Hey TV.com, Should I Watch The Americans?

Spies, double lives, and jazz have all enjoyed a huge uptick in interest as of late thanks to Showtime's award-winning Homeland. FX is hoping the buzz from at least two of those things (sorry be-boppers) carries over to its new show espionage thriller The Americans, debuting this week. But is this '80s-set spy show just Homeland with bad hair and shoulder pads? I've seen the first two episodes of the drama, so let me walk you through the painful internal conflict of "Should I check this out or not?!?" with this latest edition of the Internet's most popular advice column, "Hey TV.com, do you think that maybe I should watch this show?"


The Americans, you say? So it's about the greatest country and the greatest people, right?

Sort of! I mean there are Americans in it, but the actual center of the show follows America's greatest enemy ever after The Iron Shiek: those vodka-swillin', bear-wrasslin', Rocky-punchin' Russians of the 1980s! Set during the Decade of Flock of Seagulls, The Americans focuses on two KGB agents (played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) who pose as an American couple and embed themselves in suburban US of A to go way deep undercover. Like, so undercover that they have kids and play house while also executing orders given to them by the Big Red Machine. And it if it isn't just their luck, an FBI man in the counter-intelligence department moves into the two-bedroom across the street!


When does The Americans start?

It gets the Wednesday slot abandoned by American Horror Story and will debut on January 30 at 10pm on FX.


Who created the show?

This is Joe Weisberg's first show to call his own. Weisberg knows a thing or two about shady government agencies because he used to work as a CIA officer. But then he got into TV and wrote some episodes of Damages and Falling Skies. Also on the staff: Graham Yost (Justified), Justin Falvey (Falling Skies), and Darryl Frank (Falling Skies) executive produce. And don't worry, Falvey and Frank have done a lot more than just Falling Skies.


What audience is The Americans looking for?

Surprise! It's probably the same people who watch Homeland. You know, snobby people who think they're all smart and cool. Me, basically. And The Americans has a good chance to get just as much chatter. This is cable-TV-quality cable TV, as we say.


What's good about The Americans?

Sometimes shows come out with a good idea, but that's it; they have that ONE good idea. The Americans is like 10 different shows in one, with each aspect just as compelling as the next. It's a love story with a loop, a family drama with a wrinkle, and a spy action show with a twist, just to name a few. Having never watched Brothers and Sisters, I'd never seen Rhys's work. But he's incredible as hubby KGB agent Phillip, and Russell is more than satisfactory as tough wife Elizabeth. Same goes for Noah Emmerich as the FBI neighbor. And though she doesn't appear in the first few episodes, Margo Martindale rounds out the top-notch acting, having joined the cast as a KGB director, marking her return to FX after an Emmy-winning performance on Justified. Plus the show's music kicks ass (including the best use of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" ever), choosing legitimately good '80s music over "I'll Melt With You" (sorry, that's a bad bad song). But really, it's the awesome spy jinx that anchor the show.



What doesn't work?

Sustainability is going to be an issue here, and the second episode is vastly inferior to the incredible pilot. But a lot of people thought Homeland couldn't make it past two seasons, and that show figured out how to keep going with a lot less room to maneuver. Also, if you're a true red-white-and-blue-blooded American, this show kind of asks you to root for the bad guys.


So would you recommend watching The Americans?

Absopositively. It's early in 2013, but I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be the best pilot we see all year. I can't wait to see more.


Do you have a trailer so I can see for myself?

BAM!


What's a good drink to pair with my viewing of The Americans?

RC Cola or Tab with whiskey, or one of those fruity deals, like a Sex on the Beach or Kamikaze, that were popular in the '80s. Oh wait is it too late to change my answer? Vodka! Duh!



The Americans premieres Wednesday, January 30 at 10pm on FX.

Comments (59)
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Jan 31, 2013
Spies!! Keri Russell! Conspiracies! I'm in.
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Jan 30, 2013
Ah yes, this brings me back to Alias. Definitely watching.
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Jan 30, 2013
Does anyone know how many people in the US go to the FBI or apply to the CIA because of the influences they see on TV? Because some shows seem closer to propaganda than entertainment. Just wondering. (Seriously, I'm not trying to be offensive, I'm curious. Are there recruitment numbers? Statistics?)
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Jan 30, 2013
These are recruitment tactics? It would deter me from working at ANY government agency.
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Jan 30, 2013
this sounds horrible....
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Jan 29, 2013
A drama about Soviets just seems so irrelevant and past its time. Usually when successful period dramas are done, they seem timely and are part of a fad. Not saying it won't be a good show but the Cold War is such old news! Hard to find this interesting.
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Jan 30, 2013
All the hype has to start somewhere. Before Mad Man, how many shows were there about the 60s? And how many after? (at least I think Mad Man started it all; gotta admit I never watched any of those period pieces)
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Jan 30, 2013
Yeah, you're so right! That's why that 'Mad Men' show will NEVER work! I mean, who wants to watch a show set in the post-war years? Hello! It's 2013! Ammiright?!

And as for 'The Americans,' it's not like the 1980s is enjoying an enormous nostalgic boom right now or anything. Man, these show creators don't know squat. Hey... why don't they just let YOU run programming?!
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Jan 30, 2013
whoops, think I just made the same point, should've read your post first ;)
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Jan 29, 2013
may i download tv for free/ tv veetle too slow(for me) to run on my device.
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Feb 10, 2013
It's the 80s, dude. You'll have to borrow someone's VHS tape for a couple weeks. Remember, if the tape is too small it's Betamax and you can't use it. If it's smaller than that, it's a cassette and you'll have to settle for sound and no video. Hey! fuggedaboudit! It's how I first "watched" blazing saddles...
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Jan 29, 2013
Only for Margo Martindale.
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Jan 29, 2013
somehow it's a pity that they haven't set the show in the 50s or in the 70s, more interesting periods for dormant spies than the declining (for the USSR) 80s... stakes would have been much higher.
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Jan 29, 2013
Better not be as ridiculous as Homeland in 2 season. Better not be full of "russian silly last names" cliches. Better not be full of other stereotypes of russians (vodka drinkers, omnipotent KGB), better not be full of other cliches (america is a greatest country in the world so even two KGB russians with no accent english fall in love with its way of life and betray USSR)))
Premise with FBI agent living next door looks like premise of german movie "Life of Others" about Stasi spying in East Berlin. Still I have doubts about this show. FX is ambitious but sometimes runs ahead of itself.
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Jan 29, 2013
will be watching & making a list of sponsors to AVOID
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Jan 29, 2013
Sure have high hopes for this one.
Let's see if it won't disappoint. :)
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Jan 29, 2013
I'll give it a try
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Jan 29, 2013
Best new show of the year!
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Jan 29, 2013
I will definitely watch this, and having to root for the bad guys for once might be good for a lot of people :) Let's hope it doesn't kill the show.
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Jan 29, 2013
Looks pretty good, I'll be watching it with cautious optimism. However, as people are saying below, I do fear that it may move at a slow pace, and it, in a way, looks similar to "Mad Men" by the style of show it looks to be, which is a good show, but can be slow at times. Overall the premise sounds good, and I'll definetely be investing my time in it.
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Jan 29, 2013
FX slaughtered The Riches, a show with a similar suburban-family-with-a-double-life premise, with a borderline sadistic cliffhanger of an ending. I don't know if I can trust them enough to try this one out, too...
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Jan 29, 2013
To make it last, they could have the spies turn "good" and help the FBU find other spies
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Jan 29, 2013
I really wouldn't like that. It would turn an awesome premise into a "White Collar" but with spies (I love White Collar, but...)
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Jan 29, 2013
Or turn the FBI agents bad. Who cares if America "wins the Cold War", for a television show, we can have the fantasy that the bad-asses win, or at least don't fail all the time.
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Jan 30, 2013
I think you should just look at it from a Russian point-of-view and have the American FBI agents turn "good" for a change ;-)
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Feb 01, 2013
Well of course. I mean, who's rooting for the FBI?
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Jan 29, 2013
that would be awesome
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Jan 29, 2013
going to pass
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Jan 29, 2013
Oh, I'll certainly be giving this a shot. Without having watched an episode, I do kind of fear that the show may move too slow for my tastes. With that said, FX has yet to fail me, especially with dramas... except for cancelling Terriers. YES!, I will bring that up EVERY time I talk about FX!
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Jan 29, 2013
bring it up!
Terriers was awesome:)
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Jan 29, 2013
Alias did an episode with this as the premise basically and I always wanted to see something like this as a series. Keri Russel ruled in MI3 and Waitress, and this looks like it's maybe going to be somewhat of a mix of those 2 roles. I'll watch it for sure.
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Jan 29, 2013
One of my favourite Alias eps as well! I can't wait.
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Jan 29, 2013
This show looks like a cheap ripoff of Homeland, but with more hasbeen actors and a thinner plot. I couldn't stand the chick from Felicity for the few seconds I'd click through and see the show, and I doubt she's gotten any better at acting since, since she's basically been out of the entertainment scene since. The show is going to rely on people waiting to watch better FX shows before or after the timeslot for viewers at first, and probably for the short lifespan it will have.

