Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Americans (TV series)

Tuesday night I watched the last episode of what has been, arguably, the best show on US TV for some six years. It is ironically titled The Americans, about a gifted pair of Soviet spies In the Reagan era, who have cunningly assumed an almost impenetrable American identity and operate out of Washington, DC. 
At first it seemed that the couple was going to go back to the Soviet Union, because the stress was too great; then they seemed to decide to stay. 
This series resonated on a number of levels. First, there is the ever-fragile sense of identity. Are we who we appear to be? Can it be that we are actually imposters, uncertain of how long we can sustain the masquerade? 
Then there is the trip back to the Cold War era (the creators of the show have denied that it has anything to do with the current fuss over Russia). 
Finally, I related to the show, based on my personal experience. In the 1930s my stepfather had joined the Communist Party, converting my mother (and me for a time) to his beliefs, Working for the US government as he did, my stepfather judged it prudent to let his CPUSA membership lapse. But we kept the faith by carefully reading the party organ The Daily Peoples World, which was Stalinist through and through. 
As with Paige in the TV series, my parents instructed me to say nothing to my schoolmates about these beliefs - somewhat hard because my best friend was also a red-diaper baby. At length I emancipated myself from my parents' allegiance. 
In retrospect this was a useful lesson in skepticism regarding all such projects for social utopianism.


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