How TV shows are ordering sides of authenticity with real fast-food chains

TV has a taste for fast food.

Famous franchises are playing key supporting roles this year: McDonald’s had a prominent cameo in this week’s finale of FX’s The Americans, and Arby’s is frequently mentioned and makes appearances on the cable network’s Baskets.

They join other real-world fast-food chains that earned exposure in recent years, including Burger Chef on AMC’s Mad Men and Subway on NBC’s Chuck. Among them, only Subway’s appearance was part of a sponsorship deal, the networks say.

The McDonald’s iconic golden arches, symbol of American commercialism and efficiency, served as a poetic final food stop for The Americans’ Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, Soviet spies impersonating U.S. citizens, as they fled the country after their tourist-agent covers were blown.

Creator and executive producer Joe Weisberg says he loved “Philip’s final goodbye to this greatest icon of American capitalism, as he had become enamored of capitalism and America.”


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