The newest drama full of suspense and exciting history aptly titled The Americans has kept me hooked since day one. Starring Keri Russell (Felicity, Dark Skies) and Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters) as Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings, two Soviet KGB officers sent to infiltrate the country as normal U.S. citizens. They have legit jobs, a home in a middle class neighborhood, and their own American born children.
Inspired by the real life Russian spy ring the FBI busted only two years ago, creator Joseph Weisberg said he felt a modern day setting wouldn’t have as much shock appeal. Instead, we watch the drama all unfold during a more intense era, the Cold War. There is the constant threat of nuclear war, escalation from our former President, Ronald Reagan, and espionage is at an all time high! (Allegedly) This, to me, all makes for great TV. Weisberg himself was also once employed by the CIA, so the writings for The Americans are based on past colleague conversations and extensive research.
The Jennings have a life filled with multiple identities, violence, sex, and the lengths they take to keep their true motives a secret from everybody, even their kids. But we quickly learn The Americans is just as much about a marriage and a family as it is about the actual spying. Our characters also include a newly transferred FBI agent, Stan Beeman, who’s just moved in across the street from the Jennings. Stan and his wife are battling their own issues of maintaining a healthy relationship with each other and their kids.
Elizabeth and Phillip have only recently begun to show deeper feelings for each other. They have just started to work on their very seasoned yet new relationship. They had only known each a few hours, before being told about their life together that awaited in America. Remember, their marriage is only meant to be a front. Their one sacred common ground throughout, is their genuine love for the kids, Paige and Henry. And while the reluctant couple is trained to give their lives for the job, it’s the kids lives who hang in the balance.
Ironically both relationships are constantly threatened by the work and the extreme pressure to do what each feels is the right thing for their country. For Phillip, there’s the temptation to “defect” and truly enjoy his present life versus the harsh reality he protects back home. For Elizabeth, her belief in Mother Russia is strong but what about their belief in her? And Stan, well his relationship with his wife is only getting rockier and his precious “mole,” Nina isn’t helping.
Loyalty is a running theme and we’re still not sure where each allegiance lies. There is lurking betrayal on both sides and no one to trust. Maybe not even the homeland themselves.
The Verdict: Watching the couple constantly live on their toes, fearing for the safety of each other, their kids, and their home country makes for a great amount of new suspense every week. From what I can tell, it will be a constant cat and mouse chase with very close calls. We know how it ultimately ends, but the journey is playing out interestingly.
I don’t fancy myself a history nerd, so if I can keep up, so can you. Don’t be afraid to jump right into the first 5 episodes. Apparently, it’s only getting started. The series premiered on the FX network late January and has already been renewed for a second season.
Network: FX Network
Airs: Wednesday nights, at 10:00 pm
Cast: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhysm, Maximiliano Hernández, Holly Taylor, Keidrich Sellati, Noah Emmerich