As FX turns 20, fifteen of TV’s top scribes — from Rescue Me’s Denis Leary to Louie’s Louis C.K. — reveal what it’s like to write for a network that encourages smart TV (almost) without rules as part of a series that The Hollywood Reporter is rolling out this week. This story first appeared in the May 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
In 2008, after having yet another show canceled, I walked the 1,000-kilometer Via de la Plata, which runs from Seville in the south of Spain to Santiago de Compostela in the northwest. On the walk, I was to come up with a new show idea (to satisfy my slavering agents, Matt and Joel). But after 500 kilometers of rain, mud, broiling sun and barking dogs — alternating daily between two sets of clothes and four socks — I was an exhausted, bearded mess.
So I took a much needed laundry/ blister/sanity break in Salamanca, where the main industry, turns out, is breathtakingly, heartbreakingly beautiful women. They are everywhere. So I sat on the Plaza Mayor for three days — drinking either coffee or beer or gin, depending on the time of day — surrounded by these Spanish women who seemed both unaware and completely aware of their beauty. Occasionally they would glance over — and catch me gaping at them — and just smile at me like, “I know, right?” And for three days, I couldn’t even splutter “Buenos dias” to any of them — not once.
And thus was Sterling Archer born — he would’ve absolutely sauntered over to a table full of those women and sat down and ordered an entire case of cava or whatever. I should add that on my last day in Salamanca, a beautiful Spanish woman approached me. She said hello, we talked for a minute, and then she touched my sleeve and asked if I was allowed to wear synthetic fibers and zippers.
When I said: “Yes, of course. Why?” she made the “beard” gesture with her hand — referring to my unfortunately bushy and pumpkin-colored beard — and asked, in the sexiest Spanish-accented English ever, “But are you not one of those, como se dice … Amish people?”
Adam Reed is the creator of and an executive producer on Archer, which aired its fifth-season finale in April.