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Is TV's New Cold-War Spy Thriller Anti-American? Producer Admits 'We Want You to Root for the KGB


For the last few weeks, Americans watching "The Americans" on the FX Network might have found themselves rooting against their own country -- and that's what the series executives want.

Executive Producer Joel Fields told The Hollywood Reporter, "It might be a little different to believe and get used to, but we want you to root for the KGB."

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Fields said he realizes this will be hard for some to accept but the producers feel enough time has passed for it to be successful as a concept for the series.

"If you tried to tell a story like this about al-Qaeda now, it would be impossible; no one would want to hear it," Fields said according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I feel even the same could have been said up to 10 years after the Cold War ended."

The main characters, played by Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, are Russian spies planted in Washington, D.C., during the Cold War era at the time of Ronald Reagan's presidency. They fit into American society perfectly, living a facade with two children who know nothing of their undercover operations to steal information about America for the KGB.

Keri Russell plays Elizabeth in "The Americans" (Photo: FX)

Watch this trailer for the show:

Viewers might find themselves on their edge of their seat during certain scenes though, hoping the spies aren't caught in the act. At one point in the first episode, which premiered Jan. 30, Russell's character, Elizabeth, also laments what her children are learning in school and says she believes they could still grow up to be socialists.

“This place doesn’t turn out socialists,” Rhys retorts back to Russell.

Matthew Rhys as Phillip in "The Americans" (Photo: FX)

Given the theme of rooting for the anti-hero, which is nothing new to movies or television, Dave Martindale for the Star Telegram wrote that "our loyalties are sure to be challenged," between the sleeper cells and the FBI agent who recently moved into their suburban neighborhood.

The New York Times reported actor Noah Emmerich, who plays the FBI counterintelligence agent that finds his new neighbors a bit "off," saying the series questions what we think of patriotism, the concept of the "enemy" as it highlights the “ambiguity about who you’re supposed to be rooting for."

Or as Andy Greenwald for Grantland wrote as part of his positive review of the show, "Despite its clever, propaganda-themed promotional art, The Americans doesn't turn our flag upside down; it merely replaces the red, white, and blue with an intoxicating shade of gray."

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