I chose to watch an episode of Archer in Season 2. This is one of my favorite shows! I have not watched it for awhile and it was fun to revisit it. In this episode, according to Kurt Vonnegut’s video, Archer is already low on the Y-axis in I (ill-fortune). Then a bomb drops! He might have a son and needs to do a paternity test, therefore Archer drops even lower in ill-fortune as the story progresses on the X-axis. He and his mom plot to change out his blood sample with Cyril, another secret agent in the TV show, so that they can be sure the test will come back negative. Archer starts rising on the Y-axis as the story goes farther on the X-axis. The next day the paternity test comes back… It is positive! Even though Archer switched his blood with Cyril’s blood, so this means that Cyril is the actual father, but no one knows the truth and Archer has no evidence that the blood was changed out. Now Archer has a ton of child support to pay and he drops all the way to the bottom of the Y-axis as the story ends. I tried my best to draw the story progression below:
I believe that this is a Problem-Based storytelling theme. It follows the three parts of the core story that The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media, Chapter 1, “Storytelling for the Twenty-First Century by Bryan Alexander on page 8 says. First, there is the “central challenge”, the question, who’s child is it? It could possibly be three out of the five that Alexander writes about though (a question, a problem, an obstacle). Second, there is the change characters wrestle with. Archer’s mom changes her mind about switching the blood and tells him to raise the little baby. He wrestles with it as well for a little bit, but decides to go with the original plan. Third, there is closure. The test comes back a match, even though it is not Archer’s son.
From all the secret agent theme movies/books/comics I have seen, most seem to follow the problem-based story theme. I think a secret agent story/theme has such a wide spectrum. It could be as original as Jason Bond to a child’s fantasy world of being an undercover agent. I love that after doing research into storytelling, it changed the way I watched Archer.