29 JULY 2014
In the hit Cold War TV drama series The Americans, one of the main weapons both the KGB and the CIA-FBI deploy against each other is sex. The story of the undercover Soviet spies posing as the all-American apple pie family, Elisabeth and Phillip Jennings, swirls around issues of infidelity, bedroom betrayals, pillow talk and the ever-present threat of blackmail in the background.
The Jennings’ unsuspecting nemesis and neighbour, the FBI spy catcher Stan Beeman, is himself using his sexual prowess to seduce an attractive female Russian agent who initially turns to the American because she has been sexually exploited and abused by a senior KGB operative at the USSR embassy in Washington DC.
The Americans plot line and the heavy emphasis on lust, love and treachery (of both the sexual and political kind) is laden with hammed up Holywood-style psycho-drama although to be fair its creator Joe Weisberg was a CIA case officer who served on the Cold War frontline.
Indeed, the series and its main premise is not so far-fetched perhaps when you consider the long history of how intelligence services used sexual blackmail to recruit and “turn’ agents, including here in Northern Ireland.
Back in the mid-1970s there was little or no sign of the Cold War thawing and in the UK there was a real sense of national crisis and decline.
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