“The Americans”: A New Reality TV Show Starring Melania and Donald

So FX has a series titled The Americans, now in Season Five, in which a pair of Soviet spies are masquerading as a married American couple. I’ve always liked the female lead, Keri Russell, who was in the charming indie movie, Waitress, back in 2007. She makes for a terrific spy, which is fun . . . as long as it’s fiction.

As fact—even “alternative fact”—the result isn’t quite so funny. (Okay, just a little bit. Lampooning Donald is like Ham on Wry.) Maybe it’s just me, but I’m starting to have the sneaky suspicion that what we’re experiencing with the U.S. presidency right now is more like a reality-TV version of the show, with worse acting—note Donald’s creepy handshake of the Japanese PM, Conway’s shameless hawking of Ivanka’s “products” on Fox News, the Orwellian doublespeak foaming out of the mouth of Sean Spicer. I mean, look at this picture: Doesn’t Melania look like a Cover Girl spy, a Victoria’s Secret version of the Angela Lansbury spy-mom/puppeteer in The Manchurian Candidate (1962)?

Melania is doing her best to remind us all of Boris & Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle fame, right? Or Helene, Pierre’s devious wife in Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1869). Hear the voiceover? A Russian accent hissing, “You stupid Americans. We steal country out from under your nose, and laugh at you. Ha ha ha! Welcome to gulag, Yankee pig dog!”

About williamjcobb

William J. Cobb is a novelist, essayist, and short fiction writer whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The Mississippi Review, The Antioch Review, and many others. He’s the author of two novels—The Fire Eaters (W.W. Norton 1994) and Goodnight, Texas (Unbridled 2006)—and a book of stories, The White Tattoo (Ohio State UP 2002). He has reviewed books for the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and the New York Times. He lives in Pennsylvania and Colorado. He may be contacted at wjcobb@gmail.com.
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