The upcoming spy series "The Americans" follows a KGB team posing as a suburban married couple at the height of the Cold War.
The concept for the series is drawn from the a real-life story which broke in 2010, telling of how sleeper Russian agents had successfully blended into American society for years before being exposed. “That was absolutely the inspiration for the show,” noted creator and executive producer Joe Weisberg, who was himself a CIA agent from 1990-94. “I got a call from DreamWorks TV about trying to create a TV show from that event.”
Weisberg states that setting the series in 1981 was integral to moving forward on the series, as asking viewers to sympathize with KGB agents would have been near impossible during the height of the Communist tensions. “Enough time has passed where people are willing to look with their hearts and try to understand,” he said. “By the same token, trying to tell the story of al-Qaeda now would would be impossible. It’s just too soon.”
The creator drew inspiration for the emotional weight of the series from his own experience as in the CIA. “One specific thing that I never really got over in a way, is how CIA officers can’t tell their kids what they do. Even if they live abroad, they can’t tell their kid because the kid would go and blab it to all of his friends and blow their cover,” he said. “Then maybe when they’re teenagers and old enough to know what mom and dad do for a living, it’s like this big day where they get sat down and told, ‘This is what we’ve kept from you your whole life: We work for the CIA.’ Sometimes, the kids are fine with finding out. Sometimes, it turns their lives into a big mess. But I’d always just found the whole idea incredibly powerful and made me want to go tell the story about the impact this has on a family.”
"The Americans" will premiere January 30th on FX.