The family is away at a rustic cabin, and Philip goes into “town” to buy breakfast and I see him walking out of Holtermann’s Bakery on Staten Island that’s only a few blocks from where my parents live, thus ruining any realism that the scene had. After that, I noticed that in a lot of outdoor scenes, the architecture looks like Staten Island and not anywhere in the DC area that I’m familiar with.
After I finished watching the series, I did some internet research, and yes, this show is not shot in Hollywood, and it’s not shot on location in Fall Church or in DC. The production office is in Brooklyn, and Staten Island is the preferred borough for shooting outdoor scenes, but they shoot all around the New York City metropolitan area.
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Now that we get the weirdness of the shooting location out of the way, let’s talk about this series. Awesome! I liked it even better than Mr. Robot, and there are three seasons of it to enjoy. The premise is that the series starts off in 1981, and the main characters, Elizabeth and Philip, are Russian spies and assassins who have been trained to speak perfect English and were planted here in the 1960s. They have two children who don’t know that their parents are spies. And their next door neighbor happens to be an FBI agent working in counter-intelligence.
I could complain that this is yet another TV series or movie that uses the trope of the Hot Girl Who Kicks Ass, or in this case more like a MILF who kicks ass. Keri “Felicity” Russell is a skinny 5’4” woman who doesn’t look like she could kick ass, even with advanced KGB unarmed combat training.
Leaving that complaint aside, the series is an absolutely wonderful mélange of spy intrigue, action, and family drama. It’s mind-bending for more than just the reason that it makes you sympathetic to KGB agents. This is a very much a dark psychological drama which makes you ponder the true meaning of truth, honesty and loyalty. It explores the emotions of being a parent more so than many a conventional family drama that I’ve watched.
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Even though one of the main characters is a MILF who kicks ass, I find the show very anti-feminist. Women in the show are either stupid and easily fooled (like the homely FBI secretary who Philip seduces and scams) or evil seductresses who use sex to get what they want from men.
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If you are old enough to remember the eighties, you will get a kick out of all the eighties stuff like VHS movie rentals, answering machines with cassette tapes in them, old telephones, old televisions, old videogames, and a lot of old computers with green screens and big 5 ¼” floppy disks, plus typewriters.
The outdoor and on-location scenes, unfortunately, have the occasional anachronism in them.
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One thing this show gets completely wrong about the 80s is the hairstyles. They really need to watch this Bangles video (wow what an awesome video).
And more great 80s hair: The Bangles – Walk Like an Egyptian.