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FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

The best spy shows and movies to watch if you miss “The Americans”

Adam Epstein
By Adam Epstein

Entertainment reporter

FX’s Cold War spy drama, The Americans—one of the best TV dramas of the decade—is no more. It aired its final episode on May 30. The days and weeks after a show of such high caliber ends are a time for mourning, reflection, and, of course, searching for another show or movie that reminds us of it.

Luckily, television and cinema are both awash with excellent spy content right now. One might even argue that we’re in a golden age of fictional spycraft, with several ongoing TV dramas about spies (two of them new this year) and several movie blockbusters on the way.

Everyone loves a good spy story, but there are just so many of them. To help you identify what’s really worth watching, Quartz chose 15 streamable spy shows and movies that will fill the void that The Americans left:

TV shows

BBC America
“Killing Eve.”
  • The Avengers (1960s): No, not those Avengers. Created in 1961, this assured, stylish, often zany British TV series about secret agents has informed every spy show that came after it. The episodes with Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) are the best. (Amazon | iTunes | Vudu)
  • Alias (2000s): This spy series from The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams starred Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, a double and sometimes triple agent working for the CIA who infiltrated an international crime syndicate. (Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | Vudu | YouTube)
  • Homeland (ongoing): Based on an Israeli series, this Showtime drama stars Claire Danes as a bipolar CIA agent trying to figure out if a US Marine who was held captive by Al-Qaeda has turned against the US. Subsequent seasons drastically expand the scope of the first season’s plot. (Showtime | Hulu | Amazon | iTunes | Google Play)
  • Counterpart (ongoing): Half sci-fi, half spy dramaCounterpart follows a bureaucrat (J.K. Simmons) for a secret United Nations agency in Berlin who is pulled into a conspiracy when he meets his doppelgänger from an alternate reality. (Starz | Amazon)
  • Killing Eve (ongoing): One of the best new shows on TV, Killing Eve boasts two powerhouse performances, by Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer as, respectively, a British counterintelligence officer and a psychopath assassin working for a mysterious international organization, who become obsessed with each other. (BBC America | Amazon)

Modern classic movies

Focus Features
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”
  • Munich (2005): Steven Spielberg’s tragically underrated true story of Operation Wrath of God, the covert mission carried out by Mossad agents to track down and kill those responsible for the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Olympics in West Germany. (Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | YouTube)
  • Casino Royale (2006): The first, and best, of Daniel Craig’s James Bond films, this propulsive adaptation of Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel of the same name has the British actor reinventing the typically suave secret agent as a brash and brutal provocateur. (Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | YouTube)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011): Based on the John le Carré novel of the same name, this gripping slow burn of a Cold War flick follows MI6 intelligence officer George Smiley (Gary Oldman) trying to suss out a Soviet mole within the British secret service in the early 1970s. (Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | Netflix | ShowtimeYouTube)
  • Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Jessica Chastain stars as a CIA analyst consumed by the relentless, decade-long manhunt for Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, culminating in the US military raid on the terrorist’s compound in Pakistan. Directed by Detroit filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow. (Amazon | FXM | iTunes | Google Play | YouTube)
  • Bridge of Spies (2015): Steven Spielberg (again) directs Tom Hanks in this riveting, old-school telling of the true story of an insurance lawyer in 1960 who negotiated for the release of a US Air Force pilot held by the Soviet Union in exchange for a KGB spy arrested in the US. (Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | YouTube)

All-time great spy movies

United Artists
“Goldfinger.”
  • Notorious (1946): One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most masterful films, Notorious is the story of the American daughter of a Nazi spy (Ingrid Bergman), enlisted by a US agent (Cary Grant) to infiltrate a ring of former Nazis living in Brazil shortly after World War II. (YouTube — free via public domain)
  • The Manchurian Candidate (1962): Preserved in the US Library of Congress as a culturally significant film, this Cold War era thriller is about a US Korean War veteran brainwashed by his Communist captors into being a sleeper agent. Also spawned a pretty good remake starring Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep. (Amazon | iTunes)
  • Goldfinger (1964): Perhaps the most famous James Bond film ever made, Goldfinger is a delightfully weird and thrilling spy tale about 007’s pursuit of a wealthy, deranged gold smuggler. (Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | Vudu | YouTube)
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965): The ultimate spy story (also based on a John le Carré novel), this twisty film stars Richard Burton as a British intelligence agent undercover in East Germany. A TV miniseries is currently in the works. (Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | Vudu | YouTube)
  • Three Days of the Condor (1975): Sydney Pollack’s classic thriller stars Robert Redford as a CIA researcher who returns to the office from a lunch break to find all of his colleagues murdered. A TV series based on the story debuted on the Audience network June 6. (Amazon | iTunes | Google Play | Vudu | YouTube)
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