My new addiction
It’s been a while since I’ve had a TV show I really look forward to. Homeland hasn’t worked for me because I don’t find the characters to be at all likeable, but I’m still giving it a chance. 30 Rock is gone. Modern Family never hooked me. I find it funny, but not addicting. Same with Parks and Recreation. Meh. I really like Justified, but I’m way behind and watching it on Netflix. Same with Walking Dead. I do like Louie, but it’s short and has so few episodes; it’s more of an aperitif than a meal. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I never got past the pilot of Breaking Bad. I had no time for it and it just seemed soooo dark. But I will do that one some day. But in the last few weeks, I’ve found my new show.
It’s not the best made show ever, but for several reasons, I have finally realized that this is my new favorite show.
Reason 1: It takes place in my historical wheelhouse, 1981. I was just a fuzzy-faced freshman in college that year. It was the height of the Cold War. Ronald Reagan was just elected. The makers of the show do not skimp on music for this show. Whatever they’ve saved by not having big stars on the show, they are spending on music licensing. During the pilot episode, they had a chase scene to Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” — without a doubt, one of my favorite guilty pleasure songs.
Reason 2: No huge stars. Well, it has a few recognizable folks. Come on, Felicity as a Russian spy? I’m in, right there. Her “husband” is a guy I’ve never seen. He’s not imposing physically, but he is bad-ass when he has to be. The FBI agent who lives across the street is the guy who played the best friend in Truman. The head of the FBI division is John Boy from The Waltons. Other than that, the show is mainly staffed by no-names. And I like that.
Reason 3: Felicity as a Russian spy. This can’t be overstated.
Reason 4: The family dynamics. I never realized there was so much family drama to plum in a Cold War spy story. It’s better than the spy stuff. First, you have the Russian couple, living as normal Americans with two kids who have no idea about their parents’ real jobs. Of course they don’t because a ten year old would never be able to keep that kind of secret. Mom is concerned about the propaganda her her kids are learning about the Soviet Union in their history classes. Dad is sort of jealous that his son idolizes an astronaut — a true American hero — while he is trying to undermine the country. They also worry about what will happen to their kids if they are killed or arrested.
And then there is the couple’s dynamic. They married and had kids for the mission, not love. They both use sex freely to compromise sources and acquire information. But jealousy is beginning to surface as the couple discovers that they might have actual feelings for each other. Plus, the husband is sort of digging the American experience, while his wife is a true Soviet believer.
Reason 5: Across the street, the FBI agent’s family is no Norman Rockwell painting. He is suspicious of everything. His workaholic nature is damaging his marriage. And now his son is spending more and more time with the daughter of Soviet spies. Of course, he doesn’t know they are spies… yet. But he knows that Russians are in the country living as Americans, and let’s just say that his spidey sense is raising suspicions.
Reason 6: I like the way it weaves in real people and events. When Reagan is shot, spies on both sides go into a panic trying to determine if it was the work of the Russians. When Alexander Haig announces that he is “in control” (and not the Vice President), the Russians suspect a military coup and start digging up their rifles to prepare for battle. Our two spies lean on Secretary of State Casper Weinberger’s maid by poisoning her son and offering her the antidote that will save him. To get the antidote, though, she must plant a bug in Casper’s library. Now, there are rumors of a missile defense system. It’s all very cool stuff.
Reason 7: The web of espionage. The Russians have a source in the FBI. The FBI has a source in the Russian embassy. Both sides are adept at compromising people with weaknesses and then turning the screws to get them to play ball. Both sides know they are infiltrated. It provides for lots of plot turns and worrying about who is going to be exposed or compromised. Believe me, Felicity will put a bullet in your head without even blinking.
Reason 8: The Russians are masters of disguise. In the very first scene of the first episode, I didn’t even realize I was watching Keri Russell until she pulled her wig off.
Reason 8: The writers do a masterful job of sucking you in so that you care about these Russian spies. You don’t necessarily want them to succeed in their plots to destroy America, but you want their marriage to succeed and their family to survive. They are just doing what they believe in. American spies are doing the exact same things on the other side.
Reason 9: Admittedly, espionage stuff (books, movies, shows) is my fav. I read all the Tom Clancy novels. I’m a huge fan of everything Jason Bourne. Anything with spies and agents and cloak and dagger is okay by me. If that isn’t your thing, this show may not be for you.
So, if you’re looking for a new way to waste an hour of your life, there are worse ways.