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“The Americans” is a spy TV show about two sexy Soviet spies in Reagan Era Washington who get to play dress-up a lot and engage in exciting adventures such as assassinations that never seem to make the local newspapers.

In reality, Soviet spying inside the USA was effective mostly only when the President sympathized with the Communist Party USA: i.e., FDR’s era. CPUSA provided Moscow w/many superb spies in 1930s-40, very few during anti-Communist eras like Reagan’s.

For example, Rudolf Abel, the Soviet spymaster played by Mark Rylance in the recent Spielberg movie “Bridge of Spies,” was a huge success in the 1940s with all sorts of American-born volunteer traitors such as Ted Hall, a New York-born teenage nuclear weapons physics prodigy who spied from Los Alamos for the Soviets. After all, what was so bad about spying for Moscow when the FDR Administration saw Stalin as, while perhaps less personally charming than Churchill, much more on The Right Side of History?

But then came the much denounced McCarthy Era making the CPUSA became disreputable, so Abel had little to do all day except pursue his painting hobby.

 
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  1. But then came the much denounced McCarthy Era making the CPUSA become disreputable…

    And McCarthy hasn’t been forgiven since.

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  2. JMcG says:

    The subject of traitorous communist spying is one which seems to genuinely anger our host. It angers me as well, a great deal. Is there any likelihood that a consensus will emerge on Oppenheimer’s possible involvement in divulging atomic secrets?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mr. Anon

    Is there any likelihood that a consensus will emerge on Oppenheimer’s possible involvement in divulging atomic secrets?
     
    I believe there already is a general consensus about Oppenheimer's involvement in divulging atomic secrets; the consensus is that he did not do so. Are you aware of any evidence to the contrary? Sudoplatov claimed that he did, but nobody other than he and his ghost-writers believed it.
    , @Haxo Angmark
    best book I know on the Manhatten Project is Greg Herken's Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller (NY, 2002).

    the author provides convincing evidence that Oppenheimer maintained membership in a sub rosa communist cell throughout the Project and, while not himself a spy, covered for Hall, Fuchs, and several other for real Soviet agents. As to no-nukes, Oppenheimer sided with Teller (vs Fermi et al.) and recommended that the weapon be used against Japan.

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  3. John Schindler says the KGB stopped doing “wetwork” in the 50′s.

    And Yuri Bezmenov said that all that James Bond shit was for the rubes; the KGB spent most of their energy on ideological subversion.

    So The Americans must be a load of bollocks.

    It was good TV though, at least for a while; it got boring after a season or two. I remember thinking it suffered especially strongly from the tension between the needs of the story and the needs of the production.

    Most shows suffer from this to some degree or another (and managing it must be a big challenge for the writers). For instance: in Breaking Bad – mild spoiler alert – why does nobody ever simply leave Albuquerque, despite all the extremely compelling reasons for them to do so? There are in-world reasons – and it’s a testament to the quality of the writing that they mostly stick – but the real reason is that the production is already set-up in New Mexico, and it would cost money to move it somewhere else.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Joe Stalin
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbqx9cjd02k
    , @syonredux

    John Schindler says the KGB stopped doing “wetwork” in the 50′s.

     

    Dunno:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Markov#Assassination


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Markov#Later_investigation_and_aftermath


    Of course, the actual wet work was carried out by Bulgarians, so maybe that doesn't count....

    , @Mikhail
    You reminded me to see what happened to the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul, which involves a more interesting main character.

    Here we go:

    http://www.denofgeek.com/us/tv/better-call-saul/265828/better-call-saul-season-4-release-date-trailer-cast-news
    , @AndrewR
    Been a while since I watched BB, but I don't recall ever thinking anything that the show was too Albuquerque-based. There were no shortage of scenes in Mexico, and the fugitive Walt eventually does go far away from Albuquerque. How would you have altered the story? But anyway, you've got to run a drug empire from somewhere. Why not Albuquerque?
    , @Hapalong Cassidy
    “For instance: in Breaking Bad – mild spoiler alert – why does nobody ever simply leave Albuquerque, despite all the extremely compelling reasons for them to do so? There are in-world reasons – and it’s a testament to the quality of the writing that they mostly stick – but the real reason is that the production is already set-up in New Mexico, and it would cost money to move it somewhere else.“

    This problem is even more evident in “Better Call Saul”. From “Breaking Bad” we already know Saul Goodman’s real name is Jimmy McGill and he later changed it. But in the prequel series we find that he was practicing law less than a decade or so earlier than BB, under his real name, in Albuquerque! To top it off, it’s established that his older brother was once one of the most well-known and respected lawyers in the city (if not the state). This would not be a problem if the prequel was set in another city and state. In reality, practically everyone in Albuquerque’s legal community (which being in a small city would be fairly tight-knit) would know exactly who Saul Goodman is and he would not be allowed within 100 miles of a New Mexico court room.

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  4. One of the Atomic spies was Saville Sax (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saville_Sax).

    “NOVA: You read the transcripts of the FBI interrogation of your father. What did you think of it? What feelings did it evoke?”

    His son, Boria Sax, stated:

    “Sax: Well, the FBI files were very disconcerting. They evoked all kinds of buried memories of the time when my parents were constantly shifting from one neighborhood to another, mostly in the slums of Chicago. It was a time of a great deal of insecurity. My father seemed very lost. Now, to an extent, I’m sure some of that was put on or at least emphasized for the purposes of the interview. Yet I think a good deal of it was real. A good deal of it was just talking the way he really felt and giving it a certain kind of spin to evade the questions posed by the FBI officers.”

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/venona/fami_sax.html

    Boria Sax attended Hyde Park High School in Chicago. According to others there that knew him, the US government put tremendous economic pressure on their family. He would go to school with holes in his shoes and his telephone would have strange noises (1960s).

    Read More
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  5. @Matthew McConnagay
    John Schindler says the KGB stopped doing "wetwork" in the 50's.

    And Yuri Bezmenov said that all that James Bond shit was for the rubes; the KGB spent most of their energy on ideological subversion.

    So The Americans must be a load of bollocks.

    It was good TV though, at least for a while; it got boring after a season or two. I remember thinking it suffered especially strongly from the tension between the needs of the story and the needs of the production.

    Most shows suffer from this to some degree or another (and managing it must be a big challenge for the writers). For instance: in Breaking Bad - mild spoiler alert - why does nobody ever simply leave Albuquerque, despite all the extremely compelling reasons for them to do so? There are in-world reasons - and it's a testament to the quality of the writing that they mostly stick - but the real reason is that the production is already set-up in New Mexico, and it would cost money to move it somewhere else.

    Read More
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  6. Twinkie says:

    engage in exciting adventures such as assassinations that never seem to make the local newspapers.

    I watched the show on the recommendation of a friend. I just threw up my hands afterwards and asked him “Why?”

    Aside from many amateur hour stunts such as showing up to a target with the SAME operative twice in a different disguise, the series of murderous violence committed by the protagonists is over-the-top and implausible in the extreme. It violates the whole point of having “illegals.”

    In reality, Soviet spying inside the USA was effective mostly only when the President sympathized with the Communist Party USA… very few during anti-Communist era’s like Reagans.

    Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen were active during the Reagan years.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    In reality, Soviet spying inside the USA was effective mostly only when the President sympathized with the Communist Party USA… very few during anti-Communist era’s like Reagans.

    Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen were active during the Reagan years.
     
    I'm willing to bet that the number of traitors was higher under FDR.....

    Also, Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money....unlike ideologically motivated FDR-era traitors like Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White......
    , @International Jew
    I watched the first two seasons in their entirety, and the occasional implausibilities weren't bad enough to bother me for long. What made me stop was the graphic and gratuitous violence. I'm not an anti-tv-violence crusader, I just hate watching violence.
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  7. Renee was an illegal. I just know it …

    Really wanted to have seen how the show would’ve “stuck the landing” of the Wall coming down, but I s’pose it was not meant to be.

    Loved the show. It will be missed

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    I agree- it was a great show and it'll be missed.

    I am surprised by all the nay-sayers here, it wasn't a historical show, it was a family drama. Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell and Noah Emmerich were amazing leads and the whole cast throughout the six seasons was solid.

    And that ending was devastatingly bittersweet.
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  8. J.Ross says: • Website

    I am creeped out by how smoothly normies accept history-rewriting prestige series like this (or Mad Men) as lightly fictionalized but fundamentally truthful.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Pericles
    True.
    , @MikeatMikedotMike
    I thought stylistically Mad Men was well done, but I found the three female leads to be terribly unlikable. I'd rewatch the show if I could find a version that had all of Peggy and Joan and Betty's boring personal life stuff edited out.

    What did you find historically inaccurate?

    , @fitzGetty
    ... that recent film about Nazi Norway was a useful reminder ... ruled by Berlin for 5 years to 1945 ... even my father was surprised at how successfully this has been expunged from the ‘’’conversation’’’ ...
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  9. Initially I liked the show because it was a cool concept, and I liked the vintage 80s depictions of Washington DC. But they managed to quickly make a cool concept really lame and boring, and then the vintage DC stuff wasn’t enough to carry it.

    The low-light for me was when they went into a sub-plot about how these super secret agents got involved with the weather underground and the black panthers, without sanction from their handlers, because they really really believed in what they were doing… lol

    Read More
    • Replies: @Difference Maker
    With the obligatory black white relationship

    They also evoke the Jewish immigrant experience with the consternation over church life, are we Americans, etc

    , @Twinkie

    I liked the vintage 80s depictions of Washington DC.
     
    Except everything looks like NYC, not DC or Northern Virginia (where the characters supposedly live).
    , @Anon
    I never watched it but the panthers and weather underground were 60s early 70s, not 80s. TV bores me I like to read or cruise the internet instead.
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  10. Last I checked they conveniently left out Soviets and Palestinians

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  11. Mr. Anon says:
    @JMcG
    The subject of traitorous communist spying is one which seems to genuinely anger our host. It angers me as well, a great deal. Is there any likelihood that a consensus will emerge on Oppenheimer’s possible involvement in divulging atomic secrets?

    Is there any likelihood that a consensus will emerge on Oppenheimer’s possible involvement in divulging atomic secrets?

    I believe there already is a general consensus about Oppenheimer’s involvement in divulging atomic secrets; the consensus is that he did not do so. Are you aware of any evidence to the contrary? Sudoplatov claimed that he did, but nobody other than he and his ghost-writers believed it.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Alfa158
    Based on the biographies I’ve read on Oppenheimer, it seems likely that he was not involved in spying, but he also wasn’t particularly worried about it either. The Soviets we’re regarded by Leftists such as himself and his colleagues as people who meant well, and were fighting a common enemy so leakage of physics principles just wasn’t regarded as that big a deal. One of his lovers was an Soviet agent and there were attempts to recruit Oppenheimer, but they never actually turned him.
    Oppenheimer nervetheless was regarded with suspicion because of the leaks, and the way that once the Nazis were no longer a threat, he and others tried to put the brakes on the nuclear weapons program. By then there was too much momentum to stop the bomb from being completed and used, and the fusion bomb was developed without him and many of the no-nukes faction.
    , @JMcG
    No, I’m unaware of any evidence of spying on the part of Oppenheimer, but there sure seems to be a lot of smoke there.
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  12. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    In the French film FAREWELL, it seems like the Soviet spies were working WITH the US.

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  13. @27 year old
    Initially I liked the show because it was a cool concept, and I liked the vintage 80s depictions of Washington DC. But they managed to quickly make a cool concept really lame and boring, and then the vintage DC stuff wasn't enough to carry it.

    The low-light for me was when they went into a sub-plot about how these super secret agents got involved with the weather underground and the black panthers, without sanction from their handlers, because they really really believed in what they were doing... lol

    With the obligatory black white relationship

    They also evoke the Jewish immigrant experience with the consternation over church life, are we Americans, etc

    Read More
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  14. Mr. Anon says:

    I saw the first episode of The Americans and perhaps a little of one or two others soon after. The notion that it reflects any kind of real spy-craft, as I understand it, is pretty laughable. I’m pretty sure that deep-cover agents don’t kidnap defectors and take them back to the garage in their own suburban home and murder them there. It was ridiculously over-the-top. Ultimately, it was probably about as realistic as a 1960s Matt Helm movie.

    Read More
    • Replies: @J.Ross
    The Americans, like so many other shows, is really about retconning female strength for a credulous female audience. Was a detail or method way off? What boy noticed that? The point is that once again, the weak husband got cold feet, and had to be dragged along by stronk wo-man wife.
    , @Rapparee
    I barely remember the plots of the episodes I watched, but this was my impression at the time as well. Nobody's decisions made the least modicum of logical sense, the events were ludicrously implausible, and the characters were nasty and repellent. And everyone was anguished and miserable. At least the silly tongue-in-cheek spy movies of the '60s were fun and light-hearted.
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  15. syonredux says:
    @Matthew McConnagay
    John Schindler says the KGB stopped doing "wetwork" in the 50's.

    And Yuri Bezmenov said that all that James Bond shit was for the rubes; the KGB spent most of their energy on ideological subversion.

    So The Americans must be a load of bollocks.

    It was good TV though, at least for a while; it got boring after a season or two. I remember thinking it suffered especially strongly from the tension between the needs of the story and the needs of the production.

    Most shows suffer from this to some degree or another (and managing it must be a big challenge for the writers). For instance: in Breaking Bad - mild spoiler alert - why does nobody ever simply leave Albuquerque, despite all the extremely compelling reasons for them to do so? There are in-world reasons - and it's a testament to the quality of the writing that they mostly stick - but the real reason is that the production is already set-up in New Mexico, and it would cost money to move it somewhere else.

    John Schindler says the KGB stopped doing “wetwork” in the 50′s.

