There is no shortage of Spy TV shows as networks roll out continuous series that are loosely based around 3 letter agencies. While TV shows like to play the sexy angle of pencil skirts, inter-office romances, and unlimited travel funds, the real clandestine world is less about sex appeal and more about getting home before I-295 gets to a standstill.

Top 5 drive-me-crazy inaccuracies of Spy TV Shows

Giving credit where credit is due, we are moving away from the glamorized Hollywood idea of the Intelligence Community such as ABC’s Alias (2001-2006), and into a more down to earth viewpoint such as Netflix’s The Diplomat (2023-current). I asked my coworkers their thoughts on these types of tv shows and comparing to our daily life and got a mixed review of feedback. And while I will say we enjoy talking about them together we all highlight the same inaccuracies that drive us all a little crazy.

1. Badging

Walking around classified spaces, secured buildings, White House and other Executive buildings, without wearing a badge.

2. OPSEC in computers

Characters just wiggling the mouse and you’re automatically in the computer. No CAC readers? No passwords? Apparently…no problem.

3. Uniforms based on location

If you’re in the military and you have a meeting on The Hill, White House, Executive Building, etc, you’re in service dress. You’re not meeting the Chief of Staff in BDUs. Also, covers. Dear Hollywood, let’s take covers off when you’re on a flight line. Thanks!

4. Accurate spacing of Washington DC

You mean, Jack Ryan rowed on the Potomac over by Watergate building and then hopped on his bicycle and was in Langley, VA within minutes? Get out of town. Literally.

5. Parking

People seem to be able to drive to these sites and find parking right away. Unless you are rolling in at 430-530am, good luck finding parking. I say we adopt a rule if you can’t find parking you can go home. “Sorry sir/ma’am, I tried.”

Enjoying TV Depends on Your Profession

Growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was TNT’s, ER. My dad, who is a Pediatric Cardiologist, would never sit down and watch any medical shows with me. He said the inaccuracies drove him nuts, and he didn’t want to spend his free time watching a life he mirrors. Well, 20 years later, I am the salty parent who refuses to watch these types of shows with their kids without pointing out the inaccuracies.

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NJ has over 10 years inside the DoD working for various organizations and cleared defense contractors. With an ear to the ground on all things OPSEC, cyber, machine learning & mental health, she is an untapped keg of open source information.