11:36am PT by Bryn Elise Sandberg
NBC's 'Allegiance' Creator Shoots Down 'Americans' Comparisons
NBC's upcoming series Allegiance has drawn comparisons to FX's period thriller The Americans: They're both Russian-centered spy dramas about undercover KGB agents. But creator George Nolfi suggests the similarities end there.
"This is ultimately a family drama about people who really do not want to be spies, yet they’re forced into this situation," he said onstage Friday at the Television Critics Associations winter press tour. His series, which bows Feb. 5, follows a young CIA analyst (Gavin Stenhouse) specializing in Russian affairs who learns that his parents are former KGB agents who have been re-enlisted to orchestrate a terrorist operation within America.
"On the one hand, they face the possibility of death at the SVR and on the other hand, life imprisonment at the hands of the U.S. government," Nolfi explained. "That’s just an extremely different set up than [The Americans]. Watch one or two episodes and it’s clear that we're going in a very different direction."
Stenhouse chimed in about the similarities between other television programs on the air. "I see a lot of shows that I feel have superficially similar premises. Some of my favorite ones — True Detective, The Killing, The Missing, Broadchurch — are based on similar things but offer a completely differently emotional journey for the viewers. I myself enjoyed every single one without feeling like any one [concept] had been robbed," he said, insisting that they had done nothing of the sort with the Keri Russell-Matthew Rhys starrer. "It’s born out of a completely different equation of writers and actors."
Among the differences between the dramas is the time period in which they're set. While The Americans takes place in the 1980s, Allegiance is a modern-day narrative. "We’re dealing with the idea of a post-9/11 generation, with characters like Alex, who grew up in New York and witnessed the horror of the attacks," star Scott Cohen said of the more current storylines The Americans is unable to explore. "That's an important part of the difference."
Watch a trailer for Allegiance below: