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(Author’s note: I wrote most of this article last year, but events interrupted its publication, as I will detail)
It’s been just over a year since the series finale of FX’s excellent Cold War drama, The Americans. I’ve written about it here before and sung its praises at length, but a brief recounting of the show’s gist is worthwhile: Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys star as Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, deep-cover KGB agents who pose as red-blooded Americans while committing espionage for their nation. As much as I would like to talk about it, the finale of the show brought me to a different place, which I think is far more interesting.
The series works because it functions on several levels, showing us that many forms of relationship, from marriages to organisms as large as nations function around a set of guiding principles – visions, if you will – and the state of the Jennings’ marriage frequently mirrored the problems which bedeviled the Soviet Union. A marriage, like the bonds which form a nation can only withstand so many internal contradictions, lies, and deceits until they begin to break down the connective tissue of the Ur-myth which animated that entity in the first place.