American Near History


There is a compelling new trend in television that I find incredibly engrossing. The trend started with The Americans, a show about a couple living in suburban America who are also Soviet spies; and the same trend continues with Manhattan, a fictionalized show about the creation of the atomic bomb and the work at Los Alamos. The shows have one thing in common: taking historical events from America’s near past and putting a fictionalized spin on them.

Both shows have engaging story lines, quality casts, and make for incredibly impressive television. They each take events which have happened in America’s not too distant past and are able to make those events both watchable and enjoyable. Sure, each show takes artistic license, and each show doesn’t represent real historical people, but they are representing real historical events. Even if it is in a fictionalized way.

What I find incredibly interesting is how close the events depicted in these shows are to our current time. There are plenty of shows that are based on topics of fictitious history, The Tudors and Reign just to name two examples. There are plenty of movies and shows that show Americans partaking in fictions events (such as Clear and Present Danger and that series of movies). However, I can’t think of another time when these two genres have been so effectively combined.

It’s very interesting to watch an emerging genre, which I will call Near American Fiction. It is a genre comprised on story lines that are based on real events in the near past of America. Not stories like The Patriot, which are based a few hundred years in the American past, but stories based on events that happened only a few decades ago.

Like I said, I am currently loving Manhattan, and I have loved the portions of The Americans that I have caught, and I’m looking forward to the other TV series and movies that develop out of this emerging genre.

What do you think about Near American Fiction? Are there shows and movies that I’m missing? Let me know in the comments!

One thought on “American Near History

  1. The Americans and Manhattan are two brilliant, nuanced shows. I love quality drama and I’m a sucker for history so these two are definitely in my top favorites list. I basically love the 20th century and everything that happened it (at least reading and watching about it) so New American Fiction is probably my favorite genre right now though it sounds like it’s not about recent history but more about modern times. Anyway I think Master of Sex, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men can fit into this category although they’re not about historical events per se. Boardwalk and Masters are about real less known historical figures while Mad Men weaves in a lot of history and culture.

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