1989, placing the story around 1991.
Also in Season 2, during "The Double Deuce" episode, Woodhouse has a tontine from Bloody April in World War I that is now worth one million dollars. Woodhouse states that they invested nearly 1,200 pounds. That would equate to $5,712 in 1917. With the assumed 10% interest stated in the episode, this would take 54.19 years to become one million, placing the time of the episode in approximately 1971.
Perhaps the most obvious points of Archer's setting in the past are the character histories. Malory Archer served as a spy in her late 20s in World War II, making her late middle-aged self have to live around 1970. Woodhouse served in World War I in his 20s as well, making it very unlikely for him to be alive in the 2010s. However, Doctor Krieger is said to be a possible clone of Adolf Hitler and one of the "Boys from Brazil" (the novelization of which was released in 1976) making him very young if not set in 2010s, instead of the middle-aged Krieger we see present in the show. Also, one flashback shows Woodhouse reading a telegram to young Archer from his mother that references Operation Ajax, the 1953 CIA operation that put the Shah in power in Iran (the telegram also mentions "Uncle Kermit" - presumably Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., who led the operation.) In "Once Bitten" Archer flashes back to his sixth birthday, and alludes to the fact that Mallory was involved in a coup in Guatemala at the time, placing his sixth birthday sometime around 1954.
From Cheryl's prim beehive and wardrobe to Lana's not-too-distant hippie getup, the fashion of Archer is indicative of a 1960s setting. Women are rarely seen in pants and a sense of formality exists in every character's wardrobe, a throwback to the era.
Nations of the WorldEdit
Another giveaway to Archer's setting is the fact that the USSR is clearly in existence when, in reality, it collapsed in 1991. West and East Germany have been mentioned as well, countries that ceased to exist in 1990. Fidel Castro is also referred to as the present leader of Cuba. Also odd is the fact that Turkmenistan is hinted to be independent, as seen on a map in Once Bitten, which in reality became independent with the fall of the USSR. Another oddity is that there is a country called San Marcos in this universe's Central America, being involved in a CIA-funded civil war similar to other Central American countries in the 1970s and 80s.
There are many pop culture references in the various episodes, such as Archer's referencing of Burt Reynolds movies from the mid 1970s. Another reference that definitely puts the Archer universe after the year 1986 is the consistent referencing of the Kenny Loggins song Danger Zone, which was released in 1986 with Top Gun.Another piece of history that might help to date the Archer Universe is the view of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge, as seen in "Double Trouble." If it were prior to 2001, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center should be visible from where Barry's traffic jammed cab would be. However, the Brooklyn Bridge that is depicted is a poor representation of the real one.
Another popular culture reference is Archer's use of the phrase "drill, baby, drill" in "A Going Concern." This phrase became a popular catchphrase in American culture after its use by Michael Steele at the 2008 Republican National Convention.
In "Training Day" Archer refers to Karate as the "Dane Cook of martial arts." Dane Cook hit his big break in 1998 putting the show after 1998.
In "Space Race: Part II" Star Wars is referenced a number of times; by Archer saying he left his light saber in his other pants; by Pam when she breaks the shuttle's com saying that it was "A boring conversation anyway." referencing the line used by Harrison Ford as Han Solo when he shoots the com in the detention center; by Cyril when he repeats almost there when trying to land the shuttle; and by Archer when he asks if Cyril can die after he disables the tractor beam, referencing the fate of Obi Wan Kenobi.
In "Blood Test", a flashback shows Woodhouse talking to one "Burroughs" and suggesting a drunken game of "William Tell". William S. Burroughs was an avant-garde author who, while at a party in Mexico, accidentally shot his wife while trying to shoot a drink off her head. This occurred in 1951.
In the episode "The Wind Cries Mary" Archer states that Predator hunts only in tropical forests, but in Predator 2 and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, a Predator hunts in the city, and in Alien vs. Predator the Predators hunt in a temple on an island near Antarctica. This would mean Archer has not seen any of these movies or they haven't been made yet. This puts the show after 1987, but possibly before 1990.
In the episode "El Contador", Archer makes a joke about needing to return to Earth through the stargate and how the chevrons are locking in response to Cyril becoming a field agent. The movie Stargate was released in theaters in 1994, placing Archer in '94 or later.
In the episode "Viscous Coupling", Archer calls Krieger "Neil deGrasse Tyson". Tyson made his first television appearance in 1989, but was not widely known in the media until at least the late 90's.
In the episode "The Man from Jupiter" Archer remembers seeing Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard, which was a movie that came out in 1974.
In the episode "Papal Chase", Archer says he totally prepared for his mission posing as a priest by watching every episode of Lucy, Daughter of the Devil, a television show that aired on [Adult Swim] for one season in 2007.
