Monday, April 4, 2005

Alias and the CIA

Between fact and fiction
Are we responsible for discerning fact from fiction when we watch television? I believe the answer is yes. I will continue to watch Alias and be intrigued and even entertained by the flashy covert operations and fantastical story lines. But I will continue to feel guilty about it, because I know that it is a farce and a lie, an inexcusable misrepresentation of a deplorable organization.

So concludes a nice piece about one of the handful of TV shows that I think are worth watching, Alias. I wholeheartedly agree with the column. As an Alias fan, I do sometimes get that feeling of irony whenever a character talks about how they are the "good guys." I also found it a little ironic in the show's early days that the fake-CIA covert organization SD-6 was actually more like the real CIA in terms of ethics than the CIA in the show.

But I don't watch the show for a lesson in patriotism, I watch it because it is tremendously fun, smartly written, and has a great cast. Besides, they only mention the CIA's alleged goodness once a season or so. And it would be a little silly to expect super-spies to think the organization they work for sucks, right? It's fiction.



  1. "Alias" is one of those popular shows that I somehow manage to never have watched a single episode of (like "Law & Order" and "West Wing").

    It does look good, but I'd be pretty skeptical of it's treatment of what the CIA does and is. There seems to be an awful lot of insidiously patriotic fare out there.

  2. I guess the good thing about Alias is that they sort of have their own special area of expertise. The regular CIA is only marginally present in the show because the characters are part of an independent unit. So it's pretty easy to pretend that they really are "good guys" even if the main body of the CIA is also doing all of the other things it does . . . off-camera, of course.