Emmy-nominated animated series Archer was originally based on a spy agency called ISIS. However, going forward, the show’s creators will not use that name to refer to the old agency.
For the first five seasons of the show, the name ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service) was used for the now-defunct spy agency. The name is referenced on and off through the different story arcs and changes in direction. However, now variations of the acronym are being used by some media to refer to the Islamic State in ongoing stories about westerners being radicalized and violent crimes including beheading.
The name, Isis, refers to an Egyptian goddess. However, the name clearly has changing connotations. For example, a small retailer in the UK named Isis was targeted on social media by people who threatened to kill the owner unless she changed the name. The owner said people asked whether she named her longstanding store after “those people doing the beheading.” Of course not, but it hurt her business and made headlines.
As such, with many similar stories, the producers have decided to drop ISIS from the sixth season when it starts in January.
“We quietly did,” creator Adam Reed told The Daily Beast. Adding that they’ve changed direction again in the upcoming season. “We were waiting for it to go away—at least I was. Back in Season 5, FX said, ‘This might be a thing,’ and I thought, ‘Maybe it won’t be? Maybe it’ll be the mole that I’m gonna ignore and nothing will happen.’ We got sort of lucky and could organically make a merger with the CIA, so we went back and retroactively painted out the ISIS logos in parts of the show, and we just don’t talk about it in dialogue.”
“We won’t say ISIS anymore, and the only visual representation of it will be that sign rolling off the show,” said executive producer Matt Thompson. “It’s just the most awful thing, and we didn’t want to have anything to do with it. There were people online saying that we should address it and say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe these guys have co-opted our name.’ That’s the way South Park would do it, coming after them and saying, ‘These a**holes stole our name,’ but that’s not the way the Archer universe works, where it’s all our own creations. In our universe, they don’t exist.”
They do not appear to be retroactively scrubbing it from old seasons. However, they have dropped all ISIS merchandise. And there is a LOT of product and lost revenue as it’s probably going to be trashed.
Jessica Walter, who plays Mallory Archer, admitted “I’m one of the few people that has the white ISIS cup and it’s mixed in with all my other cups… The other day, I was looking at it and thought, ‘Should I throw it out? But it reminds me of Archer.’”
Adam adds of his creation, “I gave my Dad one of the ISIS hats and he said, ‘You know son, I’m not going to be able to wear the hat anymore… I’m gettin’ looks at the hardware store.’” He continues, “I was at a meeting with the FX execs and I said, ‘You know, with all this extra ISIS merchandise, you should just make the bad guys buy it.’ Dead silence. And then they said, ‘We have a lot of ISIS merchandise.’ So I guess that’s all going to a landfill somewhere.”