The Americans, a newish show on FX, is doing everything right. Sites, sounds, and popular culture of Washington D.C. during the cold war, mixed with apparitions of EST, nuclear fear and confusion. Historical fiction relies on popular culture, and the writers didn’t forget the best part of DC life: inside-beltway humor.
Growing up in Washington, D.C. during the Cold War never seemed any different than anywhere else, because we were kids. There was a dark umbrella most adults ominously called an Iron Curtain and monthly bomb drills at school. In the Nation’s Capitol, there was no escaping angst of the cold war.
Thankfully there was TV.
Local news was usually national news, but on the hyperlocal level life was good. We had Captain 20, while our local CBS affiliate (channel 9) aired The George Michael Sports Machine after 11:30pm on Sundays.
We had Jhoon Rhee Tae Kwon Do. Always on between cartoons, all the time. Nobody wanted to be bothered by bad guys, and this local ad is iconic for a lot of cold war era Washingtonians.
The Americans got it right, as Martha tells Clark there’s something …still….bothering her, S2E8:
And here, where OK, Go covers it after Damian reminisces about growing up in DC: