Are Archer and Justified the Same Show? A Thorough Investigation

Oriana Schwindt
From Left: FX; Byron Cohen/FX

Archer and Justified

Sometime around the end of last season, the thought occurred to us: Archer's Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and Justified's Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) share some intriguing similarities! And then we realized: Those similarities are not limited to the series' protagonists! Finally, we wondered: Are Justified and Archer actually the same show? Here, we present all evidence uncovered in our thorough investigation.

Evidence For

Raylan's a dick who's really good at shooting people. Archer's a dick who's really good at shooting people. The total number of people the two have shot is equivalent to attendance at the Super Bowl. (Not really, it's more like attendance at the Pro Bowl.) Both are employed by the U.S. government: Raylan by the Marshals Service, Archer by the CIA.

From Left: Byron Cohen/FX; FX

Both shows include a black female coworker who is far more competent than our protagonist. Deputy U.S. Marshal Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel) has to suffer Raylan's wanton rulebreaking—here's this tall, good-looking white guy who gets to do everything she's always wanted to do, but would instantly find herself in trouble for doing. Agent Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) constantly has to pick up Codename Duchess' slack because of his appalling lack of mission prep (and you never know when he might go on a months-long bender in some third-world country.)

From Left: FX; Prashant Gupta/FX

Both shows feature confident gay white dudes in a supporting role: Agent Ray Gillette (Archer creator Adam Reed) and Deputy Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts). Well, in Justified's case, the writers won't confirm Gutterson is gay. Sure, he had a line about wanting to die with Sigourney Weaver's thighs wrapped around his head, but talk is just talk.

From Left: Prashant Gupta/FX; FX

Raylan's nemesis is former friend Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins). The two have taken two tragically different paths, and Raylan's onetime girlfriend Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) is now Boyd's fiancée. Archer's nemesis is Barry Dylan (Dave Willis), a fellow secret agent turned KGB operative turned totally bugnuts cyborg; Archer's former fiancée, cyborg Katya, left Archer for Barry.

Plus:

  • Justified had an episode called "Bloody Harlan" (Season 2, Episode 13). Archer had an episode called "Bloody Ferlin" (Season 3, Episode 9). Both involved Appalachian pot growers.
  • Justified writer Chris Provenzano wrote an episode of Archer (Season 4, episode 2).
  • In Justified Season 5, Raylan became a father of a daughter. In Archer Season 5, Archer became a father of a daughter. The mothers of the baby girls were Raylan and Archer's exes: Winona (Natalie Zea) and Lana, respectively.

Evidence Against

  • Raylan's mother, Frances Givens, has been dead for about 20 years. Archer's mother (and boss), Malory (Jessica Walter), is very much alive, and their borderline co-dependent relationship would put a therapist's entire brood through college, if they both didn't scoff at the idea of therapy. Meanwhile, Raylan's ma was much more the nurturing type, a counterbalance to his abusive, small-time crook father, Arlo.
  • Archer and his colleagues only started working for the CIA this season; previously, they were a mercenary spy shop called ISIS (the creators came up with the name long before the terrorist group surfaced).
  • Olyphant guest-voiced on an Archer episode (Season 4, Episode 2). According to TV physics, if Archer and Justified were the same show, this paradox would have ripped a hole in the spacetime continuum, and our universe would have ceased to exist.
  • Archer is an animated comedy. Justified is a live-action drama that happens to be funny.

Now that all the evidence has been laid out, TV Insider has no choice but to conclude: No, FX is not guilty of airing the same show twice. Case closed.

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