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Ideology and Cold War Identity in Mission: Impossible


Corresponding author: Brian Michael Goss; e-mail:


This investigation analyzes Mission Impossible—text and context—during its popular and creative zenith (1967–1969). The series channels fantasies of equality achieved (on race) and a chimerical posture toward traditionalism on gender via a female protagonist who oscillates between femme fatale and femme attrapée. Where nationality is concerned, it constructs the North American “Us” as volunteer citizen/spies within a de-centered liberal order. Nonetheless, the U.S. citizen/spies actively reinforce the status quo (capitalism, male authority, and U.S. interventionism). By contrast, the series problematizes “Their” ostensibly illiberal identity in episodes set abroad by positing other societies as rigidly top-down. In its version of “Red Scares,” Mission: Impossible also enacts strategic vagueness about what finally constitutes “Us” aside from superiority over “Them.”