The comparisons, many admit, are just going to happen. One's a present-day show about a terrorist who lives in America with his seemingly normal family. The other's a show set in the 1980s about two KGB agents living in America with their seemingly normal family. The former is, obviously, Showtime's Emmy-winning Homeland. The latter is FX's new The Americans, which premieres Wednesday. The comparisons are perhaps, unfair — in a New York Times story about The Americans, FX president John Landgraf noted that The Americans was picked up before Homeland even debuted. Both The Hollywood Reporter and Huffington Post use the word "inevitable" when talking about the comparisons between the two shows. And while viewers should always give every non-spinoff show its own chance, after watching the first two episodes last night we couldn't help but find even more similarities. Let's break them down, without any real important spoilers.
The Leading Lady's Angsty Past
Homeland: Claire Danes starred on My So-Called Life.
The Americans: Keri Russell was the titular (and controversially-haired) character on Felicity.
The Non-American Leading Men
Homeland: Damian Lewis is British and has Welsh roots.
The Americans: Matthew Rhys is Welsh.
The Spies Next Door
Homeland: Nicholas Brody, a sergeant who was held as a POW for eight years. He's been "turned" by his captor, Abu Nazir, and works for him after he returns home to America. In the second season of the show he's a congressman by day.
The Americans: Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), KGB spies who left behind their lives in the Soviet Union to fight for their country on American soil. Their marriage was arranged by the spy agency, but they now have two children and work by day as travel agents, while sometimes breaking to put on costumes, threaten people, and spy on the Secretary of Defense.
The Government Agent Whose Hunch Is Correct
Homeland: Carrie Mathison, bipolar CIA agent, believes that Brody is a terrorist from the start. So much so that she installs surveillance equipment in his home during the first season to watch his every move.
The Americans: Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), FBI counterintelligence agent, is suspicious of Elizabeth and Philip. So much so that he breaks in to their garage to check whether or not they are hiding a KGB defector in their trunk of their Oldsmobile. They had, in fact, been hiding him, but they got rid of him by the time Beeman snooped.
The Moody Teenage Daughter
Homeland: Dana Brody, Nicholas Brody's daughter, smokes pot, hates her mom, is suspicious of her dad, and dates a boy, the vice-president's son, who is not so good for her or her family.
The Americans: Paige Jennings, the daughter of Elizabeth and Philips, wears increasingly provocative clothing, doesn't want to go to the mall with her mom to buy a bra, and is interested in a boy, Stan Beeman's son, who is potentially not so good for her or her family.
The Ignored Son
Homeland: Chris Brody, who is always asked to leave the room.
The Americans: Henry Jennings, whose mother doesn't really seem to care what happens to his comic-book heroes.
The Americans: Late 70s/early 80s classics, including a great use of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" and a tired use of Phil Collins's "In the Air Tonight."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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