Allegiance vs. The Americans: How Is NBC's Russian Spy Drama Is Different?

Allegiance NBC The Americans

Is NBC’s upcoming Allegiance just a contemporary, broadcast TV take on The Americans?

Nyet, says the executive producer of the new drama, which centers around a young, idealistic CIA analyst (played by Gavin Stenhouse of the UK’s Iconicles) who is unaware that his parents (Gilmore Girls‘ Scott Cohen and The Newsroom‘s Hope Davis) as well as his sister (Revenge‘s Margarita Levieva) are part of a dormant Russian sleeper cell that has just been reactivated.

“Watch one or two episodes [of Allegiance] and I think it’s pretty clear that we’re going in a different direction,” EP George Nolfi said Friday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “This is, fundamentally, a family drama about people who really do not want to be spies. They’re forced into this situation. That’s just an extremely different setup, and then where we take it is really different, as well.”

Added star Stenhouse: “A lot of shows, I feel, have superficially similar premises. They’re based on similar things, but they’re a different emotional journey for the viewer. It’s born out of a completely different equation of actors and writers.”

Cohen also noted that the NBC drama is “dealing with an imminent danger” and “a post-9/11 generation” in its central character of Alex, “which is a bit different than what The Americans is.”

Leningrad-born Levieva, who is fluent in Russian, “definitely felt like [this was] one of those roles that comes once in a while that you were born to play,” adding that she’s turned down many Russian parts “because they’re written very stereotypically.” But when Allegiance came along, “I immediately felt like this was something I had to be a part of,” she continued. “The characters are so rich, and the way we deal with the Russian aspect is so authentic.”

And she can act as an on-set tutor to her TV mom Hope Davis!

“I was very excited to have something new to tackle in my life, and learning Russian is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to learn,” Davis shared after displaying some of her foreign language skills on stage. “I’m learning as fast as I can.”

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9 Comments
  1. Tran says:

    Really looking forward to it. This should give a big boost for a Blacklist lead-in and topped Elementary in the 10 p.m. Thursday night time slot. Looks promising and a must-see.

  2. Mike says:

    I know they said it’s different from The Americans because they don’t want to be spies anymore, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the direction The Americans’ producers are planning to eventually take the show, so maybe they’re not so different? Either way, I think I might give this a try. I’m sure it will at least have a different feel to it.

    • JKR says:

      Exactly. I’ll still give it a go. However, I’d imagine The Americans could end with Philip and Elizabeth bringing Paige to the fold and seeking asylum / going into hiding while keeping Henry out of the loop. This comes across as The Americans in today’s world. I’m hoping that past that many similarities the shows will have a different dynamic.

    • herman1959 says:

      I agree, this could be the storyline of The Americans a few years down the line – the husband/dad was ready to defect anyway. And, I don’t buy that “a lot” of shows have similar premises…hmmm.

      • johnhelvete says:

        In fairness to the actor, the quote above omits the shows that he was comparing, The Killing, True Detective, Broadchurch and the Missing. Based on some fans of the Killing that seem to feel that all shows that are one season one single case shows about the murder of a child are ripoffs of the Killing, I completely agree with the actor.

      • CGS says:

        Based on loglines only you can find countless clone shows of each other, doesn’t make them all clones of each other. But that statement was 100% IMO.

  3. Julie says:

    In my opinion, The Americans is the best show on television. All ads / previews I’ve seen for this show have immediately made me think “rip off” except set in the present vs the early ’80’s. The article does give me hope that they are different so I will give it a shot. But it’s going to be hard to duplicate the awesomeness that is The Americans.

  4. Shepperd November says:

    The Americans is closer to real life and one must pay close attention to keep up . I’m a limo driver and one of my regular passengers is retired F.B.I. ( or so he says ) and his stories have been fascinating. Allegiance is more T.V. spy vs spy. Still , it is enjoyable. As an avid reader of Tom Clancy and other political novel writers I find Allegiance to be a good blend of fantasy spy action that’s just realistic enough to be believable.

  5. Shepperd November says:

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that Russia has a show portraying the S.V.R as the good guys and the C.I.A–F.B.I as the bad guys.