Director/writer/showrunner George Nolfi and stars Hope Davis, Scott Cohen, Gavin Stenhouse and Margarita Levieva made that clear about NBC’s new spy drama during today’s TCA panel. Allegiance centers around a young CIA analyst (Stenhouse) specializing in Russian affairs, who discovers that his parents are former Russian spies that have been re-enlisted to plan a terrorist attack against the United States.

2015 Winter TCA Tour - Day 10A family of spies in the USA? It’s no surprise that Nolfi was asked whether the show is NBC’s answer to the FX series The Americans. “Watch one or two episodes and I think it’s very clear we are going in a very different direction,” Nolfi said. “This is a family drama about people who really do not want to be spies…it’s an extremely different set-up. Where we take them is different as well.”

Cast member Cohen agreed, pointing out the difference between The Americans 1980s setting and the focus on a CIA analyst who came of age post 9/11.

Nolfi raised another mystery on the panel: He mentioned that he based some of the characteristics of the technologically advanced CIA analyst on his own youth. He said he grew up with “a pretty severe learning disability” that left him feeling “outside the social system” and somewhat of an outcast.

When pressed for specifics later in the panel, Nolfi declined to name the disability, but said the problem left him “knowing that you have something to contribute but not being able to contribute.” He added, that although he drew from his personal experience, “The Gavin character is definitely not me, I’m just an inspiration for it.”