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 ago which was a real attack. The attack took place in 1989 which places the story roughly around 1991.
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.)
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.
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, on the other hand, 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 "Mole Hunt" Cheryl is crying because Archer stood her up. His excuse for standing her up was because he helped a guy with cancer like in Brian's Song meaning if it was the original movie it places the time after 1971 or after 2001.
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 AVP Requiem a predator hunts in the city and in AVP the predators hunt in a temple in an island near Antarctica. This would mean Archer has not seen any of these movies or more likely they haven't been made yet. This puts the show after 1987 but 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 was released in theaters in 1994, placing Archer in '94 or later.
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 to today's computers, although they seem capable of doing the same things as modern day computers.
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 bitcoins and onion routing.
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 lightbulbs, 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.
One can see the charecterisic 60's era technology in the episode "Jeu Monegasque" which feature 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 wide variety of time periods. Some of the more recent weapons that appear are the TEC-9 which was 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 1993-2014.
- 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