    Dunno:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Markov#Assassination

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Markov#Later_investigation_and_aftermath

    Of course, the actual wet work was carried out by Bulgarians, so maybe that doesn’t count….

    Read More
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  16. syonredux says:
    @Twinkie

    engage in exciting adventures such as assassinations that never seem to make the local newspapers.
     
    I watched the show on the recommendation of a friend. I just threw up my hands afterwards and asked him "Why?"

    Aside from many amateur hour stunts such as showing up to a target with the SAME operative twice in a different disguise, the series of murderous violence committed by the protagonists is over-the-top and implausible in the extreme. It violates the whole point of having "illegals."

    In reality, Soviet spying inside the USA was effective mostly only when the President sympathized with the Communist Party USA... very few during anti-Communist era’s like Reagans.
     
    Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen were active during the Reagan years.

    In reality, Soviet spying inside the USA was effective mostly only when the President sympathized with the Communist Party USA… very few during anti-Communist era’s like Reagans.

    Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen were active during the Reagan years.

    I’m willing to bet that the number of traitors was higher under FDR…..

    Also, Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money….unlike ideologically motivated FDR-era traitors like Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White……

    Read More
    • Replies: @J.Ross
    Good point; the Falcon and the Snowman don't really count do they?
    , @Twinkie

    Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money
     
    Doesn't matter why. They did enormous damage.

    I’m willing to bet that the number of traitors was higher under FDR…..
     
    Probably so. Then again, back then there was still fantasy in many quarters that the Soviet Union might actually be a worker' paradise. By the Reagan years, it was pretty clear what life was like in the Soviet Union.
    , @Mr. Anon

    Also, Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money….
     
    Although they were paid, I suspect there was more at work there than just greed. Most people aren't going to take chances like that just for money. Perhaps they were doing it out of a sense of wounded pride, avenging themselves on the bureacracy which passed them over and didn't value them. Mind you, the bureacracies in question might have been right to have done so.

    Anyone familiar with the workings of the civil service has seen such people - men with thwarted careers (rightly or wrongly) who have an enormous chip on their shoulder. Most men will never act on it, but take away some risk aversion, add in some greed, and the skillful manipulation of a soviet spy-handler, and you can get an Ames or a Hanssen.
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  17. J.Ross says: • Website
    @syonredux

    In reality, Soviet spying inside the USA was effective mostly only when the President sympathized with the Communist Party USA… very few during anti-Communist era’s like Reagans.

    Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen were active during the Reagan years.
     
    I'm willing to bet that the number of traitors was higher under FDR.....

    Also, Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money....unlike ideologically motivated FDR-era traitors like Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White......

    Good point; the Falcon and the Snowman don’t really count do they?

    Read More
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  18. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Mr. Anon
    I saw the first episode of The Americans and perhaps a little of one or two others soon after. The notion that it reflects any kind of real spy-craft, as I understand it, is pretty laughable. I'm pretty sure that deep-cover agents don't kidnap defectors and take them back to the garage in their own suburban home and murder them there. It was ridiculously over-the-top. Ultimately, it was probably about as realistic as a 1960s Matt Helm movie.

    The Americans, like so many other shows, is really about retconning female strength for a credulous female audience. Was a detail or method way off? What boy noticed that? The point is that once again, the weak husband got cold feet, and had to be dragged along by stronk wo-man wife.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    The point is that once again, the weak husband got cold feet, and had to be dragged along by stronk wo-man wife.
     
    Although that can be looked at another way too - that men are capable of moderation and abstract thinking about principles while females - once in - tend to be "true believers."
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  19. Twinkie says:
    @syonredux

    In reality, Soviet spying inside the USA was effective mostly only when the President sympathized with the Communist Party USA… very few during anti-Communist era’s like Reagans.

    Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen were active during the Reagan years.
     
    I'm willing to bet that the number of traitors was higher under FDR.....

    Also, Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money....unlike ideologically motivated FDR-era traitors like Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White......

    Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money

    Doesn’t matter why. They did enormous damage.

    I’m willing to bet that the number of traitors was higher under FDR…..

    Probably so. Then again, back then there was still fantasy in many quarters that the Soviet Union might actually be a worker’ paradise. By the Reagan years, it was pretty clear what life was like in the Soviet Union.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money

    Doesn’t matter why. They did enormous damage.
     
    I think that motives are of interest......For example, comparing FDR-era traitors to ones in the '70s and '80s, one could argue that ideology trumps money when it comes to motivating large numbers of people to betray their country....
    , @Samuel Skinner

    Probably so. Then again, back then there was still fantasy in many quarters that the Soviet Union might actually be a worker’ paradise. By the Reagan years, it was pretty clear what life was like in the Soviet Union.
     
    I think you are attributing too much to rational calculation. The better answer is that the USSR was to the left of the US in the 1920s and 30s and the United States shifted left afterwards to the point where you could argue the US was more left wing socially.
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  20. Twinkie says:
    @27 year old
    Initially I liked the show because it was a cool concept, and I liked the vintage 80s depictions of Washington DC. But they managed to quickly make a cool concept really lame and boring, and then the vintage DC stuff wasn't enough to carry it.

    The low-light for me was when they went into a sub-plot about how these super secret agents got involved with the weather underground and the black panthers, without sanction from their handlers, because they really really believed in what they were doing... lol

    I liked the vintage 80s depictions of Washington DC.

    Except everything looks like NYC, not DC or Northern Virginia (where the characters supposedly live).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Bugg
    A lot of the urban exteriors for the show were NYC. And CGI lets you do a lot of background with a green screen. Seriously doubt any of the finale was actually filmed in Moscow. It still got the 1980s images mostly correct.
    , @Anon
    They did some filming this year outside my office in NYC. Street salted with late model cars with DC plates. Can't say if the UWS looks like DC, but there sure were a lot of pro-soviet Jewish liberals around....
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  21. syonredux says:
    @Twinkie

    Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money
     
    Doesn't matter why. They did enormous damage.

    I’m willing to bet that the number of traitors was higher under FDR…..
     
    Probably so. Then again, back then there was still fantasy in many quarters that the Soviet Union might actually be a worker' paradise. By the Reagan years, it was pretty clear what life was like in the Soviet Union.

    Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money

    Doesn’t matter why. They did enormous damage.

    I think that motives are of interest……For example, comparing FDR-era traitors to ones in the ’70s and ’80s, one could argue that ideology trumps money when it comes to motivating large numbers of people to betray their country….

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Ideologically motivated spies like Klaus Fuchs, Ted Hall, Kim Philby, Alger Hiss, and Harry Dexter White are really bad news because they aren't the usual weak, corrupt crooks like Aldrich Ames, they are top men.
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  22. FDR’s administration was crawling with Soviet agents and fellow travelers, and so was the era. What really changed in the 50′s and beyond was that the Soviets could get so much intelligence from public sources that they were in the past only getting from spying. The US was as open as the USSR was closed. Agents made up stories about how they came by the information to keep the good life going. Plus they had the media and academia pulling for them with no strings attached.

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  23. Anon[274] • Disclaimer says:
    @The Only Catholic Unionist
    Renee was an illegal. I just know it ...

    Really wanted to have seen how the show would've "stuck the landing" of the Wall coming down, but I s'pose it was not meant to be.

    Loved the show. It will be missed

    I agree- it was a great show and it’ll be missed.

    I am surprised by all the nay-sayers here, it wasn’t a historical show, it was a family drama. Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell and Noah Emmerich were amazing leads and the whole cast throughout the six seasons was solid.

    And that ending was devastatingly bittersweet.

    Read More
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  24. Alfa158 says:
    @Mr. Anon

    Is there any likelihood that a consensus will emerge on Oppenheimer’s possible involvement in divulging atomic secrets?
     
    I believe there already is a general consensus about Oppenheimer's involvement in divulging atomic secrets; the consensus is that he did not do so. Are you aware of any evidence to the contrary? Sudoplatov claimed that he did, but nobody other than he and his ghost-writers believed it.

    Based on the biographies I’ve read on Oppenheimer, it seems likely that he was not involved in spying, but he also wasn’t particularly worried about it either. The Soviets we’re regarded by Leftists such as himself and his colleagues as people who meant well, and were fighting a common enemy so leakage of physics principles just wasn’t regarded as that big a deal. One of his lovers was an Soviet agent and there were attempts to recruit Oppenheimer, but they never actually turned him.
    Oppenheimer nervetheless was regarded with suspicion because of the leaks, and the way that once the Nazis were no longer a threat, he and others tried to put the brakes on the nuclear weapons program. By then there was too much momentum to stop the bomb from being completed and used, and the fusion bomb was developed without him and many of the no-nukes faction.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jack D
    Oppenheimer was under suspicion even during the war because of his known Communist links (his brother, his mistress, etc. - academia has been leftist for a long time) but since the Soviets were our Allies and since Oppenheimer was invaluable to the Manhattan Project they let it slide. The right wing, goyish and high secrecy culture of the military was always in tension with the leftist, Jewish and open culture of the academics recruited to Los Alamos - they were like oil and water. Despite tapping his phone, following him around, etc. they never found any proof that he was giving information to the Soviets. Once the Cold War began and Oppenheimer was no longer needed, his enemies got his security clearance taken away which was a humiliation. Oppenheimer was only rehabilitated (by LBJ) when he was already a dying man.
    , @Mr. Anon
    Although he probably still had left/liberal sympathies, Oppenheimer had become disillusioned with the Soviet Union, and perhaps with communism entirely, by the time he was picked to lead the bomb development effort at Los Alamos.

    And, as Jack D pointed out upthread, Oppenheimer was pretty intensively surveiled during the War, and no evidence was ever turned up that he spied or abetted spying. In fact, when his friend Haakon Chevalier tried to induce him to pass information on to the Soviets, Oppenheimer reported the incident to project security personnel, although he initially shielded the identity of who had made the approach.

    Oppenheimer didn't exactly put the brakes on the development of the A-bomb. He may have had some qualms after Germany surrendered and it became obvious that the War was coming to an end. Ultimately he endorsed using the weapon, over the objections of many of his project scientists. And he lived with that decision, very uneasily, for the rest of his life.
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  25. @Twinkie

    engage in exciting adventures such as assassinations that never seem to make the local newspapers.
     
    I watched the show on the recommendation of a friend. I just threw up my hands afterwards and asked him "Why?"

    Aside from many amateur hour stunts such as showing up to a target with the SAME operative twice in a different disguise, the series of murderous violence committed by the protagonists is over-the-top and implausible in the extreme. It violates the whole point of having "illegals."

    In reality, Soviet spying inside the USA was effective mostly only when the President sympathized with the Communist Party USA... very few during anti-Communist era’s like Reagans.
     
    Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen were active during the Reagan years.

    I watched the first two seasons in their entirety, and the occasional implausibilities weren’t bad enough to bother me for long. What made me stop was the graphic and gratuitous violence. I’m not an anti-tv-violence crusader, I just hate watching violence.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Twinkie

    I just hate watching violence.
     
    I don't mind watching violence if it serves purpose intelligently. "Illegals" engaging in direct action is stupid. Their purpose is to blend into their roles and gather intelligence. Murder and mayhem draw attention.
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  26. @syonredux

    Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money

    Doesn’t matter why. They did enormous damage.
     
    I think that motives are of interest......For example, comparing FDR-era traitors to ones in the '70s and '80s, one could argue that ideology trumps money when it comes to motivating large numbers of people to betray their country....

    Ideologically motivated spies like Klaus Fuchs, Ted Hall, Kim Philby, Alger Hiss, and Harry Dexter White are really bad news because they aren’t the usual weak, corrupt crooks like Aldrich Ames, they are top men.

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    • Agree: syonredux
    • Replies: @dearieme
    Approximate quotation from Max Hastings: "I'm fed up of hearing about the Cambridge Five. What about the Washington and Berkeley Five Hundred?"
    , @CK
    Hiss and White were FDR's advisors at Tehran and Yalta.
    Their influence allowed/informed FDR's belief that the USSR armies were
    on their last legs and could in no way do a 180 and move from Berlin to Manchuria in 90 days.
    So FDR demanded of Stalin that the USSR attack the Japanese armies in Manchuria within 90 days of the German surrender in Europe or USSR would have no say in the Asian peace process. ( I think Joe must have really stifled a guffaw under his stache at that one since GB and the USA had done about as little as possible both before and after D-Day to alleviate the load the Russian Army had carried for 4 years.) " Reluctantly" Stalin agreed.
    89 days after the German surrender, the USSR declared war on Japan and launched the largest and most successful double pincers attack the world has ever seen.
    Within twelve days the USSR had destroyed the Japanese army in Manchuria. Done two amphibious landings on Sakhalin Island and the Kuril islands and were preparing an invasion of Hokkaido Island which the Japanese had no defenses for.
    And the Russian army made it half way down the Korean peninsula before if so far overran its supply lines that it literally had to stop and wait for refuel.
    The Russians had a seat at the Asian peace talks and they also had direct supply lines to Mao and his armies which led to the defeat of Chiang Kai Scheck and "The whole who lost China debate."
    The Kurils are still a point of contention with Japan. And the USA demonstrated that it truly feared the USSR by dropping the second bomb on Nagasaki ( the much less successful bomb since
    Nagasaki was a cement and concrete city while Hiroshima was a much more wooden city).
    The effects of Hiss and White and the other soviet spies still reverberates --- on June 12 President Trump will meet with the leaders of North and South Korea to try to put the beginning of an end to just one of the many problems Hiss and White caused.
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  27. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Matthew McConnagay
    John Schindler says the KGB stopped doing "wetwork" in the 50's.

    And Yuri Bezmenov said that all that James Bond shit was for the rubes; the KGB spent most of their energy on ideological subversion.

