In The Americans, if it was such a problem for the Jennings to have kids in the first place as revealed in Season 3/4:

Paige learns the truth and becomes a threat to the whole operation. Henry becomes closer to Stan, the FBI agent next door.

Why bother at all? It would have looked perfectly normal to be an American couple who decided against having kids, and would have kept them from having that liability of danger on their shoulders.

  • Although that might be true, it probably seems less suspicious, because a lot of people would probably think that someone who has kids would never do this. Ultimately The American's clearly depicts why this is such a bad plan (well at least for people who don't approve of using children this way), and not just for the Jennings either, but at the same time, it's not like this idea is complete fiction. The Russians did try and use this tactic to better embed their agents into American society. theguardian.com/world/2016/may/07/… Feb 26, 2019 at 21:24
  • I read that! That must have been hard for those two guys (granted they were MUCH older when they found out their parents were spies, 16 and 20). I remember reading this show was loosely based on the arrests of The Illegals, spies from Russia in like the 2010's. But to keep from causing political issues, they instead opted to base the show back in the 80's. Feb 26, 2019 at 21:31
  • I think you're right. I do remember something about that. I think the kids were born in Toronto and then they moved to Boston? I'm a bit foggy on it though. Feb 26, 2019 at 21:36
  • Sounds right. They were born in Canada so they looked like your average-joe Canadian family moving south into the US to avoid suspicion. Feb 26, 2019 at 21:45
  • 1
    Kids also give you a perfect excuse to disappear for days at a time "Sorry Paige is ill we can't come out tonight" Goes spying Feb 27, 2019 at 8:14

1 Answer 1


The entire point of the Jennings was for them to appear completely ordinary, and in 1960s America, this meant being married & having kids. A childless couple would have attracted attention, so they had kids as part of their cover. (This may not be completely historically accurate, but it is how the show presented it.)

This is touched on a few times during the first season. Having children was ordered by the Center (the KGB) - in a flashback where Phillip & Elizabeth have just arrived in the U.S.A., Phillip talks to Elizabeth about their orders to have kids together. At the end of one episode (I think #8) Phillip says to Elizabeth that in the 60s a woman without a husband would have been suspicious, so this family was her cover. Now that it was the 80s, it wouldn't be suspicious anymore, so she could divorce him if she felt like it.

So they bothered because they were told to and because it was part of their cover.

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