Television

The Spies Who Hated U.S.

|

In The Americans, a team of deep-cover Russian agents lives in the D.C. area during the Reagan era. They have two kids and a house in a suburban cul-de-sac. At night they put on wigs and run spy ops, stealing classified information, aiding Soviet allies, and occasionally engaging in bloody firefights with FBI agents-one of whom happens to be a friendly neighbor. The spies participate in American life even as they try to ruthlessly undermine it.

The Americans, which entered its third season this year on the FX Network, is a thriller as well as a glossy melodrama about marriage and family. Even more than that, it is a show about the ways that nationalism and ideology can warp one's perspective, making it easy to kill and lie for a totalitarian cause. The show adopts the perspective of its Communist protagonists, but its sympathetic viewpoint only renders the horror of their work more damning.