lizcommotion: a photo of a globe (world)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
So I started watching The Americans last night, which for those of you who have not seen it is a show about KGB spies living as Americans in the DC Metro region during the 1980s. I am entertained so far, though parts of my brain keep SCREAMING during the show because I know a lot about the various locations they keep talking about and some of them...don't make sense.

Care to learn more? Spoilers ahoy!
  • The KGB spies the show focuses on live, allegedly, in Falls Church, VA. Now, Falls Church is a charming area and one my folks considered buying a house in at one point, so I'm fairly familiar with what the houses look like. They are, for the most part, 1940s-ish houses and kind of quirky. (There was one that, for a time, was painted purple, though I doubt it was painted purple in the 1980s.) Some of the houses are 1960s ramblers if you go further out from the "City of Falls Church." The houses, in other words, are small. They tend to have bigger plots of land around them. There is a big tree canopy. The roads are fairly narrow. Um, I am fairly certain the development where the KGB agents alleged house is isn't in Falls Church. It looks more like a 1990s/2000s "Monster Mansion" (which, um, how do travel agents afford that? Housing is expensive in DC! Even in the 1980s. Like, currently, a house like that costs upwards of $1 million, depending on where it's located.) Big house, way bigger than was being built then, very few trees, etc. Basically, the opposite of Falls Church. It looks more like McLean, which is a very wealthy area where CIA headquarters (Langley) is located. Um, anyway, I digress. Housing choice: unrealistic.
  • The spies apparently run a travel agency. Although they live in Virginia, the travel agency is in DC. In Dupont Circle. Now, currently Dupont Circle is the epitome of hip and happening and young things and stuff. Makes sense to locate a travel agency there, I suppose, though right now travel agency = internet. In the 1980s, Dupont Circle was poor and queer and artists. Not exactly the kind of people who would wander in and book a flight somewhere, so...why have the travel agency in DC at all, and not in Virginia? Unless, of course, you wanted to be close to Embassy Row (in Dupont Circle) or have an excuse to go to DC without raising suspicions. But if I was your FBI neighbor and I thought about the location of your travel agency, I'd have to wonder: why Dupont Circle?
  • Also also, they seem to drive to work. That is a crap idea, unless you happen to have after-hours spy-work to do. Seriously though, Falls Church is by a ton of Metro stops and the Metro goes right to Dupont Circle. And parking is a pain in the *butt* in DC (the meters are all 2-hour and if you go to a parking lot it's super-spendy, current-day prices are $10-20 a day depending on if you get the early bird special) and so is traffic. It makes way more sense to take the Metro than to drive, so this behavior would again arouse my suspicion if I was your FBI neighbor and I thought about things.
  • Finally: they film Stephen (the male KGB agent) going for a jog. I was like, "I know where he is jogging...where is that?" And then I was like, "Oh, he is jogging by the outside of Arlington National Cemetery...wait...that is a super long jog from Falls Church. WAY LONG. Like, if he jogged a tiny bit more, he would be in DC." Google Maps puts a jog there at a 14 mile round trip, approximately. And he is barely sweating when he gets back. And if he did live in Falls Church, it would make *way more sense* for him to jog on the W&OD Trail, which is a multi-use Bike/Running/Etc. trail that goes right through Falls Church and will take you to either Arlington or way out west to Leesburg-ish. He didn't do any spy-work on the jog, so...I guess he just really likes super-long jogs to stay in shape for spying? IDEK. I am probably nit-picking, but, it pushed my buttons.

Anyway, basically what I am saying is, I like The Americans so far, and it is also fun to nitpick about why their location choices are so ridiculously unrealistic. (But I guess it depends on where they can get access to film?)

Date: 2014-03-08 05:15 pm (UTC)
jelazakazone: black squid on a variegated red background (Default)
From: [personal profile] jelazakazone
I have a hard time watching shows that are ostensibly set in DC. Like, they get the metro completely wrong and it bugs me. So, I totally hear you. When they do that, it messes with my head.

Date: 2014-03-08 06:10 pm (UTC)
sine_nomine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sine_nomine
My Big Fat Greek Wedding was supposed to take place in Chicago. I took one look at it and said, "They shot this in Toronto." I was right. They did have a couple Chicago exterior shots but that was it.

Date: 2014-03-08 07:56 pm (UTC)
anke: (Default)
From: [personal profile] anke
I hear that Due South was shot in Toronto despite taking place in Chicago... Apart from one episode that takes place in Toronto, which, logically, was shot in Chicago.

Date: 2014-03-09 07:42 am (UTC)
sine_nomine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sine_nomine
I'm not familiar with Due South. What is it?

Another two Chicago manglings that leap off the top of my head were "When Harry Met Sally" (iirc, it's Harry who drives off the University of Chicago campus through a gate that is never open in a manner that would allow a car to pass through it... well, except for the day that they filmed the scene, clearly!) and "Nothing in Common". Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks are father and son... and there are many shots looking out of windows down onto landmarks that are nowhere near where one is looking out of said window.

I might be able to come up with more if I think harder.

Date: 2014-03-09 08:16 am (UTC)
anke: (Default)
From: [personal profile] anke
TV series about a mountie partnering up with a police officer in Chicago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_South

Date: 2014-03-10 12:45 am (UTC)
sine_nomine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sine_nomine
Huh. I'll have to check it out. Thank you! :-)

Date: 2014-03-10 12:45 am (UTC)
sine_nomine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sine_nomine
I'm fascinated by all the comments on this post.

Date: 2014-03-08 07:12 pm (UTC)
phlox: Bright pink phlox-shaped flower (Default)
From: [personal profile] phlox
Sounds like part of the fun really *is* nit-picking! And I am glad that apparently the show is fun on its own, with Bonus!mental stimulation from figuring out where it's *so wrong*! I've only been to DC once, but the idea of driving almost anywhere (unless you're in, say, a presidential motorcade) does strike me as a terrible plan. (Taking a brief taxi trip when I discovered that the Sunday Metro service was not the same as other-day Metro service was bad enough!

Your comment prompted me to do research--not much ;) --and I discovered that the first bits of the Metro opened for business in 1973, and the first bits of the Metrorail opened in 1976. Pretty speedy, really!

I wonder what the thinking behind some of the choices made by the producer(s), writers, location scouts, whomever was on a lot of these! I mean, okay, bigger house than makes sense probably makes filming a bit easier, but why not make the claimed location something that matches with the architecture? Even if the architecture and resulting claimed location would be really crummy for keeping a low profile. ;)

And I love that Mr Spy took a 14-mile run and wasn't even winded at the end of it. Apparently he's *really* in shape. And likes running places without multi-use trails. (Since you're mentioning it, I am guessing that the trail's been there since at least the '80s!)

(Edited because auto-correct was "helping" too much ;p)
Edited Date: 2014-03-08 07:14 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-08 11:51 pm (UTC)
jae: (theamericansgecko)
From: [personal profile] jae
The Americans actually films in Brooklyn and other areas around New York City. So that would be why you don't recognize D.C. locations. I think they do pretty well given that, though!

Also, the male spy's name is Philip, not Stephen. :)

By the way, if you feel like talking about the show or want to keep up with news about it, come join us at [community profile] theamericans!

-J

Date: 2014-03-18 01:17 pm (UTC)
geeksdoitbetter: (Default)
From: [personal profile] geeksdoitbetter
" if I was your FBI neighbor "

~snerk~

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