Despite being the category with the most frequent exceptions, the technology of Archer also reflects a past setting. In appearance, ISIS's computers are severely outdated compared to today's computers, although they are shown to be as capable as modern-era computers. For example, the characters are often seen using these computers to access the internet.
The largest part of Archer that doesn't match the '60s and '70s theme is that most of the characters have cell phones. The internet is also in existence, as Cheryl looks for online pregnancy tests on her computer, Pam has her own website and Krieger is familiar with cryptocurrency (such as bitcoins) and onion routing. In Smugglers' Blues, Krieger is shown using an app similar to Instagram (created in 2010) called Snacklesnap. In the same scene, Pam uses the same app, but interestingly scrolls down using her finger implying the existence of recent touchscreen technology. Strangely, she does this even though her device looks to be a high-end feature phone of the mid-2000s, complete with a faux finished physical keypad (every cell phone that appears on the show seems to be of the same design). In The Honeymooners, a boy can be seen using a camera-phone. The inclusion of cameras on cell phones did not become prevalent until the 2000s.
Other recent technology that appears in the Archer Universe are the energy-saving products prevalent at ISIS headquarters in "Pipeline Fever." Malory attempts to take advantage of tax breaks for reducing waste and energy consumption. To do so, ISIS acquires energy-saving compact-fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow toilets and other recent innovations.
Another aspect of the technology on Archer is the advanced space technology seen in Space Race. This includes futuristic pulse rifles, advanced shuttle ships, and a massive space station capable of artificial gravity via centrifuge. It could be however much more advanced than other technologies of the time with more funding and research.
In Drastic Voyage: Part I, it is shown that the technology to miniaturize matter and send it into the body has been achieved recently, although it is known only to certain sectors of the CIA, and is the knowledge is lost in Drastic Voyage: Part II after a shrunken sub grows back to size in the creator's body, killing him, and then Krieger smashes the computer database containing the process.
One can see the characteristic 1960s era technology in the episode "Jeu Monegasque" which features Formula 1 cars that look very similar to the mid-engined, wingless cars run in the 1960s.
The weapons that appear on the show are from a diverse variety of time periods. Some of the more recent weapons that appear are the TEC-9 and the Walther PPK/s, which were made between 1985-1990 and the Desert Eagle Mark VII which was introduced in 1990. MP 40, a German submachine gun popular in World War II, makes frequent appearances, especially with ODIN personnel.
Foods and drinksEdit
- In the episode "Placebo Effect", Archer's IV is filled with Zima, instead of cyclophosphamide. Zima was introduced in the year 1993, and was discontinued outside of Japan in 2008, thus possibly putting the time period between 1993-2015.
- In "Swiss Miss", Malory uses the trip to Gstaad as an excuse to smuggle as much Swiss absinthe back to the United States. Absinthe production was prohibited in Switzerland from 1910 until 2005, possibly placing the timeline after 2005
Many of the cars featured on the show were introduced during the 1960s and 1970s. Volkswagen Type 1s, Aston Martin DB5s, station wagon-based ambulances and Ford Customs make frequent appearances on the show, albeit coexisting with modern vehicles such as DAF, Mercedes cab-over engine trucks and even Citroen Jumpers that juxtapose the show's supposed past setting. In the episode "The Wind Cries Mary", during a scene in which Malory explains the supposed death of Luke, what seems to be a 2005 Dodge Durango modified as an airstair set surrounded by dead ODIN agents can be seen in a photo on a hidden computer screen. The same vehicle appears more clearly in an airport scene in the last episode of Archer: Vice.
Many anachronisms are made with New York's traffic in the Archer universe. Mercedes 300 SE sedans are used as taxis, alongside what seem to be more realistic 1980s Chevrolet Caprices. Ford Galaxie-based cars are used as police cruisers by the NYPD in an older livery. The introduction video playing on the GPS screen of the Challenger owned by Sterling shows an older Dodge Challenger with a license plate with the Dodge logo used since 2009. Another anachronistic trait is the presence of vehicles that were never exported to the U.S. GAZ 24 Volgas make numerous appearances in the show and yellow Karoza SM 11s are used for public transit in New York. The Fiat 500 appears multiple times in New York and, although they were sold in the U.S., they were never very popular.
Aircraft presented in the show also reflect a past setting. Planes such as the Grumman G-21 Goose appear to be fully functional even though, given their age and lack of economic viability, their operators would be more than likely to decommission them. Commercial jet airliner technology also varies, with Boeing 707s and 727s, aircraft that have been phased out from major airlines since the early 1990s coexisting with Boeing 737 classics and 777s, the latter type having been released in 1994. The Boeing 747 appears in several airport scenes in the series.