    So The Americans must be a load of bollocks.

    It was good TV though, at least for a while; it got boring after a season or two. I remember thinking it suffered especially strongly from the tension between the needs of the story and the needs of the production.

    Most shows suffer from this to some degree or another (and managing it must be a big challenge for the writers). For instance: in Breaking Bad - mild spoiler alert - why does nobody ever simply leave Albuquerque, despite all the extremely compelling reasons for them to do so? There are in-world reasons - and it's a testament to the quality of the writing that they mostly stick - but the real reason is that the production is already set-up in New Mexico, and it would cost money to move it somewhere else.

    You reminded me to see what happened to the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul, which involves a more interesting main character.

    Here we go:

    http://www.denofgeek.com/us/tv/better-call-saul/265828/better-call-saul-season-4-release-date-trailer-cast-news

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  28. Pericles says:
    @J.Ross
    I am creeped out by how smoothly normies accept history-rewriting prestige series like this (or Mad Men) as lightly fictionalized but fundamentally truthful.

    True.

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  29. @JMcG
    The subject of traitorous communist spying is one which seems to genuinely anger our host. It angers me as well, a great deal. Is there any likelihood that a consensus will emerge on Oppenheimer’s possible involvement in divulging atomic secrets?

    best book I know on the Manhatten Project is Greg Herken’s Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller (NY, 2002).

    the author provides convincing evidence that Oppenheimer maintained membership in a sub rosa communist cell throughout the Project and, while not himself a spy, covered for Hall, Fuchs, and several other for real Soviet agents. As to no-nukes, Oppenheimer sided with Teller (vs Fermi et al.) and recommended that the weapon be used against Japan.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JMcG
    Thank you for the reference, I’ll certainly add it to the pile.
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  30. Twinkie says:
    @International Jew
    I watched the first two seasons in their entirety, and the occasional implausibilities weren't bad enough to bother me for long. What made me stop was the graphic and gratuitous violence. I'm not an anti-tv-violence crusader, I just hate watching violence.

    I just hate watching violence.

    I don’t mind watching violence if it serves purpose intelligently. “Illegals” engaging in direct action is stupid. Their purpose is to blend into their roles and gather intelligence. Murder and mayhem draw attention.

    Read More
    • Agree: PV van der Byl
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  31. Twinkie says:
    @J.Ross
    The Americans, like so many other shows, is really about retconning female strength for a credulous female audience. Was a detail or method way off? What boy noticed that? The point is that once again, the weak husband got cold feet, and had to be dragged along by stronk wo-man wife.

    The point is that once again, the weak husband got cold feet, and had to be dragged along by stronk wo-man wife.

    Although that can be looked at another way too – that men are capable of moderation and abstract thinking about principles while females – once in – tend to be “true believers.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @J.Ross
    That's true but I doubt that describes the motives of the writers.
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  32. @Twinkie

    Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money
     
    Doesn't matter why. They did enormous damage.

    I’m willing to bet that the number of traitors was higher under FDR…..
     
    Probably so. Then again, back then there was still fantasy in many quarters that the Soviet Union might actually be a worker' paradise. By the Reagan years, it was pretty clear what life was like in the Soviet Union.

    Probably so. Then again, back then there was still fantasy in many quarters that the Soviet Union might actually be a worker’ paradise. By the Reagan years, it was pretty clear what life was like in the Soviet Union.

    I think you are attributing too much to rational calculation. The better answer is that the USSR was to the left of the US in the 1920s and 30s and the United States shifted left afterwards to the point where you could argue the US was more left wing socially.

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  33. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Twinkie

    The point is that once again, the weak husband got cold feet, and had to be dragged along by stronk wo-man wife.
     
    Although that can be looked at another way too - that men are capable of moderation and abstract thinking about principles while females - once in - tend to be "true believers."

    That’s true but I doubt that describes the motives of the writers.

    Read More
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  34. AndrewR says:
    @Matthew McConnagay
    John Schindler says the KGB stopped doing "wetwork" in the 50's.

    And Yuri Bezmenov said that all that James Bond shit was for the rubes; the KGB spent most of their energy on ideological subversion.

    So The Americans must be a load of bollocks.

    It was good TV though, at least for a while; it got boring after a season or two. I remember thinking it suffered especially strongly from the tension between the needs of the story and the needs of the production.

    Most shows suffer from this to some degree or another (and managing it must be a big challenge for the writers). For instance: in Breaking Bad - mild spoiler alert - why does nobody ever simply leave Albuquerque, despite all the extremely compelling reasons for them to do so? There are in-world reasons - and it's a testament to the quality of the writing that they mostly stick - but the real reason is that the production is already set-up in New Mexico, and it would cost money to move it somewhere else.

    Been a while since I watched BB, but I don’t recall ever thinking anything that the show was too Albuquerque-based. There were no shortage of scenes in Mexico, and the fugitive Walt eventually does go far away from Albuquerque. How would you have altered the story? But anyway, you’ve got to run a drug empire from somewhere. Why not Albuquerque?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Matthew McConnagay
    SPOILERS ABOUND

    Like I said, it's a testament to the quality of the writing that the show didn't feel "too Albuquerque-based". But think about it: Walt's wife goes to flee the situation and move to another state... but changes her mind at the last minute. Walt gets in too deep, and has to flee for his life... only to find that the money he'd use to disappear has disappeared.

    Yes, there are scenes set outside Albuquerque - but note that Hank's promotion doesn't send him to, say, New York, but to El Paso... and the trip to the lair of the South American drug lords sends them to Juarez, not, say, some Colombian jungle... in other words, all the alternate locations can be passably imitated by somewhere within driving distance of Albuquerque.

    The exception is Walt's trip to New Hampshire, but that's only one or two episodes, right at the end - and kudos to the show for making the effort.

    It's not just locations, though, it's other elements too. The cast, for instance: the one minor weak part of the writing on BB was Walt and Jesse's continuing fidelity to each other. It never really made complete sense, but Walt and Jesse had a fun double act - or, to put it another way, the actors had good chemistry - and so they kept Aaron Paul on.

    Looking at other shows, you may have a situation wherein the story is best served by a character being introduced early, but it's cheaper not to cast anybody in the role until later (as happened in Game of Thrones with the Reeds); or you might cast an actor in one role, only to realise that his character can be conflated with another, thus saving money (and putting one of the actors out of work, as also happened in Game of Thrones to poor Roger Allam, who played Illyrio Mopatis in the first season and was never seen again, his future actions being given instead to Varys the Spider); or you might cast an actor and then run out of things for their character to do, but still be contractually obliged to pay them and stick their names on the credits: this happens all the time, but perhaps the best example is Lorraine Bracco in The Sopranos, whose name crops up at the start of every episode but who is barely in the show after the first few seasons.

    But I'm droning on.

    , @LondonBob
    Breaking Bad was supposed to be set in California but it was so much cheaper to shoot it in Albuquerque so they went there, I think there weresubstantial tax breaks for it.
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  35. JMcG says:
    @Haxo Angmark
    best book I know on the Manhatten Project is Greg Herken's Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller (NY, 2002).

    the author provides convincing evidence that Oppenheimer maintained membership in a sub rosa communist cell throughout the Project and, while not himself a spy, covered for Hall, Fuchs, and several other for real Soviet agents. As to no-nukes, Oppenheimer sided with Teller (vs Fermi et al.) and recommended that the weapon be used against Japan.

    Thank you for the reference, I’ll certainly add it to the pile.

    Read More
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  36. JMcG says:
    @Mr. Anon

    Is there any likelihood that a consensus will emerge on Oppenheimer’s possible involvement in divulging atomic secrets?
     
    I believe there already is a general consensus about Oppenheimer's involvement in divulging atomic secrets; the consensus is that he did not do so. Are you aware of any evidence to the contrary? Sudoplatov claimed that he did, but nobody other than he and his ghost-writers believed it.

    No, I’m unaware of any evidence of spying on the part of Oppenheimer, but there sure seems to be a lot of smoke there.

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  37. Sunbeam says:

    From that title I was expecting something like this:

    Incidentally there was some kind of elderly Italian former diplomatty kind of guy who wrote a number of fairly well selling books about 40 years ago. They had names like “The Germans,” “The Americans,” “The British.”

    Kind of thing that sold really well in England I imagine. Anyway I read all of them in my 20′s.

    In retrospect not one iota of value was received from that. But the man had impeccible credentials, style, and on the ground experience.

    Read More
    • Replies: @PV van der Byl
    You may be thinking of Luigi Barzini. As charming a man as he was well-traveled and well-read.
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  38. @AndrewR
    Been a while since I watched BB, but I don't recall ever thinking anything that the show was too Albuquerque-based. There were no shortage of scenes in Mexico, and the fugitive Walt eventually does go far away from Albuquerque. How would you have altered the story? But anyway, you've got to run a drug empire from somewhere. Why not Albuquerque?

    SPOILERS ABOUND

    Like I said, it’s a testament to the quality of the writing that the show didn’t feel “too Albuquerque-based”. But think about it: Walt’s wife goes to flee the situation and move to another state… but changes her mind at the last minute. Walt gets in too deep, and has to flee for his life… only to find that the money he’d use to disappear has disappeared.

    Yes, there are scenes set outside Albuquerque – but note that Hank’s promotion doesn’t send him to, say, New York, but to El Paso… and the trip to the lair of the South American drug lords sends them to Juarez, not, say, some Colombian jungle… in other words, all the alternate locations can be passably imitated by somewhere within driving distance of Albuquerque.

    The exception is Walt’s trip to New Hampshire, but that’s only one or two episodes, right at the end – and kudos to the show for making the effort.

    It’s not just locations, though, it’s other elements too. The cast, for instance: the one minor weak part of the writing on BB was Walt and Jesse’s continuing fidelity to each other. It never really made complete sense, but Walt and Jesse had a fun double act – or, to put it another way, the actors had good chemistry – and so they kept Aaron Paul on.

    Looking at other shows, you may have a situation wherein the story is best served by a character being introduced early, but it’s cheaper not to cast anybody in the role until later (as happened in Game of Thrones with the Reeds); or you might cast an actor in one role, only to realise that his character can be conflated with another, thus saving money (and putting one of the actors out of work, as also happened in Game of Thrones to poor Roger Allam, who played Illyrio Mopatis in the first season and was never seen again, his future actions being given instead to Varys the Spider); or you might cast an actor and then run out of things for their character to do, but still be contractually obliged to pay them and stick their names on the credits: this happens all the time, but perhaps the best example is Lorraine Bracco in The Sopranos, whose name crops up at the start of every episode but who is barely in the show after the first few seasons.

    But I’m droning on.

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    • Replies: @AndrewR
    I like your insights. These are things I've never really thought about. You've honestly changed the way I will analyze TV and films.
    , @theMann
    Ah Breaking Bad, the most absurd and genuinely overrated tv show ever. Binge watched the whole thing once when I was ill, and it is probably what took me so long to recover.

    Two points highlight the ridiculous:
    1. Do you think the DEA would assign a high level agent to Albuquerque who was not fluent in Spanish? Seriously?

    2. Watched it to the bitter end for that glorious episode where WW finally solves 99% of his problems by whacking Jesse Pinkman. Which could have occured from episode #2 onwards. Sheesh....
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  39. Svigor says:

    The Americans is way more interesting for what it says about the left than for what it says about history, or the historical accuracy of the espionage (it’s a spy show – the reality of spying is pretty boring compared to movie spying, and even at its most exciting it’s mostly action-scene-free).

    Philip and Elizabeth are the living embodiment of the central leftist delusion that their ends justify their means. At some point early on, the communists decided they wanted the “God Wills It!” mojo for themselves, and tailored their whole shtick around it.

    The fact is, the two are the absolute worst sort of people. They’re murderers, whores, and everything in-between, but they think of themselves as angels of righteousness (Elizabeth at least; Philip has been the conflicted one). I think the producers figured out early on that showing her seduce and screw her targets was losing her sympathy with the audience, btw, because she took a rather sudden and thoroughgoing Puritan turn after season 1 or so.

    It’s also very interesting for the fine line they’re walking politically. The harder you look at the show, the harder it becomes to see which side the writers are on. They seem to be deliberately pursuing a policy of plausible deniability, in this regard.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Andrew M

    I think the producers figured out early on that ...
     
    One of the fundamental problems of The Americans is that it’s hard to root for Philip and Elizabeth because they’re on the bad side. Only our knowledge that the USA won the Cold War maintains the viewer’s comfort.

    A similar series set today with Chinese or Israeli spies would be much harder to watch, because we’re far less sure that the good guys will win in the end.
    , @Busby
    Overall, it held together pretty well. The boldest choice the producers made was how living in the US as “Americans” for 20 years caused Phillip to soften and Elizabeth to harden. Yes, I know we often joke about “grl power” but in this instance it follows well given Elizabeth’s devotion to the USSR and her training. How they change is, while a bit over played, still plausible.
    , @CJ
    Calling the characters Philip and Elizabeth was too cute by half. After that they might as well have named the children Charles and Anne.
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  40. Never watched the show, not interested in TV that glorifies the frigging evil Soviet Communists.

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    • Agree: Jim Don Bob
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  41. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @27 year old
    Initially I liked the show because it was a cool concept, and I liked the vintage 80s depictions of Washington DC. But they managed to quickly make a cool concept really lame and boring, and then the vintage DC stuff wasn't enough to carry it.

    The low-light for me was when they went into a sub-plot about how these super secret agents got involved with the weather underground and the black panthers, without sanction from their handlers, because they really really believed in what they were doing... lol

    I never watched it but the panthers and weather underground were 60s early 70s, not 80s. TV bores me I like to read or cruise the internet instead.

