Joe Weisberg, who worked for more than three years at the CIA, first wrote a script about two CIA case officers stationed in Bulgaria. Fox bought that script, too, but that project was deep-sixed. Boring. But exploring the daily joys and sorrows of undercover Soviet agents, that just thrills the Hollywood Left. Some things never change.
FX couldn't create a series based on real history because that would entail real heroes, and real villains, like CIA traitor Aldrich Ames, who was a drunk who took on a feverishly overspending second wife, and for enough pieces of silver, he sold state secrets to our mortal enemy. There's plenty of drama in that real-life story, but instead FX set out to find nice-looking fictional Marxist-Leninists that Americans could learn to love.
TV Guide previewed the new series, which debuts Jan. 30, like this: "It's the early 1980s, the Cold War rages and President Ronald Reagan's sabre-rattling has the Soviet Union really nervous." The show's writer, Joe Weisberg, let his radicalism out: "Most of us in the U.S. thought Reagan was just being bombastic, but the Soviets thought he was crazy and feared he would initiate a nuclear strike ... This series, to a large extent, is told from the perspective of the KGB and the Soviets. We're making them the sympathetic characters. I'd go so far as to say they're the heroes."
"The Americans" isn't about Americans. It's about heroic defenders of expansionist communist tyranny. The "heroes" are those who killed tens of millions. That's morally sick. But at FX, sickness sells.
The main characters, who are given the names Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, were trained since their teenage years to be communist spies and were placed in an arranged marriage and run a travel agency in northern Virginia as a front. Once placed in America, they have children who have no idea of their treasonous double lives. There's tension in this arranged marriage, since TV Guide explained "she's passionately loyal to the motherland, while he's starting to prefer the American way of life."