If you love watching The Americans, then it’s very likely that you won’t like The Assets. One reason is that it feels like an imitation, a copy of the critically praised show. And once you have that feeling, it never goes away. It stays in your gut with every second that passes by while watching it. It’s an imitation, and it’s bland.
I think the ABC executive who green lighted this program was hoping to ride The Americans’ success with numerous TV critics. Not to mention the internet buzz that it has generated from all the Top 2013 TV shows year-ender lists. Aside from the FX show, there is an increase in interest in the Cold War thanks to tensions between the United States and Russia. Could these factors be the real reason why ABC decided to create the The Assets?
But the ABC show is not a hit and actually received the lowest rated drama premiere ever on one of the 4 big networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox). The ratings were so low that the mini-series can even face cancellation. It’s unheard of because a mini-series, receiving good ratings or not, will air until the end but The Assets can be exception to the rule.
The show is not entirely an imitation. It is actually based on the book Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed by retired CIA officers Jeanne Vertefeuille and Sandra Grimes.
Another difference of The Assets and The Americans is that the latter employs the antiheroism, the former still utilizes the same old perception of Soviets being the bad guys and Americans good.
On the other hand, the shows have thematic similarities. The theme song is also awfully similar. I, personally, wouldn’t even mind if the show was solid, and can take off on its own. Although the premise was interesting, the way it was put together makes me feel that it was made with outdated technology. To me, it feels old, even the style feels ancient.
Another thing that I noticed is the villain of the show, Ames (played by Paul Rhys). It’s either he’s internalizing Hitler of Walter White because he looks like the love child of the two. Not to sound like a hipster but having an obvious villain vibe was so 1990’s.
The protagonist, Grimes (played by British actress Jodie Whitaker) is another cliche character. She is a hard worker who can’t really organize her life as normal people do. She is split between life and work, and releases steam by snapping at her daughter at the end of a tiring day.
I really don’t know anything about the book, but chances are, it’s really good for it to be turned into a mini-series. I also applaud ABC for giving the show a chance. It’s a gamble because not too many networks are creating unique shows. But all of these praises will just go down the drain if the final product is not good. Not to mention, too much of an imitation.