Spies in disguises, dramatic arrests, an international incident between cold war “frenemies;” if the news today of U.S. diplomat Ryan Fogle being arrested in Moscow and expelled from the country for allegedly trying to recruit a Russian to spy for the CIA sounds like a plot from a television show, that’s because it very well could be.
One of the breakout hits from the year’s television season is FX’s “The Americans,” a show featuring a couple of married KGB agents, Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings, who are a normal “American” family by day, but by night act as Russian spies.
Set during the height of the Cold War in 1981, the couple rely primarily on human intelligence to do their job, recruiting Americans from all walks of life and persuading them by any means necessary to turn on their country and spy for the Kremlin.
Similar to the blond wig found on Fogle when he was arrested, one of the major features of the show is the various and sometimes ridiculous disguises the characters wear when going to meet potential or current “recruits.”
Watch Kerri Russell, who portrays Elizabeth, in a sexy black wig as she seduces a deputy CIA chief! Now look at her in oversized glasses and bowl cut wig looking dowdy! Matthew Rhys, who portrays her husband Phillip, gets in on the action too with a wig that actually makes him look like his hair is thinning and glasses he wears at all times, even while being intimate with one of his targets.
But the spying and the danger is no joking matter. The creator of the show, Joseph Weisberg, who worked for the CIA for four years in the 1990s, said he was inspired by the 2010 investigation by the FBI revealing that at least 10 Russian spies had been living in America for more than a decade undetected. But Weisberg said he ultimately decided to base the show in the 1980s.
“A modern day [setting] didn’t seem like a good idea. People were both shocked and simultaneously shrugged at the  scandal because it didn’t seem like we were really enemies with Russia anymore,” Weisberg told Time Magazine in an interview before the show’s premiere last January.
But the news today of an American, whose alleged day job was as a diplomat, being arrested wearing a disguise and carrying recruitment tools (although possibly planted) while allegedly working his source for American intelligence proves that, Cold War or not, in 2013 there could still be room for a show about “The Russians.”
“When I saw this, I laughed because I thought of all the people that have been saying the CIA needs to get back to the business of espionage,” as opposed to the CIA’s more recent paramilitary work, one former CIA officer told ABC News. “Fine, you want the Cold War back? This is what you get.”
ABC ‘s Lee Ferran contributed to this report.