The 1980s were a perilous time. The Internet did not exist yet, so at least two-thirds of teenage sexual exploration had to take place with Sears’ Catalogs or actual other people. Add shoulder pads and the threat of nuclear armageddon and a communist invasion, and it’s amazing we survived until technology gave us the ability to not make human contact for the rest of our lives.
FX has a new series set in that wasteland of cocaine and Reagan nostalgia, called “The Americans”, which is funny because the characters aren’t actually American, they’re Russian spies. Goddamn you Felicity, making us love you and you’re actually a goddamned Red:
Seriously? “All is fair in love and cold war” is the tagline? I expect more of you than that FX.
Let’s run down the pros and cons. The pros are that it’s got a good cast, an interesting premise, and a network that has a good track record for dark edged shows that would never fit in on the broadcast networks. On the other hand, it’s set in the eighties and I think that has the potential for being constantly, relentlessly, unintentionally hilarious.
Also, the show plays for the easy paranoia: oh noes, the commies have infiltrated us with tons of unidentifiable spies! But the reality is that such spies were exceedingly rare on either side. Getting people who speak the language and can live in the culture like an actual native is just this side of impossible. And not worth the effort when recruiting spies was such a depressingly mundane task. It involved money. We never needed to be infiltrated, when there was always someone willing to take a few peanuts. Now that’s a darker take on Cold War espionage, but it doesn’t lead to quite as many thrilling knife fights between pretty people.