After a tie with Justified for the most watched first season of any drama in the network's history, FX's new series The Americans is drawing a lot of buzz and has recently been approved for a second season. Fans will be gearing up for more chases, fights, complicated family drama, and lots and lots of anti- American espionage.
In its first run, it has already received four Critics’ Choice Television Award nominations – the most of any first year drama series. Now that's impressive! The list of nominations included Best Drama Series, Best Actress in a Drama Series for Keri Russell, Best Actor in a Drama Series for Matthew Rhys, and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Noah Emmerick.
Set in the cold war era beginning in 1981 just after Ronald Reagan is elected president, The Americans, is an intense and gripping new drama series about the complex marriage of two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington D.C. They conduct various missions and conflict with each other over staying loyal to the overall plan.
On the surface, Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings seem to personify the American dream. They have an average family: nice house, cars, two children, good jobs, etc. They certainly don't act like any soviet stereotype. In some ways, they seem to be and act more American than actual Americans. This is because they were both selected from a young age by the KGB to be conditioned on how to behave like Americans. They have undergone very rigorous and intense training. They keep everything hidden from their children, who were born strictly to maintain the cover. As the series begins, they have now been masquerading as this couple for 15 years.
Phillip and Elizabeth's unusual and complex relationship proves to be a very intriguing aspect of what makes the show so compelling. A large part of the drama centers around their marriage. There's a lot more to it than just the action and the espionage. They each make sacrifices to maintain the cover of the marriage. It is apparent in the season one pilot that Phillip is already beginning to desire an end to all the spying and to just be an American citizen. Elizabeth on the other hand is set in her ways and even confronts Phillip with violence when he suggests defecting to America by turning themselves in to their new neighbor (conveniently an FBI agent assigned to look for Russian spies in the US!) Phillip has also grown to actually love Elizabeth for real while she is still always focused on the overall mission. He hates that his wife seduces targets to gain important information. He ultimately buckles and continues to spy and complete assignments despite not wanting to because he recognizes that it is the only real way to make Elizabeth happy.
Series creator Joe Weisberg has openly stated that the show is not about the espionage as much as it about a marriage. It is interesting to see that the marriage, despite being under the craziest of circumstances, still looks and feels like any other marriage. The complex relationship was what drew the stars to the script. For an interview with Keri Russel and Matthew Rhys discussing the season click here.
Production for the second season will begin this fall with the premiere set to be sometime in 2014. There's no telling what's in store for the Jennings next as this crazy story unfolds. The show has been receiving positive reviews and if that doesn't keep it on the air, the large number of viewers will. To have such a successful opening run is a rare feet. The Americans is already shaping up to be yet another quality program to be added to the list of many new emerging shows that are present in this exciting time for television.