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  42. Jack D says:

    Abel was done in by his incompetent assistant, the Finnish Soviet Reino Häyhänen. Häyhänen was the classic goyish drunk type of guy, who literally spent the operational funds on alcohol and prostitutes. The entire downfall of the Soviet Union can be explained by competent Jewish (and other Soviet ethnic – Armenian, Georgian, etc.) Communists like Abel being replaced by (mostly Russian) drunks like Häyhänen. I will never forget seeing the Russian generals who mounted the aborted coup against Gorbachev go on TV to declare the coup and they were clearly drunk.

    Abel’s wiki goes into a lot of detail on Reino’s drunken incompetence. Now from an American POV, Abel was the dangerous spy and Reino was ultimately a “good guy”, defecting to our side, but anyone who has had to put up with an incompetent underling (perhaps one hired because of some sort of AA) has to sympathize with poor Rudolf.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Abel#KGB_service

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  43. @J.Ross
    I am creeped out by how smoothly normies accept history-rewriting prestige series like this (or Mad Men) as lightly fictionalized but fundamentally truthful.

    I thought stylistically Mad Men was well done, but I found the three female leads to be terribly unlikable. I’d rewatch the show if I could find a version that had all of Peggy and Joan and Betty’s boring personal life stuff edited out.

    What did you find historically inaccurate?

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    • Replies: @J.Ross

    What did you find to be historically inaccurate in Mad Men?
     
    The stuff in the archive of this blog. It's been a focus of Steve's for years. Tldr the show creator tells anyone who will listen that his inspiration for the show is wallpaper-munching hatred of WASP straw men.
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  44. Andrew M says:
    @Svigor
    The Americans is way more interesting for what it says about the left than for what it says about history, or the historical accuracy of the espionage (it's a spy show - the reality of spying is pretty boring compared to movie spying, and even at its most exciting it's mostly action-scene-free).

    Philip and Elizabeth are the living embodiment of the central leftist delusion that their ends justify their means. At some point early on, the communists decided they wanted the "God Wills It!" mojo for themselves, and tailored their whole shtick around it.

    The fact is, the two are the absolute worst sort of people. They're murderers, whores, and everything in-between, but they think of themselves as angels of righteousness (Elizabeth at least; Philip has been the conflicted one). I think the producers figured out early on that showing her seduce and screw her targets was losing her sympathy with the audience, btw, because she took a rather sudden and thoroughgoing Puritan turn after season 1 or so.

    It's also very interesting for the fine line they're walking politically. The harder you look at the show, the harder it becomes to see which side the writers are on. They seem to be deliberately pursuing a policy of plausible deniability, in this regard.

    I think the producers figured out early on that …

    One of the fundamental problems of The Americans is that it’s hard to root for Philip and Elizabeth because they’re on the bad side. Only our knowledge that the USA won the Cold War maintains the viewer’s comfort.

    A similar series set today with Chinese or Israeli spies would be much harder to watch, because we’re far less sure that the good guys will win in the end.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Svigor

    One of the fundamental problems of The Americans is that it’s hard to root for Philip and Elizabeth because they’re on the bad side. Only our knowledge that the USA won the Cold War maintains the viewer’s comfort.

    A similar series set today with Chinese or Israeli spies would be much harder to watch, because we’re far less sure that the good guys will win in the end.
     

    I was holding out for a really grisly death scene for Elizabeth, say, one of those closeups of the surprised face as a bullet goes through the forehead and out the back, preferably moments after her world crumbles with the televised collapse of the Berlin Wall. But around season four I gave up hope that the showrunners would reward their audience so aptly.
    , @Anon
    Which is why Stan, the FBI agent, is very easy to root for and most certainly the flawed hero of the six seasons.

    Matthew Rhys did a wonderful job in making his villainous character likeable if not altogether sympathetic or someone you wanted to see win.

    I thought the show did a really good job walking that line where the Soviet Union and her agents were portrayed in an unflattering light while never losing sight that they were people with their own motivations, virtues and foibles. It added that tense dread to the atmosphere of the whole series.
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  45. Busby says:
    @Svigor
    The Americans is way more interesting for what it says about the left than for what it says about history, or the historical accuracy of the espionage (it's a spy show - the reality of spying is pretty boring compared to movie spying, and even at its most exciting it's mostly action-scene-free).

    Philip and Elizabeth are the living embodiment of the central leftist delusion that their ends justify their means. At some point early on, the communists decided they wanted the "God Wills It!" mojo for themselves, and tailored their whole shtick around it.

    The fact is, the two are the absolute worst sort of people. They're murderers, whores, and everything in-between, but they think of themselves as angels of righteousness (Elizabeth at least; Philip has been the conflicted one). I think the producers figured out early on that showing her seduce and screw her targets was losing her sympathy with the audience, btw, because she took a rather sudden and thoroughgoing Puritan turn after season 1 or so.

    It's also very interesting for the fine line they're walking politically. The harder you look at the show, the harder it becomes to see which side the writers are on. They seem to be deliberately pursuing a policy of plausible deniability, in this regard.

    Overall, it held together pretty well. The boldest choice the producers made was how living in the US as “Americans” for 20 years caused Phillip to soften and Elizabeth to harden. Yes, I know we often joke about “grl power” but in this instance it follows well given Elizabeth’s devotion to the USSR and her training. How they change is, while a bit over played, still plausible.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mikhail
    Elizabeth eventually softened.
    , @Svigor
    Not really. Women can be that zealous, but only with a loyal society around them. On their own they thaw, eventually. They made her the swivel-eyed lunatic because it's more palatable coming from a woman; they wanted to soften the blow to keep the protagonists "likeable" to the average viewing idiot.
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  46. Rapparee says:
    @Mr. Anon
    I saw the first episode of The Americans and perhaps a little of one or two others soon after. The notion that it reflects any kind of real spy-craft, as I understand it, is pretty laughable. I'm pretty sure that deep-cover agents don't kidnap defectors and take them back to the garage in their own suburban home and murder them there. It was ridiculously over-the-top. Ultimately, it was probably about as realistic as a 1960s Matt Helm movie.

    I barely remember the plots of the episodes I watched, but this was my impression at the time as well. Nobody’s decisions made the least modicum of logical sense, the events were ludicrously implausible, and the characters were nasty and repellent. And everyone was anguished and miserable. At least the silly tongue-in-cheek spy movies of the ’60s were fun and light-hearted.

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  47. AndrewR says:
    @Matthew McConnagay
    SPOILERS ABOUND

    Like I said, it's a testament to the quality of the writing that the show didn't feel "too Albuquerque-based". But think about it: Walt's wife goes to flee the situation and move to another state... but changes her mind at the last minute. Walt gets in too deep, and has to flee for his life... only to find that the money he'd use to disappear has disappeared.

    Yes, there are scenes set outside Albuquerque - but note that Hank's promotion doesn't send him to, say, New York, but to El Paso... and the trip to the lair of the South American drug lords sends them to Juarez, not, say, some Colombian jungle... in other words, all the alternate locations can be passably imitated by somewhere within driving distance of Albuquerque.

    The exception is Walt's trip to New Hampshire, but that's only one or two episodes, right at the end - and kudos to the show for making the effort.

    It's not just locations, though, it's other elements too. The cast, for instance: the one minor weak part of the writing on BB was Walt and Jesse's continuing fidelity to each other. It never really made complete sense, but Walt and Jesse had a fun double act - or, to put it another way, the actors had good chemistry - and so they kept Aaron Paul on.

    Looking at other shows, you may have a situation wherein the story is best served by a character being introduced early, but it's cheaper not to cast anybody in the role until later (as happened in Game of Thrones with the Reeds); or you might cast an actor in one role, only to realise that his character can be conflated with another, thus saving money (and putting one of the actors out of work, as also happened in Game of Thrones to poor Roger Allam, who played Illyrio Mopatis in the first season and was never seen again, his future actions being given instead to Varys the Spider); or you might cast an actor and then run out of things for their character to do, but still be contractually obliged to pay them and stick their names on the credits: this happens all the time, but perhaps the best example is Lorraine Bracco in The Sopranos, whose name crops up at the start of every episode but who is barely in the show after the first few seasons.

    But I'm droning on.

    I like your insights. These are things I’ve never really thought about. You’ve honestly changed the way I will analyze TV and films.

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    • Replies: @Matthew McConnagay
    That's why they pay me the big bucks.

    Oh wait - no they don't
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  48. LondonBob says:
    @AndrewR
    Been a while since I watched BB, but I don't recall ever thinking anything that the show was too Albuquerque-based. There were no shortage of scenes in Mexico, and the fugitive Walt eventually does go far away from Albuquerque. How would you have altered the story? But anyway, you've got to run a drug empire from somewhere. Why not Albuquerque?

    Breaking Bad was supposed to be set in California but it was so much cheaper to shoot it in Albuquerque so they went there, I think there weresubstantial tax breaks for it.

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    • Replies: @OFWHAP
    "Tax rebates" (a euphemism for production subsidies) are the primary reason Hollywood chooses to film in any particular location. Louisiana, Georgia, Quebec, etc. pretty much pay movie/video game studios to produce in their states/provinces. Unless they MUST film on-location in CA or NY, they otherwise choose the cheaper alternatives I listed above.
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  49. theMann says:
    @Matthew McConnagay
    SPOILERS ABOUND

    Like I said, it's a testament to the quality of the writing that the show didn't feel "too Albuquerque-based". But think about it: Walt's wife goes to flee the situation and move to another state... but changes her mind at the last minute. Walt gets in too deep, and has to flee for his life... only to find that the money he'd use to disappear has disappeared.

    Yes, there are scenes set outside Albuquerque - but note that Hank's promotion doesn't send him to, say, New York, but to El Paso... and the trip to the lair of the South American drug lords sends them to Juarez, not, say, some Colombian jungle... in other words, all the alternate locations can be passably imitated by somewhere within driving distance of Albuquerque.

    The exception is Walt's trip to New Hampshire, but that's only one or two episodes, right at the end - and kudos to the show for making the effort.

    It's not just locations, though, it's other elements too. The cast, for instance: the one minor weak part of the writing on BB was Walt and Jesse's continuing fidelity to each other. It never really made complete sense, but Walt and Jesse had a fun double act - or, to put it another way, the actors had good chemistry - and so they kept Aaron Paul on.

    Looking at other shows, you may have a situation wherein the story is best served by a character being introduced early, but it's cheaper not to cast anybody in the role until later (as happened in Game of Thrones with the Reeds); or you might cast an actor in one role, only to realise that his character can be conflated with another, thus saving money (and putting one of the actors out of work, as also happened in Game of Thrones to poor Roger Allam, who played Illyrio Mopatis in the first season and was never seen again, his future actions being given instead to Varys the Spider); or you might cast an actor and then run out of things for their character to do, but still be contractually obliged to pay them and stick their names on the credits: this happens all the time, but perhaps the best example is Lorraine Bracco in The Sopranos, whose name crops up at the start of every episode but who is barely in the show after the first few seasons.

    But I'm droning on.

    Ah Breaking Bad, the most absurd and genuinely overrated tv show ever. Binge watched the whole thing once when I was ill, and it is probably what took me so long to recover.

    Two points highlight the ridiculous:
    1. Do you think the DEA would assign a high level agent to Albuquerque who was not fluent in Spanish? Seriously?

    2. Watched it to the bitter end for that glorious episode where WW finally solves 99% of his problems by whacking Jesse Pinkman. Which could have occured from episode #2 onwards. Sheesh….

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  50. Jack D says:
    @Alfa158
    Based on the biographies I’ve read on Oppenheimer, it seems likely that he was not involved in spying, but he also wasn’t particularly worried about it either. The Soviets we’re regarded by Leftists such as himself and his colleagues as people who meant well, and were fighting a common enemy so leakage of physics principles just wasn’t regarded as that big a deal. One of his lovers was an Soviet agent and there were attempts to recruit Oppenheimer, but they never actually turned him.
    Oppenheimer nervetheless was regarded with suspicion because of the leaks, and the way that once the Nazis were no longer a threat, he and others tried to put the brakes on the nuclear weapons program. By then there was too much momentum to stop the bomb from being completed and used, and the fusion bomb was developed without him and many of the no-nukes faction.

    Oppenheimer was under suspicion even during the war because of his known Communist links (his brother, his mistress, etc. – academia has been leftist for a long time) but since the Soviets were our Allies and since Oppenheimer was invaluable to the Manhattan Project they let it slide. The right wing, goyish and high secrecy culture of the military was always in tension with the leftist, Jewish and open culture of the academics recruited to Los Alamos – they were like oil and water. Despite tapping his phone, following him around, etc. they never found any proof that he was giving information to the Soviets. Once the Cold War began and Oppenheimer was no longer needed, his enemies got his security clearance taken away which was a humiliation. Oppenheimer was only rehabilitated (by LBJ) when he was already a dying man.

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    • Replies: @Johann Ricke

    Once the Cold War began and Oppenheimer was no longer needed, his enemies got his security clearance taken away which was a humiliation.
     
    My impression is that many leftists aren't so much against nukes as they are specifically against the US having nukes.
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  51. @Sunbeam
    From that title I was expecting something like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt-tG6ufH90

    Incidentally there was some kind of elderly Italian former diplomatty kind of guy who wrote a number of fairly well selling books about 40 years ago. They had names like "The Germans," "The Americans," "The British."

    Kind of thing that sold really well in England I imagine. Anyway I read all of them in my 20's.

    In retrospect not one iota of value was received from that. But the man had impeccible credentials, style, and on the ground experience.

    You may be thinking of Luigi Barzini. As charming a man as he was well-traveled and well-read.

