The plot of The Americans is that two KGB spies, Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, pose as a couple in Cold War-era DC. But, at its heart, the show really isn't about spies, or US-USSR relations, or really even the government. At its heart, The Americans is about relationships. Romantic relationships, friend relationships, and especially familial relationships are the main focus of this show. Yes there is espionage, yes there are political messages about US-Russia relations, and yes there are criticisms about the government. But the recurring message throughout is one of family and friends, so if you begin watching it expecting it to be a procedural, stop.
The quality of each episode remains consistently high. With superb acting and tight writing, each plotline never seems irrelevant and each character is well developed. The family of Elizabeth, Phillip, Paige, and Henry are the main focus of the series, and from their family struggles, our own can be mirrored. The B-plot of each episode often is led by Stan Beeman, the Jennings' neighbor and FBI agent. His plotlines often deal with his own family, mirroring those of the Jennings'. Each character enhances the plot and thematically develops the overarching stories and themes.
TL; DR: The Americans has both an intriguing premise and a masterful execution. Watch it.
Wow- this is such a well-crafted show. All the elements come together so well, the strong level of acting throughout the ensemble, the writing and direction- that never fail to create suspense, and- as one who came of age in the late, great 80's- the costumes, music, and set design are spot on! Even though I already know the show's been renewed for 2 more seasons, I still felt anxious over whether they'd be discovered or not, whether they'd make the break for Moscow or not. I was working in the USG in DC back in those days, and it's fun to see familiar spots now and then. And also, that Reagan-era sense of bravado and self-righteousness that was so palpable then just comes rushing back into focus in the hour spent with these guys.
I know this show is critically acclaimed, but I can't for the life of me understand why the viewership is as low as it is. But then again, you are required to think and feel while consuming this drama. It does bring to mind the power of film/theatre-- much like watching the film "Downfall" made be question my very nature at the point where I suddenly, surprisingly, found myself feeling sympathetic toward the Nazis in the bunker-- the decades-long drumbeat of how awful the KGB is and was, gets turned on its head here. It makes you ask questions of yourself, that I'm sure plenty of people find uncomfortable. But isn't that why we watch something like this? For the delicious and profound questioning it makes you undertake?
I'm missing this show already, and can't wait for the next round of adventures. It's going to keep me wondering, in its absence, though, just how many different directions can Paige's eyebrows meander at the same time?
LOVED THE 1ST 3 SEASONS UNTIL THEY BROUGHT PAIGE INTO THEIR CHARACTER DISCUSTS ME-SHE'S SUCH A *** WIMP. I WON'T BE WATCHING MUCH LONGER IF HER CHARACTER STAYS ON THE SAME PATH. SHOULD GET RID OF HER SOMEHOW.
Wow I have finally caught up in full with all three seasons of "The Americans" and it's the best Suspense/Drama show I have ever watched and I watch a ton of television shows. I will say this is a review for all three seasons and not just one or two of them. I will start off with the story which takes place in Washington, . during the Cold War in the 1980's. The story progresses outside of this conflict to center on a married KGB couple with children that are spies working for their Motherland Russia. I love the story because no show to my recollection has ever dived into a story like this one and least of all not centered on it. I will move onto the acting which is Superb. I mean Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as the main protagonists are Incredible and really flesh the characters out. The other actors and actresses all do an Amazing job including Noah Emmerich as the FBI Agent. I will follow up now on the action which is in my opinion extremely scrutinized and I mean that in a great way. The action/espionage is done Masterfully as it was created by Joe Weisberg who used to be in the CIA. I believe he recreates that time period with exquisite detail. The action is not Game of Thrones violence but when it's there it's all out and running for the finish line. I will finish with the cinematography which is done flawlessly and every shot and angle is shot with a purpose. I will close by saying this is a Must See television show. I mean I can think of no other show that keeps my Heart racing every episode at what might happen next like this show does and you will not regret watching it of that I can assure you. I can't wait for Season 4.
@ stephenhill52459615, I am 100% in agreement with you. I stuck to the bitter end JUST to see if those waste of spaces would be caught and put away forever. And what they were putting the Daughter through! Yea, the Dad was there to help shield her from becoming part of the "machine" but, he too HAS to answer for his crimes. The Mom, lock her away deep into a pit and let her rot. I loved this show and at the same time hated it. I am glad it is off of the air. As a vet having served during the show's timeline, I am disgusted by it. Oh, and hooray for the Daughter at the end. Now I can fantasize that her scummy parents were caught, tried and hung as well they deserved.
