FX launched 20 years ago, in June of 1994, with the tagline “The World’s First Living Television Network.” fX, as it was stylized back then, divided its programming in two categories: repeats of classics (Batman, Eight Is Enough) and original shows broadcast live (Sound fX, The Pet Department). fX tried to be an interactive and Internet-friendly network, even devoting an entire show — Backchat — to answering emails. That version failed, but the experimentation was telling — it’s a network that has always wanted to be a step ahead of the rest.
2002 was when FX came into its own after introducing original dramas. The network specifically targeted men 18-49 — it still does, and without subtlety; the otherwise great Fargo adaptation is far more male-centric than the movie, and the network passed on Broad City (which went on to become one of the funniest new shows of the season) — while its new brother network, FXX, targets ages 18-35. FXX is a good idea in theory, but it isn’t available in many cable packages, meaning viewers could no longer watch the FX comedies that switched over, and there weren’t enough originals to anchor FXX, resulting in months of only syndicated programs. Neither network has a distinct identity or tons of originals, but combined, there are plenty of gems in their lineups. Here are the FX and FXX shows you should be watching.
I once considered Archer to be the funniest show on television because it had more laughs per minute than anything else I watched. From the wildly creative mind of Adam Reed (who pens nearly all the episodes by himself), Archer is an animated comedy about an anachronistic spy agency with episodes ranging from trigger-happy espionage missions to just workplace humor.
The one-liners are great, but I’ve always been more impressed at the mileage Archer gets out of wordplay and editing; a character will start a sentence and, after a quick cut, another character will finish it — in a different location and in a different context. It’s so smart that it’s almost frustrating to watch. Admittedly, episodes began to feel a bit stale last season, but after rebooting to Archer: Vice, the show reinvented itself and, once again, proved how funny it could be. Archer was renewed for a sixth and seventh season, and the next will un-reboot and put the characters back at ISIS. Whatever the show becomes in the future, I firmly believe that, at its core, it will always remain a story about friendship between a man and an ocelot.