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Consumers are indulged by media through watching television based on themes that capture their attention. Recently, I watched an episode Teamwork from the TV show Allegiance on NBC. Allegiance is about Alex O’ Conner, who is a young man that does not know that his family are Russian spies. He works for the CIA as an analyst, which results in conflict of interests. His parents work for a spy organization, who wants the files, which can potentially destroy American core values. Alex is working with the CIA to foil Rezident’s plans in obtaining the files. In the episode Teamwork, Alex confronts his parents by accusing them that they are Russian spies. Throughout this whole episode, there are stereotypical examples that portray how media views men, women, people of color, and American nationalism. This episode portrays Russian stereotypes of women, men, politics and economy. Allegiance highlights prejudices, through representation based on character behavior in different scenarios. The music, shots, and characters represents the theme of allegiance and nationalism.
The scene opens with Alex demanding to know the truth from his parents about Mikeal, because his files are a threat. Alex asked accusatory questions about Mikeal and his files. As a result, Katya becomes hysterical, and throws Alex off, by confessing that she had an affair, which was just another lie. This scene, portrayed the stereotype that Russian women are gold diggers, because they only want to live comfortably and be dependent on a male figure. When Katya mentioned she attended, border school in America, it also brought up a political notion of Russia sending children to America for better opportunities. During this whole scene, the music was quick, light and dramatic. This represented Alex’s mood on how he felt when Katya constantly disappeared when he was a child. Alex represents the American ideals which are justice and liberty, however Katya and Mark represent the Russian socialist mentality.
There are many instances when we watch a series when we do not know the true reason why the director choose to shoot a scene a certain way. In this master shot, Alex is shown being angry. There are more superimposed shots when information is revealed about his mother’s disappearances. The argument gets more heated, there are close ups of Alex, Katya and Mark. The camera stays focused on Katya’s reaction from her affair confessions. When Alex’s youngest sister Sarah, walks into the kitchen, she is ignorant about the situation. Sarah symbolizes the innocence in not knowing that her family are spies.
Natalie, is Alex’s older sister whose boyfriend is a Russian spy, who works for the enemy in NYC. Natalie plays a vital role by bugging Alex’s cellphone and computer as a way to collect information from the CIA. The scene opens with Natalie and Viktor in bed, being woken up by a phone call from Rezident. Viktor is told that Alex is threatening his parents if they do not tell him the truth. There is parallel editing between the scenes when Alex confronts his parents, to Natalie and Viktor rushing into traffic, and there is a zoom in shot of Roman (main boss of Rezident), giving the order to assassinate the family to emphasize the point that he is in charge. After Viktor and Natalie stop the assault, there is a POV shot of Alex leaving the apartment in shock. The music was heavy, during the montage shoots and parallel editing emphasized. This shows how close Alex learned the truth, until his mother lied to him again.
When the scene closes, everyone is safe but appalled with Katya’s romantic affair confession. The scene jump cuts, to Moscow a year before Operation: Black Dagger was put into play. The scene shows a conference that include white, European men who are wearing either professional suits or military uniforms. The audience is portrayed into knowing that these men have decision making power. This represents the Russian society, as sexist towards women because they are behind in providing them equality. The entire scene shows a man speaking to a large group about weakness in American economy. They are questioning United States power, because their only punishment is sanctions. Since American global influence is decreasing, Moscow feels they are at an advantage. However, one of the military officers disagrees with Black Dagger and calls it madness. But the speaker counters that remark with “Madness is American sanctions, madness is the last of Soviet sovereignty”. This scene represents politics by explaining the importance of those missing files. The missing files contain a plan that could potentially destroy American core values.
This episode presents different beliefs and loyalties that result in conflict of interests. Nationalism influences decision making in different characters. In this series, women are used as pawns to satisfy a male’s needs. One of the many stereotypes portrayed about women in the workplace is a scene with Sam and Michelle played by Kenneth Choi and Floriana Lima. Sam questions Michelle’s place in the workplace to what she replies “Oh Sam, you have such a constrained view of me.” This shows that that even though she is a successful Hispanic women working in a male-dominated field of law enforcement, her supervisor will never see her as equal. Also, when Michelle is told to get a search warrant from the New York Attorney General’s office, Sam tells Alex to accompany her. Sam believes she will not get the warrant on her own. This represents what women face today in the workplace. There is a scene with Natalie and Viktor; that portrays Natalie through a stereotype that women in a relationship needs a man’s approval to feel complete and happy. This is a stereotypical image that presents women as being insecure about themselves. A women’s opinion is also disregarded because they are viewed as inferior. Katya’s advice got completely brushed off by Mark, who choose to go his way to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. When Katya had a gun in her hands, Mark looked at her in fear. This shows that he felt uncomfortable with a women who had power.
The Allegiance characters embody certain traits that are correct in some cases. Alex O’Conner, the main protagonist represents being a hero, he is a smart CIA analyst with a promising future. His supervisor Sam, is trying to groom him for a better position but, also feels threatened by his talent. Special Agent Brock is the overseer of the organization, and does not like his authority questioned. Roman also does not like his authority to be questioned. They all feel that when they are questioned, they would be viewed as less than a man. For example, Roman needed to regain his control by killing Viktor’s friend, as a way to show dominance. Mark plays the husband role, so his decisions cannot be questioned by either Katya or Natalie. A scene that shows this power struggle is when Mark confronts Katya about the affair. When Katya says that she had to make a decision for the family, Mark puts her in an inferior that she is not one to make them. This show is great in context, however when it comes to stereotypes Allegiance is a show to see.
Allegiance exhibits an interesting storyline that shows the intertwining between politics and family matters. However, the characters role in the show present stereotypes that can put people in a box. This show unintentionally creates views to have a limited mindset of the real world.
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