FX usually makes great shows, but this looks like a steaming pile of crap. The promos are uninspired, the acting looks subpar, and the story has been done enough in film and other shows that this is nothing special. FX needed a filler for Louie, and when that comes back in 2014, this will get the boot to a worse timeslot.

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Jan 29, 2013
Have you seen her IMDB? She's not been out of show business. I don't care if you like her or not but come on, just because you haven't paid attention to her doesn't mean she's a has-been. What have you ever done? Actually wait--I never saw you do it therefore it doesn't matter
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Jan 29, 2013
2nd pic looks like a bunch of little anachronisms: kid's jersey style has mesh holes, syrup bottle is plastic and a flip-top, fridge is modern by the look of the handles and the sharp lines of the doors. Or maybe not, this is as much of the show as I'll want to see, the premise is a bit much and I am not a huge fan of "serious" Keri Russell, nor period dramas from the '70s or '80s in general.
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Jan 29, 2013
Sounds great and I look forward to it. The 80s weren't that long ago---man, I feel old:(
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Jan 28, 2013
I've already set up a season pass! I love Russian spy stuff, and it's especially cool because there's real life precedent for it- remember when they found a bunch of Russian spies on the East Coast a couple years ago? They all had kids and jobs and had been posing as Americans for decades. Cool. It just seems so adorably non-threatening. What kind of intel are they getting? That the neighbors don't recycle? Didn't they hear the Cold War is over?
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Jan 28, 2013
The Americans starts here in New Zealand Monday night ....looks REALLY good :)
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Jan 28, 2013
Sounds really great.
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Jan 28, 2013
Oh and doesn't it seem weird that Yost is on the writing staff? I mean apart from the FX connection I don't think I've ever heard of a showrunner of a currently um running show to also contribute episodes to another show unless they were doing a multi-showrunning juggling deal. Any thoughts?
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Jan 29, 2013
You've obviously never heard of Seth McFarlane or Matt Groening.
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Jan 28, 2013
Well, I haven't seen anything that suggests Yost will be a writer on The Americans... he could very well JUST be an executive producer (which is a position that better allows someone to work on different shows -- although it's still very rare). If he does write though, I agree with you that I can't think of any showrunners for one show writing for another.
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Jan 28, 2013
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Jan 28, 2013
That worries me. I want Yost's mind to be focused on Justified and no other show.
Unless he's some kind of genius and he can work on both without Justified's quality dropping.
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Jan 29, 2013
Wait, J. J. Abrams does exactly that and every single thing he's ever put on TV has been solid gold. (That was 100% sarcastic. I now look for any TV project to which his name is attached as a reasonably good indicator of something that'll be disappointing at the very least. Stick with movies. Leave TV to the people that are still willing to try to do good things with it.)

