Series / Amerika

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Miniseries produced in 1987 describing life after the United States is conquered by the Soviet Union (with the aid of a compliant and effective United Nations). Starred, among others, Kris Kristofferson as a former Senator turned jailed dissident and Robert Urich as the president of a new puppet republic centered around Omaha, called Heartland.

Rumours that the mini-series would be a political firebomb created massive hype, including official protests by the United Nations and the USSR. The series was budgeted for $40 million, more than most feature films. However, the rather dense political drama and deliberate pacing (the series was more than 14 hours long and was shown daily for a week) meant the series lost a multitude of viewers with each episode. While not a complete failure, Amerika was one of the last of the heavily promoted "epic" miniseries of the American broadcast networks.

Cold War pop-culture history website CONELRAD states that it "extended the Cold War by roughly twelve hours".


Tropes:

  • Alternate History: By our standards due to the Great Politics Mess Up. The Soviets, rather than collapsing, annex America to stay afloat.
  • Canada, Eh?: Filmed predominantly (perhaps ironically) in Canada for tax purposes. The courtroom Milford's first hearing is held is in the Canadian style, and the Heartland political convention is held in Hamilton's Copps Coliseum.
  • Day of the Jackboot
  • Downer Ending
  • Dystopia: The series opens with Devin Milford being released from a prison camp and traveling through once-prosperous farmland run down by ten years of collectivisation...and then he travels through Indiana, which is in even worse condition due to Soviet asset-stripping.
  • Divided States of America: The Soviet Union plans to do this to the United States in order to prevent a resurgent America from posing a military or ideological threat. The general plotline follows the creation of "Heartland," a Soviet client state that secedes from America. Even party stalwarts, however, seem to have trouble with the concept.
  • Flyover Country: The Midwest has had all its factory tech looted by the Soviets, and people never return from "voluntary" factory work in Russia. Also, it's now named "Ameritech", after the phone company that once served the area (it's since been absorbed into what's now AT&T).
  • Invaded States of America: Subverted; the United States gives up without a fight, since so few think the cost of resistance (wrecked economy, huge proportion of population dead) would be worth the pay-off (be it costly independence or subjugation anyway). Then again, while the USA's oligarchy has probably been Brought Down to Normal its implied that the economy has been wrecked by collectivisation policies and the Partisan War may end up killing just as many people anyway (regardless of whether it succeeds or not).
  • Lzherusskie: Most of the Russian military. One or two of them have names that were even completely made up.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: The generals in charge of the Soviet occupation have far more sympathy for First World/NATO values than they can officially show, and arguably to a very unrealistic degree for lifetime members of the Soviet military.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The US Congress is wiped out in a "terrorist attack" in a prelude to the breaking-up of the country. Samanov is Driven to Suicide at the sight.
  • One World Order: The UN is now a Soviet puppet organisation, and the Commies are implied to control the entire world, or at least the parts that are useful to them.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Like Red Dawn (1984), the series portrays the suffering of US citizens and evil of Soviet citizens and Socialists+Communists in general so it can use US citizens' sense of national pride and community to get them to sacrifice themselves for the USA in Real Life.
  • Red Scare: Associates anti-US sentiment with Social-Liberal, Socialist, and Communist values.
  • La Résistance: Several characters, but not always working towards the same goals against the Soviets.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Yes.
  • Russia Takes Over the World: It is a miniseries set some years after the Soviets have taken over the United States and installed a puppet government. References to other parts of the world indicate the Soviets are firmly in charge elsewhere as well, with the Warsaw Pact stretching all of Europe and China ceding Manchuria to the USSR.
  • Sinister Surveillance: After Devin is picked up by his father at the station, a member of the Secret Police notes down the occurrence in his notebook.
  • State Sec: The United Nations Special Service Unit carries out periodic "training exercises" — involving tanks, Black Helicopters, Gas Mask Mooks and Stuff Blowing Up — designed to intimidate the local population.
  • Take That: At least, the concept for the miniseries was inspired by this train of thought. A 1983 column by Ben Stein (yes, that Ben Stein) suggested that since The Day After depicted the horrible what-if scenario of a nuclear attack on America, a movie should be made depicting the also horrible what-if scenario of America being conquered by the U.S.S.R., the ultimate threat that had led to the USA's maintenance of a massive fleet (to keep this impossible in the short term) and a series of disposable allies/buffer states in western Europe and East Asia (to keep this impossible in the long term).
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Takes place in 1997.

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