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  52. Mr. Anon says:
    @Alfa158
    Based on the biographies I’ve read on Oppenheimer, it seems likely that he was not involved in spying, but he also wasn’t particularly worried about it either. The Soviets we’re regarded by Leftists such as himself and his colleagues as people who meant well, and were fighting a common enemy so leakage of physics principles just wasn’t regarded as that big a deal. One of his lovers was an Soviet agent and there were attempts to recruit Oppenheimer, but they never actually turned him.
    Oppenheimer nervetheless was regarded with suspicion because of the leaks, and the way that once the Nazis were no longer a threat, he and others tried to put the brakes on the nuclear weapons program. By then there was too much momentum to stop the bomb from being completed and used, and the fusion bomb was developed without him and many of the no-nukes faction.

    Although he probably still had left/liberal sympathies, Oppenheimer had become disillusioned with the Soviet Union, and perhaps with communism entirely, by the time he was picked to lead the bomb development effort at Los Alamos.

    And, as Jack D pointed out upthread, Oppenheimer was pretty intensively surveiled during the War, and no evidence was ever turned up that he spied or abetted spying. In fact, when his friend Haakon Chevalier tried to induce him to pass information on to the Soviets, Oppenheimer reported the incident to project security personnel, although he initially shielded the identity of who had made the approach.

    Oppenheimer didn’t exactly put the brakes on the development of the A-bomb. He may have had some qualms after Germany surrendered and it became obvious that the War was coming to an end. Ultimately he endorsed using the weapon, over the objections of many of his project scientists. And he lived with that decision, very uneasily, for the rest of his life.

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  53. Mr. Anon says:
    @syonredux

    In reality, Soviet spying inside the USA was effective mostly only when the President sympathized with the Communist Party USA… very few during anti-Communist era’s like Reagans.

    Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen were active during the Reagan years.
     
    I'm willing to bet that the number of traitors was higher under FDR.....

    Also, Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money....unlike ideologically motivated FDR-era traitors like Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White......

    Also, Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money….

    Although they were paid, I suspect there was more at work there than just greed. Most people aren’t going to take chances like that just for money. Perhaps they were doing it out of a sense of wounded pride, avenging themselves on the bureacracy which passed them over and didn’t value them. Mind you, the bureacracies in question might have been right to have done so.

    Anyone familiar with the workings of the civil service has seen such people – men with thwarted careers (rightly or wrongly) who have an enormous chip on their shoulder. Most men will never act on it, but take away some risk aversion, add in some greed, and the skillful manipulation of a soviet spy-handler, and you can get an Ames or a Hanssen.

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    • Replies: @Rapparee
    Hanssen was a bitter and potent cocktail of toxic personality disorders; a total psychological train-wreck. (Unfortunately for us, one with an exceptionally well-developed talent for making himself appear normal to colleagues). I doubt even he himself could understand all his complex and warped motivations for treason.

    The 2007 film about Hanssen,"Breach", is a pretty good portrait of the kind of narcissist/psychopath/all-around-weirdo who often gets into selling state secrets for cash.
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  54. @Matthew McConnagay
    John Schindler says the KGB stopped doing "wetwork" in the 50's.

    And Yuri Bezmenov said that all that James Bond shit was for the rubes; the KGB spent most of their energy on ideological subversion.

    So The Americans must be a load of bollocks.

    It was good TV though, at least for a while; it got boring after a season or two. I remember thinking it suffered especially strongly from the tension between the needs of the story and the needs of the production.

    Most shows suffer from this to some degree or another (and managing it must be a big challenge for the writers). For instance: in Breaking Bad - mild spoiler alert - why does nobody ever simply leave Albuquerque, despite all the extremely compelling reasons for them to do so? There are in-world reasons - and it's a testament to the quality of the writing that they mostly stick - but the real reason is that the production is already set-up in New Mexico, and it would cost money to move it somewhere else.

    “For instance: in Breaking Bad – mild spoiler alert – why does nobody ever simply leave Albuquerque, despite all the extremely compelling reasons for them to do so? There are in-world reasons – and it’s a testament to the quality of the writing that they mostly stick – but the real reason is that the production is already set-up in New Mexico, and it would cost money to move it somewhere else.“

    This problem is even more evident in “Better Call Saul”. From “Breaking Bad” we already know Saul Goodman’s real name is Jimmy McGill and he later changed it. But in the prequel series we find that he was practicing law less than a decade or so earlier than BB, under his real name, in Albuquerque! To top it off, it’s established that his older brother was once one of the most well-known and respected lawyers in the city (if not the state). This would not be a problem if the prequel was set in another city and state. In reality, practically everyone in Albuquerque’s legal community (which being in a small city would be fairly tight-knit) would know exactly who Saul Goodman is and he would not be allowed within 100 miles of a New Mexico court room.

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    • Replies: @Anon
    I've worked in the legal field, and this bugged me too. I think there's no problem with simply changing your name, legally, and I suppose Jimmy's reason is to "put the tragedy" of his brother's death behind him. He wasn't disbarred, right, so no one could refuse to let him appear in court. The real problem is that none of this was ever alluded to in BB. It's like the backstory in Godfather II was that Vito was a WWI air ace or something.

    I have a bigger problem with Chuck himself. If Chuck is such a super-duper lawyer, WTF is he in New Mexico? I know why Yale-educated lawyers like Bill and Hill went to Arkansas: it's a small state and easy to take over. But Chuck is a straight-shooter, so why bury yourself in NM? Sure, people (supposedly) like to retire there and live in wacky desert houses, but Chuck doesn't.
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  55. fitzGetty says:
    @J.Ross
    I am creeped out by how smoothly normies accept history-rewriting prestige series like this (or Mad Men) as lightly fictionalized but fundamentally truthful.

    … that recent film about Nazi Norway was a useful reminder … ruled by Berlin for 5 years to 1945 … even my father was surprised at how successfully this has been expunged from the ‘’’conversation’’’ …

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    Max Manus, Man of Alliteration?
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  56. poolside says:

    Loved “The Americans.” Slow-moving at times, yes. And over-the-top. But that’s television. No one wants to watch a show where people do quiet surveillance for an hour.

    The ending? There were some definite loose ends, but all-in-all, I enjoyed it. The scene with Stan and the Jennings in the garage was riveting.

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  57. Bugg says:
    @Twinkie

    I liked the vintage 80s depictions of Washington DC.
     
    Except everything looks like NYC, not DC or Northern Virginia (where the characters supposedly live).

    A lot of the urban exteriors for the show were NYC. And CGI lets you do a lot of background with a green screen. Seriously doubt any of the finale was actually filmed in Moscow. It still got the 1980s images mostly correct.

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  58. Thirdeye says:

    From the Ted Hall Wiki:

    Theodore Hall later claimed that he became concerned about the consequences of an American monopoly of atomic weapons after the war.

    Hall turned out to be absolutely correct. The Operation Unthinkable study showed Churchill’s desire to overturn the Tehran Agreement by force and Churchill was quite successful at inducing Truman to see things his way, essentially making Truman his poodle at Potsdam. Plan Totalize was conceived as a way to make feasible under a nuclear advantage what was determined not feasible under Unthinkable. The Soviet nuclear deterrence prevented that sort of foolishness from coming to fruition.

    BTW, Hall was not a Communist. He used the CPUSA as a channel to contact the Soviets.

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  59. CJ says:
    @Svigor
    The Americans is way more interesting for what it says about the left than for what it says about history, or the historical accuracy of the espionage (it's a spy show - the reality of spying is pretty boring compared to movie spying, and even at its most exciting it's mostly action-scene-free).

    Philip and Elizabeth are the living embodiment of the central leftist delusion that their ends justify their means. At some point early on, the communists decided they wanted the "God Wills It!" mojo for themselves, and tailored their whole shtick around it.

    The fact is, the two are the absolute worst sort of people. They're murderers, whores, and everything in-between, but they think of themselves as angels of righteousness (Elizabeth at least; Philip has been the conflicted one). I think the producers figured out early on that showing her seduce and screw her targets was losing her sympathy with the audience, btw, because she took a rather sudden and thoroughgoing Puritan turn after season 1 or so.

    It's also very interesting for the fine line they're walking politically. The harder you look at the show, the harder it becomes to see which side the writers are on. They seem to be deliberately pursuing a policy of plausible deniability, in this regard.

    Calling the characters Philip and Elizabeth was too cute by half. After that they might as well have named the children Charles and Anne.

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  60. Brutusale says:

    I don’t know, if the dreaded Russkis fill the honey pot with this, I guess I’m giving up the codes.

    We’d be remiss if the Walker Family Spy Ring goes unmentioned.

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  61. dearieme says:
    @Steve Sailer
    Ideologically motivated spies like Klaus Fuchs, Ted Hall, Kim Philby, Alger Hiss, and Harry Dexter White are really bad news because they aren't the usual weak, corrupt crooks like Aldrich Ames, they are top men.

    Approximate quotation from Max Hastings: “I’m fed up of hearing about the Cambridge Five. What about the Washington and Berkeley Five Hundred?”

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    Approximate quotation from Max Hastings: “I’m fed up of hearing about the Cambridge Five. What about the Washington and Berkeley Five Hundred?”
     
    Too many Jews.
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  62. CJ says:

    We’d be remiss if the Walker Family Spy Ring goes unmentioned.

    Yes, the Walker family was as purely in it for the $ as it’s possible to be.

    When you read over the amount of secret information sold by spies operating inside the U.S. government/armed forces/defense contractors from about 1945 on, it’s mind-boggling. Fuchs, Hanssen, Ames, Walker, Pollard, Boyce … there couldn’t have been much the Soviets didn’t know.

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  63. I can’t watch The Americans. I never get more than five or ten minutes into a show before I start thinking of Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale and can’t stop.

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    • Replies: @Ivy
    Keri Russell was so attractive in her role as Felicity and then she cut off that hair.
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  64. J.Ross says: • Website
    @fitzGetty
    ... that recent film about Nazi Norway was a useful reminder ... ruled by Berlin for 5 years to 1945 ... even my father was surprised at how successfully this has been expunged from the ‘’’conversation’’’ ...

    Max Manus, Man of Alliteration?

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  65. @Jack D
    Oppenheimer was under suspicion even during the war because of his known Communist links (his brother, his mistress, etc. - academia has been leftist for a long time) but since the Soviets were our Allies and since Oppenheimer was invaluable to the Manhattan Project they let it slide. The right wing, goyish and high secrecy culture of the military was always in tension with the leftist, Jewish and open culture of the academics recruited to Los Alamos - they were like oil and water. Despite tapping his phone, following him around, etc. they never found any proof that he was giving information to the Soviets. Once the Cold War began and Oppenheimer was no longer needed, his enemies got his security clearance taken away which was a humiliation. Oppenheimer was only rehabilitated (by LBJ) when he was already a dying man.

    Once the Cold War began and Oppenheimer was no longer needed, his enemies got his security clearance taken away which was a humiliation.

    My impression is that many leftists aren’t so much against nukes as they are specifically against the US having nukes.

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  66. J.Ross says: • Website
    @MikeatMikedotMike
    I thought stylistically Mad Men was well done, but I found the three female leads to be terribly unlikable. I'd rewatch the show if I could find a version that had all of Peggy and Joan and Betty's boring personal life stuff edited out.

    What did you find historically inaccurate?

    What did you find to be historically inaccurate in Mad Men?

    The stuff in the archive of this blog. It’s been a focus of Steve’s for years. Tldr the show creator tells anyone who will listen that his inspiration for the show is wallpaper-munching hatred of WASP straw men.

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  67. Ivy says:
    @The Plutonium Kid
    I can't watch The Americans. I never get more than five or ten minutes into a show before I start thinking of Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale and can't stop.

    Keri Russell was so attractive in her role as Felicity and then she cut off that hair.

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  68. Mikhail says: • Website
    @Busby
    Overall, it held together pretty well. The boldest choice the producers made was how living in the US as “Americans” for 20 years caused Phillip to soften and Elizabeth to harden. Yes, I know we often joke about “grl power” but in this instance it follows well given Elizabeth’s devotion to the USSR and her training. How they change is, while a bit over played, still plausible.

    Elizabeth eventually softened.

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    • Replies: @Anon
    Elizabeth, like Philip, became disillusioned. But as a fanatic, her realization and ability to cope with that came too late and at too high a price.

    As the series went on, her fanaticism turned to her children, Paige specifically- children she never wanted- just as she swung from the communist/proletarian cause to a case of homesick Russian chauvinism. We can track the break or change to when she commits to actually marrying Philip in the Russian Orthodox ceremony.

    With her in the end, she didn't raise a solider for the cause but a dippy American girl who wanted a close relation with her mother, of the kind Elizabeth never had with her own.
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  69. OFWHAP says:
    @LondonBob
    Breaking Bad was supposed to be set in California but it was so much cheaper to shoot it in Albuquerque so they went there, I think there weresubstantial tax breaks for it.

    “Tax rebates” (a euphemism for production subsidies) are the primary reason Hollywood chooses to film in any particular location. Louisiana, Georgia, Quebec, etc. pretty much pay movie/video game studios to produce in their states/provinces. Unless they MUST film on-location in CA or NY, they otherwise choose the cheaper alternatives I listed above.

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    • Replies: @Jack D
    I've seen some low budget movies that supposedly are set in NYC and the street shots are clearly Vancouver or somewhere that looks nothing like NYC, with above ground utility poles and back alleys and other features that NY just does not have.
    , @Jim Don Bob
    I always watch movie credits 1) to see just who has personal assistants and how many 2) to see who has his own driver, makeup artist, hair stylist, etc. and 3) to see what government is giving away tax dollars. I saw one recently where Quebec gave credits for doing the CGI work there.
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  70. L Bean says:

    Has anyone here actually watched the show? More than the first episode? It was clearly conceived to stoke Russophobia under the guise of “realism”, it’s one of the highest quality(and I’d guess, highest budgeted) TV shows, from top to bottom. Acting, directing, sets, writing. It’s a massive, very carefully prepared show.

    Its main message, for anyone not chemically lobotomized, is quite clear; “Russians” are different than “us”, to the point of being not only supernaturally dangerous, but actually inherently, inhumanly evil. The premise is that this faux couple murders people in cold blood on the streets of DC(every episode), and that while they’re a professional team, they decide to HAVE CHILDREN, and raise them as Americans, without a care for their future if and when things go sideways, and surely upon their maturity things will, as is hinted from the first episode on. So the characters present as this sort of next level evil as the premise itself, even if one ignores the actual constant brutality that the spy couple gets up to on what seems like a daily basis. Near the end of the series, they recruit and train their own daughter, who will eventually try to get an actual insider’s job in DC. Evil! Brilliant! Unparalleled villainy and disregard for humanity! (24/7/365) As if Russians were capable of robotic, godlike malice on a level that actual Americans just aren’t. Their neighbor is a bumbling but higher-up FBI agent whose job is to root these types out but there they are, right across the street, and he doesn’t “get it” for years. Actually he only figures it out in the last episode. Spoiler alert, fuck that. This show is too evil to be cosseted in any way.

    And Mr Sailer, it’s pretty shameful to discuss the implications of this show without addressing its creator and writers. Joe Weisberg is literally a CIA agent, and aside from some theatre directing back in the day in Israel, this is his only “other” work. The rabidly insane Russian expat who works for Wapo(CIA), Masha Gessen, is in charge of the Russian dialogue! Hello!?! I know it’s only a TV show, but for the vast majority of actual “Americans”, it is gospel, and far more important to their worldview than anything that Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper could present, and they are the “real” news.

    It’s quite literally a CIA op, and ofc not the only one, but they don’t even try to hide it. It’s almost a test to see how blatant the propaganda can get, if done stylishy enough.

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  71. CK says:
    @Steve Sailer
    Ideologically motivated spies like Klaus Fuchs, Ted Hall, Kim Philby, Alger Hiss, and Harry Dexter White are really bad news because they aren't the usual weak, corrupt crooks like Aldrich Ames, they are top men.

    Hiss and White were FDR’s advisors at Tehran and Yalta.
    Their influence allowed/informed FDR’s belief that the USSR armies were
    on their last legs and could in no way do a 180 and move from Berlin to Manchuria in 90 days.
    So FDR demanded of Stalin that the USSR attack the Japanese armies in Manchuria within 90 days of the German surrender in Europe or USSR would have no say in the Asian peace process. ( I think Joe must have really stifled a guffaw under his stache at that one since GB and the USA had done about as little as possible both before and after D-Day to alleviate the load the Russian Army had carried for 4 years.) ” Reluctantly” Stalin agreed.
    89 days after the German surrender, the USSR declared war on Japan and launched the largest and most successful double pincers attack the world has ever seen.
    Within twelve days the USSR had destroyed the Japanese army in Manchuria. Done two amphibious landings on Sakhalin Island and the Kuril islands and were preparing an invasion of Hokkaido Island which the Japanese had no defenses for.
    And the Russian army made it half way down the Korean peninsula before if so far overran its supply lines that it literally had to stop and wait for refuel.
    The Russians had a seat at the Asian peace talks and they also had direct supply lines to Mao and his armies which led to the defeat of Chiang Kai Scheck and “The whole who lost China debate.”
    The Kurils are still a point of contention with Japan. And the USA demonstrated that it truly feared the USSR by dropping the second bomb on Nagasaki ( the much less successful bomb since
    Nagasaki was a cement and concrete city while Hiroshima was a much more wooden city).
    The effects of Hiss and White and the other soviet spies still reverberates — on June 12 President Trump will meet with the leaders of North and South Korea to try to put the beginning of an end to just one of the many problems Hiss and White caused.

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  72. Rapparee says:
    @Mr. Anon

    Also, Ames and Hanssen (if memory serves) were in it for the money….
     
    Although they were paid, I suspect there was more at work there than just greed. Most people aren't going to take chances like that just for money. Perhaps they were doing it out of a sense of wounded pride, avenging themselves on the bureacracy which passed them over and didn't value them. Mind you, the bureacracies in question might have been right to have done so.

    Anyone familiar with the workings of the civil service has seen such people - men with thwarted careers (rightly or wrongly) who have an enormous chip on their shoulder. Most men will never act on it, but take away some risk aversion, add in some greed, and the skillful manipulation of a soviet spy-handler, and you can get an Ames or a Hanssen.

    Hanssen was a bitter and potent cocktail of toxic personality disorders; a total psychological train-wreck. (Unfortunately for us, one with an exceptionally well-developed talent for making himself appear normal to colleagues). I doubt even he himself could understand all his complex and warped motivations for treason.

    The 2007 film about Hanssen,”Breach“, is a pretty good portrait of the kind of narcissist/psychopath/all-around-weirdo who often gets into selling state secrets for cash.

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  73. Jack D says:
    @OFWHAP
    "Tax rebates" (a euphemism for production subsidies) are the primary reason Hollywood chooses to film in any particular location. Louisiana, Georgia, Quebec, etc. pretty much pay movie/video game studios to produce in their states/provinces. Unless they MUST film on-location in CA or NY, they otherwise choose the cheaper alternatives I listed above.

    I’ve seen some low budget movies that supposedly are set in NYC and the street shots are clearly Vancouver or somewhere that looks nothing like NYC, with above ground utility poles and back alleys and other features that NY just does not have.

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    • Replies: @Matthew McConnagay
    New York doesn't have back alleys?
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  74. CK says:

    This is a small continuation:
    References to what I have posted can be found here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet%E2%80%93Japanese_War

    https://amti.csis.org/the-legacy-of-the-soviet-offensives-of-august-1945/

    ( The Agreement to partition Korea would have been void if the USSR had not attacked Japan within the 90 day period after Germany’s defeat.)

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    By the way, the Soviet Far Eastern offensive coming two days after Hiroshima was not opportunism caused by the atomic bombing. It had been agreed to at Yalta (I think) and came on last day of agreed-upon 90 day period for organizing it VE Day in Berlin.

    The fantasists running Japan had been dreaming of getting the Soviets to intercede with the Americans to bring about a negotiated peace, so the immense Soviet attack was very disappointing to them. Then the Americans showed they had a second A-bomb at Nagasaki.

    It was a very discouraging week for the Japanese leadership.

    And yet there was still an attempted military coup to prevent the Emperor's surrender message going out on the radio by trying to seize the 78 record and break it over an officer's knee. I've always been fascinated by how the end of WWII was not more of the mass destruction that preceded it, but was instead a small scale fight over a single extremely fragile object only about 10 inches in diameter, which survived intact.

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  75. @CK
    This is a small continuation:
    References to what I have posted can be found here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet%E2%80%93Japanese_War
    https://amti.csis.org/the-legacy-of-the-soviet-offensives-of-august-1945/
    ( The Agreement to partition Korea would have been void if the USSR had not attacked Japan within the 90 day period after Germany's defeat.)

    By the way, the Soviet Far Eastern offensive coming two days after Hiroshima was not opportunism caused by the atomic bombing. It had been agreed to at Yalta (I think) and came on last day of agreed-upon 90 day period for organizing it VE Day in Berlin.

    The fantasists running Japan had been dreaming of getting the Soviets to intercede with the Americans to bring about a negotiated peace, so the immense Soviet attack was very disappointing to them. Then the Americans showed they had a second A-bomb at Nagasaki.

    It was a very discouraging week for the Japanese leadership.

    And yet there was still an attempted military coup to prevent the Emperor’s surrender message going out on the radio by trying to seize the 78 record and break it over an officer’s knee. I’ve always been fascinated by how the end of WWII was not more of the mass destruction that preceded it, but was instead a small scale fight over a single extremely fragile object only about 10 inches in diameter, which survived intact.

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    • Replies: @syonredux

    Stalin agreed to enter the fight against the Empire of Japan "in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe is terminated," and that as a result, the Soviets would take possession of Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, the port of Dalian would be internationalized, and the Soviet lease of Port Arthur would be restored, among other concessions.[12]
     
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yalta_Conference#Potsdam_and_the_atomic_bomb

    As agreed with the Allies at the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Soviet Union entered World War II's Pacific Theater within three months of the end of the war in Europe. The invasion began on 9 August 1945, exactly three months after the German surrender on May 8 (9 May, 0:43 Moscow time).

     


    Although the commencement of the invasion fell between the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima, on 6 August, and only hours before the Nagasaki bombing on 9 August, the timing of the invasion had been planned well in advance and was determined by the timing of the agreements at Tehran and Yalta, the long-term buildup of Soviet forces in the Far East since Tehran, and the date of the German surrender some three months earlier; on August 3, Marshal Vasilevsky reported to Premier Joseph Stalin that, if necessary, he could attack on the morning of 5 August.
     
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_invasion_of_Manchuria
    , @Anon87
    Is that record still in existence?
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  76. syonredux says:
    @dearieme
    Approximate quotation from Max Hastings: "I'm fed up of hearing about the Cambridge Five. What about the Washington and Berkeley Five Hundred?"

    Approximate quotation from Max Hastings: “I’m fed up of hearing about the Cambridge Five. What about the Washington and Berkeley Five Hundred?”

    Too many Jews.

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  77. syonredux says:
    @Steve Sailer
    By the way, the Soviet Far Eastern offensive coming two days after Hiroshima was not opportunism caused by the atomic bombing. It had been agreed to at Yalta (I think) and came on last day of agreed-upon 90 day period for organizing it VE Day in Berlin.

    The fantasists running Japan had been dreaming of getting the Soviets to intercede with the Americans to bring about a negotiated peace, so the immense Soviet attack was very disappointing to them. Then the Americans showed they had a second A-bomb at Nagasaki.

    It was a very discouraging week for the Japanese leadership.

    And yet there was still an attempted military coup to prevent the Emperor's surrender message going out on the radio by trying to seize the 78 record and break it over an officer's knee. I've always been fascinated by how the end of WWII was not more of the mass destruction that preceded it, but was instead a small scale fight over a single extremely fragile object only about 10 inches in diameter, which survived intact.

    Stalin agreed to enter the fight against the Empire of Japan “in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe is terminated,” and that as a result, the Soviets would take possession of Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, the port of Dalian would be internationalized, and the Soviet lease of Port Arthur would be restored, among other concessions.[12]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yalta_Conference#Potsdam_and_the_atomic_bomb

    As agreed with the Allies at the Tehran Conference in November 1943 and the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Soviet Union entered World War II’s Pacific Theater within three months of the end of the war in Europe. The invasion began on 9 August 1945, exactly three months after the German surrender on May 8 (9 May, 0:43 Moscow time).

    Although the commencement of the invasion fell between the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima, on 6 August, and only hours before the Nagasaki bombing on 9 August, the timing of the invasion had been planned well in advance and was determined by the timing of the agreements at Tehran and Yalta, the long-term buildup of Soviet forces in the Far East since Tehran, and the date of the German surrender some three months earlier; on August 3, Marshal Vasilevsky reported to Premier Joseph Stalin that, if necessary, he could attack on the morning of 5 August.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_invasion_of_Manchuria

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  78. Dr. Doom says:

    The corporate media and their flim flam. They should stick to selling soap. All the fakery and smoke and mirrors. The Best Propaganda is based on Truth. That’s why its all samizdat now.

    Trying to make blacks, women and Marxism seem cool. Careful editing and censoring opposite opinions. Its reality that kills The Daily Beast. Cannot seem to hide the truth. Observable reality disagrees with the droning hum of the broken record.

    The narrative is down. They just need to amp up the volume.
    On corporate media, no one hears you scream.

    Talk about the Revolution. Mikey Moore is still not cool.
    Go ahead and talk about Chairman Mao. They all hate China now anyhow.
    Global hegemony? Am I right?

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  79. Svigor says:
    @Andrew M

    I think the producers figured out early on that ...
     
    One of the fundamental problems of The Americans is that it’s hard to root for Philip and Elizabeth because they’re on the bad side. Only our knowledge that the USA won the Cold War maintains the viewer’s comfort.

    A similar series set today with Chinese or Israeli spies would be much harder to watch, because we’re far less sure that the good guys will win in the end.

    One of the fundamental problems of The Americans is that it’s hard to root for Philip and Elizabeth because they’re on the bad side. Only our knowledge that the USA won the Cold War maintains the viewer’s comfort.

    A similar series set today with Chinese or Israeli spies would be much harder to watch, because we’re far less sure that the good guys will win in the end.

    I was holding out for a really grisly death scene for Elizabeth, say, one of those closeups of the surprised face as a bullet goes through the forehead and out the back, preferably moments after her world crumbles with the televised collapse of the Berlin Wall. But around season four I gave up hope that the showrunners would reward their audience so aptly.

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  80. Anon[274] • Disclaimer says:
    @Andrew M

    I think the producers figured out early on that ...
     
    One of the fundamental problems of The Americans is that it’s hard to root for Philip and Elizabeth because they’re on the bad side. Only our knowledge that the USA won the Cold War maintains the viewer’s comfort.

    A similar series set today with Chinese or Israeli spies would be much harder to watch, because we’re far less sure that the good guys will win in the end.

    Which is why Stan, the FBI agent, is very easy to root for and most certainly the flawed hero of the six seasons.

    Matthew Rhys did a wonderful job in making his villainous character likeable if not altogether sympathetic or someone you wanted to see win.

    I thought the show did a really good job walking that line where the Soviet Union and her agents were portrayed in an unflattering light while never losing sight that they were people with their own motivations, virtues and foibles. It added that tense dread to the atmosphere of the whole series.

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  81. Svigor says:
    @Busby
    Overall, it held together pretty well. The boldest choice the producers made was how living in the US as “Americans” for 20 years caused Phillip to soften and Elizabeth to harden. Yes, I know we often joke about “grl power” but in this instance it follows well given Elizabeth’s devotion to the USSR and her training. How they change is, while a bit over played, still plausible.

    Not really. Women can be that zealous, but only with a loyal society around them. On their own they thaw, eventually. They made her the swivel-eyed lunatic because it’s more palatable coming from a woman; they wanted to soften the blow to keep the protagonists “likeable” to the average viewing idiot.

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  82. Svigor says:

    One of the things that really sticks out in my mind about the show is how the protagonists act as if they’re curing cancer (their son Henry makes explicit reference to their attitude), but all they’re doing is really nasty, low, vile, immoral and criminal acts that amount to nothing in the end.

    The high point for me so far was when they got the news that the sub propeller plans they’d stolen were fake and the sub testing it had gone down with all hands, over one hundred Soviet sailors, IIRC. Their indignation and shock that the US gov’t would “do something like that” was hilarious. It was like they thought they were entitled to steal our shit, and we had some moral obligation to not to design any sabotage into anything they might steal. That was pretty rich.

    Runner-up was when they murdered the South African officer. Lefties and brain-dead normies probably missed it, but anyone capable of critical thinking saw how bad that made Elizabeth and Philip look, to say nothing of their barbarous black ally. This is my favorite example of how I see the producers walking a fine line of political plausible deniability.

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  83. Anon[274] • Disclaimer says:
    @Mikhail
    Elizabeth eventually softened.

    Elizabeth, like Philip, became disillusioned. But as a fanatic, her realization and ability to cope with that came too late and at too high a price.

    As the series went on, her fanaticism turned to her children, Paige specifically- children she never wanted- just as she swung from the communist/proletarian cause to a case of homesick Russian chauvinism. We can track the break or change to when she commits to actually marrying Philip in the Russian Orthodox ceremony.

    With her in the end, she didn’t raise a solider for the cause but a dippy American girl who wanted a close relation with her mother, of the kind Elizabeth never had with her own.

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  84. Svigor says:

    For me the most ridiculous thing about the show wasn’t their nonsensical mission (no way do you waste such carefully-planted illegals on constant high-risk action-hero tasks), it was how uber-badass they had to be as a consequence. In a recent example, Elizabeth uses a fairly weak choke-hold from behind to incapacitate a man twice her size. He could have easily thrown her right over his head and body-slammed her. Hollywood really loves this self-actualization/buttkicking babe stuff where Yoda/Mister Miyagi/Waifu can use uber skill to beat up much bigger, faster, stronger, fitter opponents, but it’s nonsense. A skill advantage gives you an edge, but it can only overcome a modest deficit in other areas. A normally-sized male who knows the basics can manhandle a normally-sized woman of any skill level. Fact is, a fit man with decent training (e.g., an FBI field agent who takes his job seriously) can give pretty much any man a Hell of a fight, if he gets a break or two and uses his environment well. They should’ve just had Elizabeth use a knife or gun most of the time; weapons are the enormous advantage that Hollywood wants skill to be.

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  85. Svigor says:

    Matthew Rhys did a wonderful job in making his villainous character likeable if not altogether sympathetic or someone you wanted to see win.

    I was constantly amused by what an “everyman” he is. His face really worked well with the many disguises theme. As far as likability, you make a good point, but his sighing and moping and pregnant pauses wear pretty thin after six seasons.

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  86. Aardvark says:

    The show is designed to make spy work look really cool and dangerous at the same time.
    I have noted a similar thing – that for too many years we have had TV and movie roles where women absolutely kick the shit out of men. If that were really the case why is there #MeToo? Shouldn’t have women hospitalized Harvey Weinstein and other losers much earlier on before it sunk in not to f*ck with women? Even the daughter goes in to a bar and beats the crap out of some guy.

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  87. Anon[161] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hapalong Cassidy
    “For instance: in Breaking Bad – mild spoiler alert – why does nobody ever simply leave Albuquerque, despite all the extremely compelling reasons for them to do so? There are in-world reasons – and it’s a testament to the quality of the writing that they mostly stick – but the real reason is that the production is already set-up in New Mexico, and it would cost money to move it somewhere else.“

    This problem is even more evident in “Better Call Saul”. From “Breaking Bad” we already know Saul Goodman’s real name is Jimmy McGill and he later changed it. But in the prequel series we find that he was practicing law less than a decade or so earlier than BB, under his real name, in Albuquerque! To top it off, it’s established that his older brother was once one of the most well-known and respected lawyers in the city (if not the state). This would not be a problem if the prequel was set in another city and state. In reality, practically everyone in Albuquerque’s legal community (which being in a small city would be fairly tight-knit) would know exactly who Saul Goodman is and he would not be allowed within 100 miles of a New Mexico court room.

    I’ve worked in the legal field, and this bugged me too. I think there’s no problem with simply changing your name, legally, and I suppose Jimmy’s reason is to “put the tragedy” of his brother’s death behind him. He wasn’t disbarred, right, so no one could refuse to let him appear in court. The real problem is that none of this was ever alluded to in BB. It’s like the backstory in Godfather II was that Vito was a WWI air ace or something.

    I have a bigger problem with Chuck himself. If Chuck is such a super-duper lawyer, WTF is he in New Mexico? I know why Yale-educated lawyers like Bill and Hill went to Arkansas: it’s a small state and easy to take over. But Chuck is a straight-shooter, so why bury yourself in NM? Sure, people (supposedly) like to retire there and live in wacky desert houses, but Chuck doesn’t.

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    • Replies: @Hapalong Cassidy
    It also bugged me when Jimmy was given praise for accepting a job at this high-profile prestigious law firm based out of - Santa Fe?
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  88. Anon[161] • Disclaimer says:
    @Twinkie

    I liked the vintage 80s depictions of Washington DC.
     
    Except everything looks like NYC, not DC or Northern Virginia (where the characters supposedly live).

    They did some filming this year outside my office in NYC. Street salted with late model cars with DC plates. Can’t say if the UWS looks like DC, but there sure were a lot of pro-soviet Jewish liberals around….

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  89. Anon87 says:
    @Steve Sailer
    By the way, the Soviet Far Eastern offensive coming two days after Hiroshima was not opportunism caused by the atomic bombing. It had been agreed to at Yalta (I think) and came on last day of agreed-upon 90 day period for organizing it VE Day in Berlin.

    The fantasists running Japan had been dreaming of getting the Soviets to intercede with the Americans to bring about a negotiated peace, so the immense Soviet attack was very disappointing to them. Then the Americans showed they had a second A-bomb at Nagasaki.

    It was a very discouraging week for the Japanese leadership.

    And yet there was still an attempted military coup to prevent the Emperor's surrender message going out on the radio by trying to seize the 78 record and break it over an officer's knee. I've always been fascinated by how the end of WWII was not more of the mass destruction that preceded it, but was instead a small scale fight over a single extremely fragile object only about 10 inches in diameter, which survived intact.

    Is that record still in existence?

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  90. Svigor says:

    Never watched the show, not interested in TV that glorifies the frigging evil Soviet Communists.

    Only by faint damnation. It’s sort of a Rorschach test. If you’re an ignorant normie with no moral compass, you can sympathize with the “protagonists.” If you aren’t, you keep hoping they die grisly deaths (Philip only looks good compared to Elizabeth and the KGB higher-ups).

    Abel was done in by his incompetent assistant, the Finnish Soviet Reino Häyhänen. Häyhänen was the classic goyish drunk type of guy, who literally spent the operational funds on alcohol and prostitutes. The entire downfall of the Soviet Union can be explained by competent Jewish (and other Soviet ethnic – Armenian, Georgian, etc.) Communists like Abel being replaced by (mostly Russian) drunks like Häyhänen. I will never forget seeing the Russian generals who mounted the aborted coup against Gorbachev go on TV to declare the coup and they were clearly drunk.

    If you think typical Russian drunk = classic goyish drunk, you’ve lost the plot. Russians are waaay over the top.

    And I don’t see all the subversive behavior of American Jews in the 20th century evincing much “openness.”

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  91. syonredux says:

    RE: The Americans,

    Watched a few eps here and there. One thing that bugged me, though, was the “accent question.” For Philip and Elizabeth (native Russian speakers) to speak English sans accent, they would have had to have started learning English at a very young age, preferably with total immersion. But the WIKI says that her training started when she was about 17:

    When she was 16 years old, the KGB approached her to join the organization and gave her a week to decide. Although she was not allowed to tell anyone about it, she told her mother everything, and her mother did not hesitate to let her serve her country. By 17 years old, she officially joined the KGB.

    KGB Training (1960-1965) Edit
    While training in Gryazi, Soviet Union, in July, 1960, she was raped by her then-captain Nikolai Timoshev after he showed her some fighting moves.

    Because she showed great promise, she was advanced to become a Directorate S operative, an undercover Soviet agent hiding in plain sight in America. As a young cadet in training, she learned how to speak English with a flawless American accent, how to be an effective spy and how to think and act like a typical American. Her name was changed to Elizabeth Korman.

    That’s far too late.

    http://theamericans.wikia.com/wiki/Elizabeth_Jennings

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    • Replies: @Svigor
    They used both protagonists' early lives (inter alia) to highlight the hard times in the USSR, excuse their pathology, etc. Kinda hard to do if they grew up as 0.1 percenters ensconced in top secret Soviet programs.
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  92. Svigor says:
    @syonredux
    RE: The Americans,

    Watched a few eps here and there. One thing that bugged me, though, was the "accent question." For Philip and Elizabeth (native Russian speakers) to speak English sans accent, they would have had to have started learning English at a very young age, preferably with total immersion. But the WIKI says that her training started when she was about 17:


    When she was 16 years old, the KGB approached her to join the organization and gave her a week to decide. Although she was not allowed to tell anyone about it, she told her mother everything, and her mother did not hesitate to let her serve her country. By 17 years old, she officially joined the KGB.

    KGB Training (1960-1965) Edit
    While training in Gryazi, Soviet Union, in July, 1960, she was raped by her then-captain Nikolai Timoshev after he showed her some fighting moves.

    Because she showed great promise, she was advanced to become a Directorate S operative, an undercover Soviet agent hiding in plain sight in America. As a young cadet in training, she learned how to speak English with a flawless American accent, how to be an effective spy and how to think and act like a typical American. Her name was changed to Elizabeth Korman.
     
    That's far too late.

    http://theamericans.wikia.com/wiki/Elizabeth_Jennings

    They used both protagonists’ early lives (inter alia) to highlight the hard times in the USSR, excuse their pathology, etc. Kinda hard to do if they grew up as 0.1 percenters ensconced in top secret Soviet programs.

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    • Replies: @Anon
    I don't know, anyway. British actor John Mahoney certainly did a mean American accent.
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  93. Bill Jones says: • Website

    The Soviets are to Russia in what passes for American minds what the Nazis are to Germany. A convenient locked in time reason for perpetual hatred and enmity. God help America, when the next victors, China get to write their history.

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  94. Anon[298] • Disclaimer says:
    @Svigor
    They used both protagonists' early lives (inter alia) to highlight the hard times in the USSR, excuse their pathology, etc. Kinda hard to do if they grew up as 0.1 percenters ensconced in top secret Soviet programs.

    I don’t know, anyway. British actor John Mahoney certainly did a mean American accent.

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    • Replies: @syonredux

    I don’t know, anyway. British actor John Mahoney certainly did a mean American accent.
     
    A Brit mastering an American accent is not nearly the same thing as a native Russian speaker being able to speak English without even the slightest trace of a Russian accent. I grew up in Northern CA and know a decent number of Russian/Ukrainian immigrants. The ones who came to the USA before the age of about 12 usually spoke English without accent. Post-12 was a different story. Indeed, I don't know any Russians/Ukrainians who arrived in their late teens who doesn't speak English with a fairly heavy accent.
    , @MBlanc46
    John Mahoney moved to the US in his teens and lived in the Chicago area most of his life. A British accent was probably more difficult for him than an American accent.
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  95. @Jack D
    I've seen some low budget movies that supposedly are set in NYC and the street shots are clearly Vancouver or somewhere that looks nothing like NYC, with above ground utility poles and back alleys and other features that NY just does not have.

    New York doesn’t have back alleys?

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    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob

    New York doesn’t have back alleys?
     
    Not in Manhattan.
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  96. @AndrewR
    I like your insights. These are things I've never really thought about. You've honestly changed the way I will analyze TV and films.

    That’s why they pay me the big bucks.

    Oh wait – no they don’t

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  97. Svigor says:

    The Soviets are to Russia in what passes for American minds what the Nazis are to Germany. A convenient locked in time reason for perpetual hatred and enmity. God help America, when the next victors, China get to write their history.

    Horseshit. The (((Big Media))) hate for Russia started after the commie vermin were swept from power.

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  98. syonredux says:
    @Anon
    I don't know, anyway. British actor John Mahoney certainly did a mean American accent.

    I don’t know, anyway. British actor John Mahoney certainly did a mean American accent.

    A Brit mastering an American accent is not nearly the same thing as a native Russian speaker being able to speak English without even the slightest trace of a Russian accent. I grew up in Northern CA and know a decent number of Russian/Ukrainian immigrants. The ones who came to the USA before the age of about 12 usually spoke English without accent. Post-12 was a different story. Indeed, I don’t know any Russians/Ukrainians who arrived in their late teens who doesn’t speak English with a fairly heavy accent.

