Recreating a certain era in time can be a daunting task for any TV series, but recreating the volatile and complicated world of undercover spies in the 1980s could have been an insurmountable task. Fortunately, the team behind The Americans, wrapping up its final season on May 30, can rest assured that they have the stamp of approval from a former CIA agent regarding their authenticity of espionage.
Jonna Hiestand Mendez, a former Chief of Disguises from the Office of Technical Service, writes in an editorial for The Washington Post that The Americans has been one of the few spy-inspired projects that portrays her work accurately.
"From the first spectacular episode, I was hooked, because the setup resonated," Mendez, now a speaker and adviser at the Spy Museum in Washington, writes. "The structure of the FX show, predicated on the family dynamics that result when espionage is the parental career, allowed for a thoughtful exploration of the necessity to manage the daily deception that is part of the job of a spy (or, as we would call it at the CIA, an operations officer)."
Mendez even went to the same tradecraft school as co-creator and former CIA officer Joe Weisberg, where they both "learned the same lessons."
"When I watched Matthew Rhys, the husband on The Americans, speed in reverse through an FBI roadblock in the final episode of Season 1, well, I have practiced that maneuver countless times, wrecking more than one car while learning the procedure," she recalls. "They did it right."
To read more about Mendez’s take on The Americans and which parts of the show were seemingly pulled directly from her time with the CIA, read her entire piece on The Washington Post.
Watch every episode of The Americans final season on FXNOW.