“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.