The Americans is one of the most underrated shows on TV, and it should be having the same exposure as the likes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Tense, gripping, awesome cold war drama at the top of its game with some great acting from Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell. The child actors are surprisingly good as well, and the rich atmosphere of this show with the strong serialization and individual episode quality (there hasn't been a poor one three seasons in) makes this a must watch.
I was a real fan of the Americans, but season 3 is just too slow moving. Everythiing so far should have been in just 3 episodes. The show has gotten away from spying and into endless unrelated diversions which die of their own weight. The whole South African saga was a waste of time and not connected with the main focus of FBI vs. KGB. Phililips' fake affair with the teenager is pathettic and not appropriate. The killing of the old lady in the computer repair shop was unbearable and cruel.
Boring sessions with Gabriel seem to be a part of each episode I can't believe he is the model of a KGB controller, assigned to the US.. In those days, it would more likely be some tough guy who looks like Ivan Konev or Georgi Zhukov or Vladimir Putin. How come Gabriel never seems to interfact with the KGB Rizidentura or Arkady or Oleg who are more believable. The only saving grace of this show is Paige (Holly Taylor) who will really be a star and Annet Mahendra (Nina) who is also terrific and the guy who plays Arkady and Oleg. . .Finally, it is incredible showing the FBI so incompetent that they are not staking out Martha's home to see who goes there (Philliip) There is no real story to season 3, it is just a collection of reactions. I wish Stan (Agent Beeman) had more of a love interest in TORI, she is HOT and she had her own TV show about a sports psychologist.
The show is just amazing, no need to say anything else. Now answering to a previous review: the "extremely evil characters" its the point , if you have a high sensitivity for that kind of stuff then this show is not for yoy. And i doubt there will be such exodus as walter white was an extremely evil and selfish character but people still loved and loves the show. The main character doesnt have to be a knight in shiny armor saving ladies and puppies for a show to be good.
Just watched the tire burning scene on the latest episode. With the two main characters constant killing of people and watching this cruel execution I am finding myself wanting the main characters caught, tried and executed for their violent crimes. This show needs to change it's direction or viewers are going to stage a mass exodus and it will be cancelled. I am very serious here. Hard to like them when they are extremely evil people.
This show has me on the edge of my seat multiple times an episode. Even the so-called "slow" episodes have enough conflict/drama to grab my attention. The family dynamic is also intriguing/tense to say the least. It's not your everyday simple, hackneyed script neither. You're not left rooting for any side in particular because it's a show that delves into the grey area of is right and that is definitely oversimplifying the great writing/acting.
The show has way too many characters to have a big impact. There are countless FBI, Russian, whatever spies now that I have to get a pen and paper to keep track. No good or bad guys, am I suppose to root for Russia or USA. This show has probably got good reviews due to being off the beaten path. The most overrated show on TV.
FX- you killed off " The Bridge" and let this garbage go on! How bad is that.
I was not aware of this show until fairly recently, as I pay little if any attention to the FX channel. Though I had not seen any of the first two seasons, I decided to try watching season 3. I found that I could pretty much follow the story and plot despite not having seen what preceded it.
But after two episodes I am "turned off' of this show. Graphic explicit simulated(?) sex scenes in one episode, and showing a woman sitting on a toilet bowl urinating in a second episode, are highly repugnant. Whether the producers/directors/writers were trying for "shock value" or they wanted to show how "liberated' they are from having to observe conventional decency is irrelevant. Those scenes displayed an extreme lack of good taste.
This is a shame because the story is intriguing (no pun intended) and the characters both interesting and well written. It would have been enjoyable to continue watching the show. Instead, I will not bother with it any further and will go back to ignoring the FX channel.
It's not all action and you have to focus on subtitles and terminology (and be somewhat familiar with history) but it's a decent show for those who enjoy spy stuff of the Cold War era. The show puts both sides in perspective; both Americans and Russians are shown as human beings with their own problems and feelings, aside from being brainwashed or manipulated by their governments.
This show should have been great. But unlikable characters and shoddily composed story lines have caused it to fall far short of its promising potential. I love a good anti-hero story, but I simply could not bring myself to root for Elizabeth and Philip. Elizabeth, a supposedly brilliant secret agent, is blinded by her own brainwashed upbringing/training to the point of annoyance. She refuses, for instance, to let her daughter go to church camp because "that's how they get indoctrinate them when they're young"-- does she seriously not pause for a moment to contemplate how old SHE was indoctrinated? Really? The story lines are imbued with a darkness reminiscent of a Breaking Bad or Fargo, but without any of the redeeming qualities that would render the show worth watching.
