When FX debuted its first two original comedy series in 2005, the network immediately set its tone for humor: absurd, edgy and darkly funny. Though "Starved," following four friends with eating disorders, was soon canceled, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," about a group of degenerate pals running a bar in South Philly, is a cult hit entering its tenth season.
The cartoonish depravity of the "Sunny" gang has become an FX comedy hallmark of sorts; fittingly, two animated series, "Archer" and "Chozen," are keeping that tradition strong. Here's a primer on the latest in the network's lineup of bizarre hilarity.
Why we're watching Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin, a.k.a. the voice of the can of veggies from "Wet Hot American Summer," among many, many other roles) is a James Bond type who works for the spy organization ISIS, run by his mother (Jessica Walter). It's a high-stakes workplace comedy — except this season, the FBI has shut down the ISIS offices, and the team is now operating as a drug cartel. "International spying is very similar to international drug-dealing," Benjamin wryly points out.
Yeah, they went there Lana (Aisha Tyler), Archer's partner/sometimes girlfriend, is pregnant, but the team's most competent spy continues to put herself in harm's way for the sake of her coworkers. "We have an awesome baby shower for her," hints executive producer Matt Thompson. "Kenny Loggins is involved." Adds series creator Adam Reed: "He plays a terrible, bastardy version of himself. "He calls himself K-Log." "Archer" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on FX.
Why we're watching Chozen (Bobby Moynihan) is a wannabe rapper who is trying to assimilate back into society after a 10-year prison stint. The lyrics resulting from Chozen's journey are nothing short of ridiculous. "I like [the song] 'Sex and Murder' — you know, dead people have sex and then they murder," says Method Man, who voices the character Phantasm, but leaves the songwriting and rapping to the show's creator, Grant Dekernion. "That's cold blooded."
Yeah, they went there The fact that Chozen happens to be a white gay rapper opens the door for even more politically incorrect jokes. Method Man says that's partially why he joined the show. "It's making fun of hip hop. It's making fun of gay people," he says. "It's making fun of just the audacity of some of the artists that think they're … on these pedestals and nothing can touch them. You gotta knock people off their horse every now and then, you know?"
Why it Works "Chozen" producer Danny McBride says he loves creating "dangerous comedy" that takes characters the audience typically wouldn't root for and peels away layers to reveal truths that make them relatable. "If you can get people laughing at stuff that they really normally don't laugh at, I think there's something divine in that," he says.