We Binge-Watched Archer And This Is What We Learned About Self-Esteem


When you think of Archer, or really any series in FX's lineup, women's lib doesn't exactly spring to mind. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the animated show, Sterling Archer, the main character, is a man-whore of a spy with mommy issues. He works with a group of severely dysfunctional individuals at an intelligence firm run by said mother. Female characters are hypersexualized. Gender stereotypes are de rigueur. High-brow humor everywhere. Everyone is an alcoholic. Elitism is the new black. There's sex addiction. There's glue sniffing. You get the idea. I mean, really this show is an equal-opportunity offender. But once you get past the racism, and sexism, and wildly inappropriate nature of the show, you'll stumble across some real gems of social commentary about human behavior.

Case in point: Season 2, Episode 7: Movie Star.

Here, we meet Rona Thorne (voiced by Rachael Harris, aka Melissa from The Hangover, aka Sheila from Suits), the busty blonde A-lister with a toy chihuahua and a wicked penchant for overusing "AMAY-ZINGGG." Despite the character's tired, stereotypical "dumb Hollywood actress" schtick, Thorne accurately assesses Lana's low self-esteem issue that was the prerequisite for Lana dating a womanizer like Archer (or maybe that's also part of the stereotype...).

Lana: Can you BELIEVE I used to date him?

Rona: Yes.
Lana: And — wait, what?
Rona: And I bet he cheated on you.
Lana: Well, er...
Rona: Just like I bet every one of your boyfriends has, going all the way back to... Sorry, but I assume you were just an insanely gawky teenager?
Lana: Eh, yeah, there was some mild gawkiness —
Rona: Which you never got over, which is why—please don't hate me—you're like, teeming with insecurities...
[Lana laughs nervously]
Rona: ...Which you totally shouldn't be.
Lana, defiantly: I'm NOT.
Rona: You're gorgeous. And smart. And ohmygod, have you read "Unleashing the Me"?! By Reinhart Schmoll?
Lana: Uh, I haven't.
Rona: Oooh! You have to read it! Take my copy, it’ll change your life. Oh! And you have to start keeping a journal of — hey, where’s my journal?
[And the episode continues from there. More asinine Archer shenanigans. More racism. More sexism. More inappropriateness. Yadda, yadda.]
We pick up Lana and Rona's convo a bit later in the epi:
Rona: You just have to find the right guy who's not intimidated by your power.
Lana: Or my twin Tec-9's
Rona: Or those big steam-shoveling scoops you call hands.
Lana: What?!
Rona: I'm kidding! Look, look at me. That's the gawky, six-foot teenager everybody cheats on, not the embodiment of sexy empowered womanhood that you've become!
Lana: You really think I'm sexy and empowered?
Rona: You're like a brown Boudica.

A couple things to be learned here:

1) Everybody has their issue. It doesn't matter how "hot" this society perceives you to be, how smart, funny, accomplished, successful, sensual, popular, authentic, or nice. Every single one of us has a weak point. A limiting belief set, a fear (or fears), a lie someone told us about ourselves that we believed. You are not alone in that.

And 2) The only way to strengthen a weakness like that is to substitute internal validation for the external validation to which we've all become so accustomed and addicted (ahem, social media high, much?). When you start measuring yourself up to YOUR OWN version of your best self — the person you truly want to be — and not one someone else has created, or one that our culture has dictated, your self-confidence flourishes. Lana hasn't quite mastered this step — in the scene, she's still asks Rona to confirm her worthiness — but I have faith that she'll get there...

Everyone has their weak point. Find yours. Embrace it. Strengthen it. Then it won't have as much control over your decisions, dating or otherwise. And you'll start making better ones.