Much like The Sopranos, I love how this show gets you so close to the characters and their beliefs and how they think that what they are doing is right and just that you realise you're rooting for the people who in real life are the baddies. This takes some very clever writing, great acting and relatable pressures, because otherwise we would see only the values and the poliics, the red army, the evil. Instead we are presented with humans, families, realistic people who have grown up in a harsh war-torn country that needs change, and they think they have found it, they think everything is worth creating this better world.
So when you see these people trying to make the world a better place, it's all too easy to forget the world they want isn't the same as the one we want. It challenges our concepts and values and how we make our decisions. This challenge to our values and which side we are on can help to reinforce how lucky we are and that fighting against communism was the right move at the time.
But ultimately, entertainment and story-teling allows us to imagine and experience events and feelings we would never have in real life, so a show like this is addictive, because sometimes, it's fun to play the "bad
This shows great premise is completely squandered by the poor, incoherent writing. Somehow they've managed to blow a great love story between two likeable leads within the first several episodes and it continues to devolve into a soapy mess.
In the FBI office where Stan Beeman works, there is a room they call "The Vault".
I'm just wondering if anyone knows why it would be called that and what makes it special?
Presumably, it would be sound proof, bullet proof, maybe even lead lined to protect the occupants from X-rays?
We've seen it used in moments of National Security threats - like when the President was shot. In what other circumstances would it be used?
I would think that if a nuclear bomb ever exploded in Washington, there would probably be little point in thinking that room would provide any protection or would still be able to communicate with other government agencies.
But I'm curious to know if anyone here has any opinions as to what other kinds of qualities would be built into that room and when and how the FBI might expect to use it?
The show is beginning to lose my interest. I'm finding it quite an insult to my intelligence that I'm assaulted with every 8 minutes another sexual situation scene. How many times can we watch a fictionally married couple have sex? Have the writers of the show run out of KGB story lines already? I will discontinue watching the show unless the writers come up with better content for viewing. If I want to watch a couple having sex on the screen, I can log onto the internet at any given time. I was hoping to be entertained in a more intelligent fashion, by way of a witty writer giving me a story of a KGB Agent. .
I really enjoy the drama of the show. But I am getting bored, after an entire season and into this one, week after week; every mission the Russians run seems to work out. As for the FBI and the Americans, they're always screwing up. The most pathetic part is, every American citizen is a sell out for sex. Have sex with a guy and he's prepared to commit treason. I wonder how the Russians managed to lose the cold war with so many sex crazed Americans with Top Secret clearances ready to give up secrets for some bedroom action.
It's kinda freak how much I love Elizabeth and Philip because what they do is not right. But the FBI is no saint either. And I think this is the whole point of it: wanting that the FBI destroy the enemy but not wanting it at the same time! I am a great fan of Matthew Rhys and he's amazing!
When I first heard about The Americans, people were saying that it was FX's Homeland. I immediately gave it a pass, since Showtime's terrorist threat-hunt show gets on my nerves. A few episodes and good reviews later, I decided to give it a try - and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is the show truly riveting and suspenseful, like a true espionage one should be, but it is a powerful drama as well. The undercover Russian spies lead a very suburban life - nice house, two kids. They are so immersed in the American way of life that the husband starts to have a change of heart: is the "enemy" as bad as they say, after all? Or are the agents from both sides just puppets in their government's hands? The Americans addresses these and other questions well. And the fact that it takes place in the 80s, during the Cold war, it gives a nice, retro touch to the universal story of loyalty and family love - and its complexities. Great acting, soundtrack and opening titles. Highly recommended. My only complaint would be the fact that the Russian spies can have an impeccable American accent even though they were born and raised in Russia. Anyone who knows about language learning is aware that this would be almost impossible. A minor flaw, however.
I guess all this fascination with this series has a lot to do with being American. Even though I can appreciate the craftsmanship in the writing, directing and acting of it, and even though I appreciate the historical context being woven into the action, I must say that I am quite disappointed about the main characters' "vibes": there is hardly anyone to like (or even to hate, for that matter). The acting is fine, I guess (and I am especially fond of Nina, Stan Beeman and Claudia - but the leads are still somehow dull and robotic, even. - But maybe that's what life as a spy inmidst enemy territory does to you.
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