Spies in suburbia: not unusual

The Russian spy ring recently caught in America was primarily based in suburbia. One New York Times writer argues that this is not that unusual:

We’ve seen this movie before, a variation on “Fun With Dick and Jane” or “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” among others.

It’s fun, but as sociology, the story line set against the presumed seamless banality of suburban life gets ever flimsier. We seem to have had a computer chip implanted in our brain about the time of “Little Boxes,” the dopey and incredibly sanctimonious 1962 song about suburban conformity (“Little boxes made of ticky tacky … Little boxes all the same”) that helped define the suburbs. And it seems to persist even as its descriptive value trends toward zero. So at a time when more than half of Americans live in suburbs, what exactly does the suburban part of this tale tell us? Alas, not much.

The article contains more information about the growing diversity in suburbia including a smaller number of families living the “Ozzie and Harriet sort of life.” (Perhaps this phrase needs to be updated for the 21st century since “Ozzie and Harriet” is a little dated. How about the “Homer and Marge Simpson suburban life”?) If a majority of Americans live in suburbia, it is not unusual that a number of nefarious characters come out of suburbia.

What is not addressed in this article is a stereotype that suburbia leads people to such things as spying, violence, and breaking up their families to escape the dull and empty suburban lifestyle. In this case, the Russians came to suburbia to blend in and live a normal life.

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