Why The Americans Will Have You Cheering for the Cold War Enemy

The Americans depicts married KGB officers embedded in the United States.

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Phillip Jennings on FX's "The Americans."

Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Phillip Jennings on FX's "The Americans."

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Though Weisberg says one of the reasons he got into fiction writing (he is also the author of two novels) is to "avoid doing research," he turned to Russian sources to supplement his own experiences traveling abroad and working for the CIA. Weisberg drew upon a wealth of records turned over by a KGB archivist after he defected to Great Britain, which described extensively the type of agent on which Elizabeth and Phil are modeled.

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Weisberg also read a number of memoirs by KGB officers that emerged after the iron curtain fell. "It was interesting to read those because they just read a lot like the memoirs of former CIA officers," Weisberg says. "That was the reason doing a show about KGB officers seemed like a good idea, because they didn't seem like enemies, or horrible, crazy sociopaths. They seemed to be like normal, everyday guys I knew in the CIA."

The Americans premieres Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 10 p.m. on FX.

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