Anyway, I find myself atypically unenthused about this new show, but will certainly give it a try. When it comes to original fare, FX's offerings tend to be leaps and bounds better than almost any/every other network's.
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Jan 28, 2013
I've been waiting for this since I first heard about it. So far, it looks like it won't disappoint!
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Jan 28, 2013
It has Tusk! I'm sold.
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Jan 28, 2013
You had me at "Tusk" v. "Melt With You". That is not even a contest.
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Jan 28, 2013
I am prepared to like this much more than I actually liked Homeland (I tried watching a marathon of it and hated everyone, so, I didn't stick with it). I am fine with rooting for the 'bad' guys (speaking of Showtime, I did watch and love Sleeper Cell and you found yourself as conflicted as Michael Ealy's character was about everything) plus, I am kind of aware of what sort of happened to a lot of these spies (basically a lot of them became so Americanized or at least their kids did that they defected for the sake of their children).
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Jan 28, 2013
The trailer looks awesome. I'm going to tune it for both Keri Russell (I loved her in "Felicity") and Matthew Rhys. I hope "The Americans" will be a good mix of 80's period piece and cold war spy show. Fingers crossed!
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Jan 28, 2013
Not sure how rooting for the bad guys is gonna work.
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Jan 29, 2013
It's fiction, so. Plus bad guys are always so much more fun than good guys! And it'll probably feature a lot of them struggling with whether or not to keep up the mission after they start liking people and life in the US. I would assume.
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Jan 29, 2013
Did you really just say "it's fiction"? Is there some corner of the Internet in which that sort of condescension is met with a nice response because I'm really struggling here.
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Jan 28, 2013
I'm rooting for this show to be great, but that might kill it. Then again finding out that Brody has an annoying daughter and is working with the terrorists didn't kill Homeland, so maybe this'll work too.
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Jan 28, 2013
I think there are only a few phenomenal actors out there who can make you care what happens even when you want them to lose. Brody gets the perk of starting out a hero and being slightly ambiguous/savable--and Damian Lewis is a master class in walking the line between charismatic and creepy. These guys aren't starting out as heroes, they are starting out as bad guys. I have a whole soapbox right now about the trend in making bad guys heroes--critics love it but aside from a few notable exceptions the viewing watching public does not.
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Jan 28, 2013
I'll work great outside the states :p . But seriously, being a foreigner the only show/movie that makes me root for the "good guys" is Homeland, on the rest of them it's kind of fun seeing americans lose (and only because is fiction, don't get me wrong)
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Jan 29, 2013
Yep me too. American shows are often unbearable in their we-are-the-best-and-the-greatest representation.
And I like Captain America.
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Jan 29, 2013
It's a "nobody makes fun of my brother but me" kinda thing. All countries have nationalistic pride and their culture represents that. Remember how upset Brits got after the Olympics opening ceremony and people were going "WTF was that?" and they were like "it's who we are and we're proud!" Push comes to shove, no matter how much you disagree with politics or economics or social issues, you put Americans in the Cold War up against Russian spies and we're gonna wanna root for the US. The worst thing Last Resort did was fire nuclear warheads across the US. I don't care what was done to you, no nukes over my hometown.
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Jan 29, 2013
Hum... I guess I can understand that... I think for us, non Americans, the irritating thing is less about American people being protective and attached to their country (which I can totally understand, and most people would feel that way about theirs, I know I would) than this "we are the best" and "we have the right to put our nose in everyone's business in the world" sensation we do get from them. (I'm not saying all Americans are like that, just that it's a pretty persistent message in Americans' medias - but yeah... the "no nukes over my hometown but nuking other countries we have no business in is fine" is hard to swallow for a lot of people over the world ;))
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Jan 28, 2013
Since it's airing in the US, I doubt foreigners who don't like the US aren't really their target market. :)
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