Russians Ruin Everything (in TV)

Okay, I’m watching Salvation a moderately entertaining political thriller with some sci-fi thrown in and then they bring in a Russian plotline and my interest starts cratering. US movies and TV never get Russians right. Instead they’re mostly built on an old stereotype from Cold War era TV and movies.

In this iteration (House of Cards had the same problem) Russians are hyper-organized and super-efficient, cold and calculating and effortlessly multi-lingual and likely to have some kind of lingering affection for American pop culture and slightly sad at the prospect of its destruction.

This is ridiculously unlike real Russians who (in my experience) are more likely to be disorganized and (over) emotional and able to use foreign languages only at great mental and psychological cost.

Of course most Russians don’t fit any neat checklist of national stereotypical characteristics but the distance between the real life Russians I’ve known (including university professors) and the US TV stereotype really bugs me.

And they get stupid things wrong. A character, the Russian ambassador to the US, is named Katya Osinov which is wrong twice. Katya is a nickname used in private life by friends and family and would not be used in official circles (it would be Ekaterina I think) and Osinov is a male form (in Slavic languages last names often have distinct male and female forms and a woman would be Osinova, maybe Osina). The only way a woman in the real world would be named Katya Osinov is if she was born and raised outside of Russia (and therefore unlikely to become an ambassador).

I’m sticking with the show to see if I can ride out the Russian detour without being forced to rage quit.


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