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    • Replies: @Matthew McConnagay
    That's not particular to Russians - that's anybody. 10-15-ish is the cut-off range for accent changes: emigrate before then, and you'll get the new accent; after, you'll keep the old one; in between, who knows?

    And anyway, all of that is totally different to people deliberately putting on an accent. Plenty of actors learn an accent perfectly as an adult.
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  99. @syonredux

    I don’t know, anyway. British actor John Mahoney certainly did a mean American accent.
     
    A Brit mastering an American accent is not nearly the same thing as a native Russian speaker being able to speak English without even the slightest trace of a Russian accent. I grew up in Northern CA and know a decent number of Russian/Ukrainian immigrants. The ones who came to the USA before the age of about 12 usually spoke English without accent. Post-12 was a different story. Indeed, I don't know any Russians/Ukrainians who arrived in their late teens who doesn't speak English with a fairly heavy accent.

    That’s not particular to Russians – that’s anybody. 10-15-ish is the cut-off range for accent changes: emigrate before then, and you’ll get the new accent; after, you’ll keep the old one; in between, who knows?

    And anyway, all of that is totally different to people deliberately putting on an accent. Plenty of actors learn an accent perfectly as an adult.

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    • Replies: @syonredux

    That’s not particular to Russians – that’s anybody. 10-15-ish is the cut-off range for accent changes: emigrate before then, and you’ll get the new accent; after, you’ll keep the old one; in between, who knows?
     
    Sure, although it should be noted that language similarity plays a role. For example, all other factors being equal, a mature Dutch speaker will have an easier time mastering English than a Russian speaker.

    And anyway, all of that is totally different to people deliberately putting on an accent. Plenty of actors learn an accent perfectly as an adult.
     
    We're not just talking about mastering an accent; we're talking about native Russian speakers in their late teens mastering English to the point where their speech is indistinguishable from that of a native speaker.....
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  100. @OFWHAP
    "Tax rebates" (a euphemism for production subsidies) are the primary reason Hollywood chooses to film in any particular location. Louisiana, Georgia, Quebec, etc. pretty much pay movie/video game studios to produce in their states/provinces. Unless they MUST film on-location in CA or NY, they otherwise choose the cheaper alternatives I listed above.

    I always watch movie credits 1) to see just who has personal assistants and how many 2) to see who has his own driver, makeup artist, hair stylist, etc. and 3) to see what government is giving away tax dollars. I saw one recently where Quebec gave credits for doing the CGI work there.

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  101. @Matthew McConnagay
    New York doesn't have back alleys?

    New York doesn’t have back alleys?

    Not in Manhattan.

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  102. syonredux says:
    @Matthew McConnagay
    That's not particular to Russians - that's anybody. 10-15-ish is the cut-off range for accent changes: emigrate before then, and you'll get the new accent; after, you'll keep the old one; in between, who knows?

    And anyway, all of that is totally different to people deliberately putting on an accent. Plenty of actors learn an accent perfectly as an adult.

    That’s not particular to Russians – that’s anybody. 10-15-ish is the cut-off range for accent changes: emigrate before then, and you’ll get the new accent; after, you’ll keep the old one; in between, who knows?

    Sure, although it should be noted that language similarity plays a role. For example, all other factors being equal, a mature Dutch speaker will have an easier time mastering English than a Russian speaker.

    And anyway, all of that is totally different to people deliberately putting on an accent. Plenty of actors learn an accent perfectly as an adult.

    We’re not just talking about mastering an accent; we’re talking about native Russian speakers in their late teens mastering English to the point where their speech is indistinguishable from that of a native speaker…..

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    • Replies: @Svigor
    Yeah, to paraphrase James Woods, "we get one take, it lasts our whole lives, and if we mess it up, we're dead."
    , @Anon

    mastering English
     

    mastering an accent
     
    In this context, these are the same thing: mastering enunciation as opposed to mastering grammar and vocabulary. I see no reason why a naturally talented individual put through a rigorous course of several years should not be able to alter an accent.

    I think it highly unlikely that more than a few of your Russian friends put serious effort into altering their enunciation, because there's really no significant benefit to that in the US.

    Btw, Mahoney was originally a Mancunian-- quite a far cry from any kind of English spoken here in America.
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  103. Svigor says:
    @syonredux

    That’s not particular to Russians – that’s anybody. 10-15-ish is the cut-off range for accent changes: emigrate before then, and you’ll get the new accent; after, you’ll keep the old one; in between, who knows?
     
    Sure, although it should be noted that language similarity plays a role. For example, all other factors being equal, a mature Dutch speaker will have an easier time mastering English than a Russian speaker.

    And anyway, all of that is totally different to people deliberately putting on an accent. Plenty of actors learn an accent perfectly as an adult.
     
    We're not just talking about mastering an accent; we're talking about native Russian speakers in their late teens mastering English to the point where their speech is indistinguishable from that of a native speaker.....

    Yeah, to paraphrase James Woods, “we get one take, it lasts our whole lives, and if we mess it up, we’re dead.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    Yeah, the show is pretty unrealistic on that score when it would be easier to infiltrate Jews (or pretend Jews) or pretend White Russians or something. But it is not remotely implausible to alter an accent with proper speech training, and most people in most situations wouldn't notice if you made a mistake occasionally.
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  104. Anon[298] • Disclaimer says:
    @syonredux

    That’s not particular to Russians – that’s anybody. 10-15-ish is the cut-off range for accent changes: emigrate before then, and you’ll get the new accent; after, you’ll keep the old one; in between, who knows?
     
    Sure, although it should be noted that language similarity plays a role. For example, all other factors being equal, a mature Dutch speaker will have an easier time mastering English than a Russian speaker.

    And anyway, all of that is totally different to people deliberately putting on an accent. Plenty of actors learn an accent perfectly as an adult.
     
    We're not just talking about mastering an accent; we're talking about native Russian speakers in their late teens mastering English to the point where their speech is indistinguishable from that of a native speaker.....

    mastering English

    mastering an accent

    In this context, these are the same thing: mastering enunciation as opposed to mastering grammar and vocabulary. I see no reason why a naturally talented individual put through a rigorous course of several years should not be able to alter an accent.

    I think it highly unlikely that more than a few of your Russian friends put serious effort into altering their enunciation, because there’s really no significant benefit to that in the US.

    Btw, Mahoney was originally a Mancunian– quite a far cry from any kind of English spoken here in America.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    In this context, these are the same thing: mastering enunciation as opposed to mastering grammar and vocabulary. I see no reason why a naturally talented individual put through a rigorous course of several years should not be able to alter an accent.
     
    Theoretically, sure. And, again, the task will be easier if the languages are closely related. To use my go-to example, Dutch and English are closely related, and Dutch actors can frequently pass the accent test and pass as native speakers.

    On the other hand, take French. It's not nearly as closely related....and it's pretty hard for French actors to completely lose the Gallic traces in their voice. Cf Eve Green. She speaks English really well....but there's a non-Anglo quality to her voice that she just can't seem to lose....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=695zr8qQ44g

    I think it highly unlikely that more than a few of your Russian friends put serious effort into altering their enunciation, because there’s really no significant benefit to that in the US.
     
    Dunno. I know a Russian gal who immigrated here at 18, she's now in her late 30s and a nurse, and she's worked really, really hard at speaking English without a Russian accent...but you can still hear non-Anglo elements in her speech....

    Btw, Mahoney was originally a Mancunian– quite a far cry from any kind of English spoken here in America.

     

    Yeah, but going from speaking English with a Mancunian accent to speaking English with a General American accent (at which Mahoney had a lot of practice; he immigrated to the USA at the age of 18 and didn't start acting until he was in his thirties) is just not the same thing as going from speaking Russian to speaking perfect, accent-free English....
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  105. Anon[298] • Disclaimer says:
    @Svigor
    Yeah, to paraphrase James Woods, "we get one take, it lasts our whole lives, and if we mess it up, we're dead."

    Yeah, the show is pretty unrealistic on that score when it would be easier to infiltrate Jews (or pretend Jews) or pretend White Russians or something. But it is not remotely implausible to alter an accent with proper speech training, and most people in most situations wouldn’t notice if you made a mistake occasionally.

    Read More
    • Replies: @syonredux

    But it is not remotely implausible to alter an accent with proper speech training, and most people in most situations wouldn’t notice if you made a mistake occasionally.
     
    Yes, you would. I have a German colleague, and, when I first met her, I did not know that she was from Germany (her specialty is 19th century American lit). Now, her English is excellent ( She attended both college and graduate school in the USA). However, after a few minutes of conversation, I noticed that something was slightly "off" about her accent. I wasn't completely sure about her origins, but I suspected that she was probably a native German speaker.....And I was right....

    Imagine that scenario with a Russian deep-cover operative who's trying to pass as a native-born American....
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  106. syonredux says:
    @Anon

    mastering English
     

    mastering an accent
     
    In this context, these are the same thing: mastering enunciation as opposed to mastering grammar and vocabulary. I see no reason why a naturally talented individual put through a rigorous course of several years should not be able to alter an accent.

    I think it highly unlikely that more than a few of your Russian friends put serious effort into altering their enunciation, because there's really no significant benefit to that in the US.

    Btw, Mahoney was originally a Mancunian-- quite a far cry from any kind of English spoken here in America.

    In this context, these are the same thing: mastering enunciation as opposed to mastering grammar and vocabulary. I see no reason why a naturally talented individual put through a rigorous course of several years should not be able to alter an accent.

    Theoretically, sure. And, again, the task will be easier if the languages are closely related. To use my go-to example, Dutch and English are closely related, and Dutch actors can frequently pass the accent test and pass as native speakers.

    On the other hand, take French. It’s not nearly as closely related….and it’s pretty hard for French actors to completely lose the Gallic traces in their voice. Cf Eve Green. She speaks English really well….but there’s a non-Anglo quality to her voice that she just can’t seem to lose….

    I think it highly unlikely that more than a few of your Russian friends put serious effort into altering their enunciation, because there’s really no significant benefit to that in the US.

    Dunno. I know a Russian gal who immigrated here at 18, she’s now in her late 30s and a nurse, and she’s worked really, really hard at speaking English without a Russian accent…but you can still hear non-Anglo elements in her speech….

    Btw, Mahoney was originally a Mancunian– quite a far cry from any kind of English spoken here in America.

    Yeah, but going from speaking English with a Mancunian accent to speaking English with a General American accent (at which Mahoney had a lot of practice; he immigrated to the USA at the age of 18 and didn’t start acting until he was in his thirties) is just not the same thing as going from speaking Russian to speaking perfect, accent-free English….

    Read More
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  107. syonredux says:
    @Anon
    Yeah, the show is pretty unrealistic on that score when it would be easier to infiltrate Jews (or pretend Jews) or pretend White Russians or something. But it is not remotely implausible to alter an accent with proper speech training, and most people in most situations wouldn't notice if you made a mistake occasionally.

    But it is not remotely implausible to alter an accent with proper speech training, and most people in most situations wouldn’t notice if you made a mistake occasionally.

    Yes, you would. I have a German colleague, and, when I first met her, I did not know that she was from Germany (her specialty is 19th century American lit). Now, her English is excellent ( She attended both college and graduate school in the USA). However, after a few minutes of conversation, I noticed that something was slightly “off” about her accent. I wasn’t completely sure about her origins, but I suspected that she was probably a native German speaker…..And I was right….

    Imagine that scenario with a Russian deep-cover operative who’s trying to pass as a native-born American….

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anon
    Fair enough; I still think that there would be other "trips", so to speak, before the accent, but though I've spoken with people from various parts of the world who speak with an elocution-trained accent, I have not had your experience of speaking with them before I learned they were non-native speakers, so I suppose I should accept your evidence on the point.
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  108. Anon[298] • Disclaimer says:
    @syonredux

    But it is not remotely implausible to alter an accent with proper speech training, and most people in most situations wouldn’t notice if you made a mistake occasionally.
     
    Yes, you would. I have a German colleague, and, when I first met her, I did not know that she was from Germany (her specialty is 19th century American lit). Now, her English is excellent ( She attended both college and graduate school in the USA). However, after a few minutes of conversation, I noticed that something was slightly "off" about her accent. I wasn't completely sure about her origins, but I suspected that she was probably a native German speaker.....And I was right....

    Imagine that scenario with a Russian deep-cover operative who's trying to pass as a native-born American....

    Fair enough; I still think that there would be other “trips”, so to speak, before the accent, but though I’ve spoken with people from various parts of the world who speak with an elocution-trained accent, I have not had your experience of speaking with them before I learned they were non-native speakers, so I suppose I should accept your evidence on the point.

    Read More
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  109. @Anon
    I've worked in the legal field, and this bugged me too. I think there's no problem with simply changing your name, legally, and I suppose Jimmy's reason is to "put the tragedy" of his brother's death behind him. He wasn't disbarred, right, so no one could refuse to let him appear in court. The real problem is that none of this was ever alluded to in BB. It's like the backstory in Godfather II was that Vito was a WWI air ace or something.

    I have a bigger problem with Chuck himself. If Chuck is such a super-duper lawyer, WTF is he in New Mexico? I know why Yale-educated lawyers like Bill and Hill went to Arkansas: it's a small state and easy to take over. But Chuck is a straight-shooter, so why bury yourself in NM? Sure, people (supposedly) like to retire there and live in wacky desert houses, but Chuck doesn't.

    It also bugged me when Jimmy was given praise for accepting a job at this high-profile prestigious law firm based out of – Santa Fe?

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  110. MBlanc46 says:
    @Anon
    I don't know, anyway. British actor John Mahoney certainly did a mean American accent.

    John Mahoney moved to the US in his teens and lived in the Chicago area most of his life. A British accent was probably more difficult for him than an American accent.

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