They’re both spy dramas about a secret Russian cell living undercover in the U.S. who are caught between the demands of their motherland’s intelligence agency while trying to avoid being discovered by the FBI. And FX’s The Americans came first. So why wouldn’t viewers think NBC’s Allegiance is ripping off the cable drama?
“Watch one or two episodes ands it’s pretty clear we’re going in a different direction,” said executive producer and director George Nolfi at the TCA press tour on Friday. “This is fundamentally a family drama [about a family] who do not want to be spies. They face the possibility of death from the SVR or life imprisonment at hands of the U.S.” That is different than in The Americans, whose central couple are generally on board with Russia’s agenda.
Another difference is The Americans is set during the 1980s and Allegiance is current day. “Our show is… dealing with [an] imminent danger and it’s a post 9-11 generation,” Nolfi said. “It’s different than what The Americans is.”
Star Gavin Stenhouse agreed: “A lot of shows have superficially similar premises,” the actor said, and noted that Broadchurch and True Detective are “based on similar [story ideas] even though it’s a different emotional journey for viewers.”
Allegiance is also based on an Israeli format, The Gordin Cell, which came out in 2012—one year before The Americans.
Allegiance debuts Thursday, Feb. 5 on NBC.