In August, Rupert Murdoch's FX picked up a Cold War series set in the 1980s titled "The Americans." Liberals might have braced themselves for the worst. It sounded like some kind of Chuck Norris-style "jingoistic" homage to freedom-loving intelligence agents. But this is Hollywood, so the show instead focuses on KGB spies who speak perfect English, working to destroy Reagan-era America, which is not altogether a bad thing to people in Hollywood.
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."
FX president John Landgraf sounded apolitical about it: "We're proud to welcome 'The Americans,' a taut series that crackles with incredible performances rooted in character perspectives never explored on a U.S. television series." But focus on the phrase "character perspectives never explored" as code for "sympathetic communist spy characters," words they cannot bring themselves to say.
This is not the first FX series to deal with spies, only the first drama. The animated adult comedy "Archer," soon to launch its fourth season, is centered on Sterling Archer, a vaguely 1960s-era American spy with the International Secret Intelligence Service. Naturally, this agent is comically inept. Last season, Archer was assigned to guard a prominent KGB defector, but the high-value asset was killed in an explosion while Archer left the building for a sexual encounter with a co-worker.
FX is a network stuffed with antiheroes. It has thrived on dramas that glorified corrupt cops ("The Shield"), unethical, oversexed plastic surgeons ("Nip/Tuck"), firemen who rape their wives and pressure their teenage daughters to have sex ("Rescue Me"), mutilating and murderous motorcycle gangs ("Sons of Anarchy") and now domineering, perverted nuns ("American Horror Story: Asylum").
They are not alone. NBC has closed a deal for a pilot about Soviet spies in Israel titled "M.I.C.E." The title is an acronym for Money, Ideology, Coercion and Ego, factors in understanding the motives of spies who betray their own countries.
The show is copied from an Israeli series called "The Gordin Cell." In that show, set in the present, a patriotic and decorated Israeli Air Force officer has no idea his parents were Russian spies. Their handler then appears, demanding they recruit their son into betraying Israel. The officer is left to choose between his family and his country.
Producer Peter Berg (who made "Friday Night Lights" for NBC) said the original plot "lends itself very easily to an American reinvention" as a drama set in the United States. "There are still real issues between the U.S. and Russia -- they're spying on us, we're spying on them."
Somehow the Left can never acknowledge the horrors that the Soviet Union visited upon its own people and the people in its puppet states. No network would ever consider a drama about sympathetic Nazi spies undermining America during World War II. Nazi genocide is inhuman. Communist genocide is not.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center.
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