TONITE’S CROSS-CROSS-CUTURAL BET: The Spies of Life Homeland/Родина (USA, 2011- )(REN TV, 23:35)
--> Lots of American programming appears on Russian TV, but the psychological-political-espionage serial “Homeland” is a unique case: this is an adaptation of an Israeli serial (“Hatufim”) which was so successful in its U.S. incarnation that it spawned its own Russian version (“Rodina”, 2015) – for which everyone here had great hopes & expectations (esp. w/ P. Lungin directing and Vl. Mashkov in the lead) but which has proven a dud, largely because its adaptors sacrificed the key ingredient of front-page relevance: the action was pushed back 20 yrs, meaning (a) the series lost its ripped-from-the-headlines sense of immediacy; and (b) now everything that went/goes/will go wrong w/ the country in the serial could be tacitly blamed on the bad old (Yelstsin) days (“Pоссийский телесериал избегает критики правительства, может быть, потому, что широковещательной сетью является государственный телеканал. Кроме того, события произошли за годы до избрания Владимира Путина президентом России“ -- RussWiki).
The U.S. “Homeland” series continues to simulate front-burner urgency, its 5th season opening a few weeks ago with major action and intrigue afoot in…guess where. If you said “Ukraine,” I hope your 2 months on the space station made for a nice vacation. Yes, Peter Quinn has been running around doing “good guy dirty work” in Syria, and the now-contentious Carrie and Saul are at odds over the terrori- …but I should stop before a spoiler pops out.
All told, letting REN TV air season 1 of the U.S. serial doesn’t represent a great risk for the current administration in Moscow; Russia figures only obliquely or indirectly in the narrative of events, while various American gov’t agencies come in for considerable criticism. That said, the longer “Homeland” is allowed to run here, the more problematic it becomes from VVP & Co.’s perspective: the show is so effectively mounted and acted that not only will viewers get involved in and start sympathizing with/rooting for key American characters – most of whom are CIA agents and some of whom are involved in repeated violations of int’l law (that's realpolitik for ya) – but word is sure to spread across the RF that “Homeland” is in fact the favorite show of the Great Satan himself: as this wk’s Tele-Nedelya puts it, “American viewers are hoping that Barack Obama will appear in the series as himself: it is his favorite show, the U.S. president has said, and he considers it the most honest one he has seen on television” ("самый честный из всех, что он видел на телевидении").
Yeah, that’s the president who watched the bin Laden compound go righteously kaboom on a TV monitor – so he probably knows honest programming when he sees it. Think about that, Muscovites, as you watch what might or might not be "ISIS terrorists" getting bombed, again, on the Channel 1 news tonite.
A Princeton PhD, was a U.S. diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Central/Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. After leaving the State Department in order to express opposition to the planned invasion of Iraq, he taught courses at Georgetown University pertaining to the tension between propaganda and public diplomacy. For many years he shared ideas on the theme "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" with Eurasian/European delegates participating in the "Open World" program.
Brown’s articles have appeared in numerous publications. A recent piece is “Janus-Faced Public Diplomacy: Creel and Lippmann During the Great War” (published in Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future; now online).
He is the author (with S. Grant) of The Russian Empire and the USSR: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States (also online). In the past century, he served as an editor/translator of a joint U.S.-Soviet publication, The Establishment of Russian-American Relations, 1765-1815.