HOMELAND: Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes)
WHAT THE SHOW NAILS: People skills. "Intelligence-gathering is human beings getting information from other human beings," says J.C. Carleson, a former officer with the CIA's Clandestine Service and author of the recently published Work Like a Spy (Penguin). "It's not about gadgets. It's labor-intensive and psychologically demanding."
WHAT'S PURE FICTION: The superhero agent. "Carrie's job is a combination of about four different jobs at the CIA. But Carrie does it all, and that doesn't happen." Another implausibility: the dynamic between Carrie and her supervisor Saul (Mandy Patinkin). "There's no way someone that senior would be as involved in her work."
PARKS AND RECREATION: Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler)
WHAT THE SHOW NAILS: Public service. "She really cares about green spaces, parks, and making sure kids have playgrounds," says Susan Beaurain, division manager for Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation in Carmel, Indiana. "You couldn't do this job if you didn't."
WHAT'S PURE FICTION: Fiscal ignorance. "Leslie's always incredibly naive about who will fund her pet projects. In real life, you need to have an idea of the funding source before you come up with the idea."