Tag: The Americans

The Americans Finale and Input from Herbert Meyer


(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.

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I thought it would be fun to have a thread for The Americans, which began its final season this week. It is a great show, tightly written with compelling plot development, characterization, and performances. Certainly this will be a place for spoilers, so those who have not seen it – or kept up – but […]

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The Americans: The Best, Most Subversively Conservative Show on Television


The_Americans(Author’s note: Though this review discusses some elements from the show, it is spoiler-free and makes no reference to specific plot points.)

The year is 1981. Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) live in Falls Church, Virginia, just outside the District of Columbia. They are the owners of the DuPont Circle Travel Agency and have two children, Paige and Henry. They’re also KGB agents — but not just any KGB spies — deep cover operatives. Though born in Russia, they’ve lived most of their lives in the United States, were assigned to usurp the identities of American children who died young, and pose as loyal and faithful citizens while carrying out espionage. That is the premise of the FX Network’s series The Americans.

It’s hard to say whether the writers of the show have intended for this to be the message, but what consistently strikes me is how unambiguously good the life in the United States is depicted as in comparison to that in the Soviet Union. The writers put this on display repeatedly through the tensions that develop between the show’s titular couple.