Television Review: The Americans

The concept is pretty straightforward: a Russian couple is trained to be super spies. They lose their accents, learn American ways, and move to the country in the late 1960s. Fast forward to the early 1980s. They’ve got a couple of kids, run a successful travel agency, and they’re still doing top secret missions for the Russians.

And then they get a new next door neighbor: an FBI agent who works in counterintelligence.

Honestly, the tack on neighbor was one item with the premise that I felt might be taking it all too far, jumping off into soap opera territory. But I’d heard good things about the show, and I wanted to give it a shot. We’re now in the sixth and final season, and I’m officially willing to give this show a full recommendation.

What’s good about it?

  • Well, the premise is pretty solid to begin with, but the show really uses it to its full extent. The kids of the spies, for example, are full Americans. They have no idea their parents are Russian. That generates drama, especially as the kids get older and start to wonder what exactly it is their parents do at a travel agency that necessitates them leaving in the middle of the night so often.
  • The historical details of the show are well executed, as well. It’s not nearly as “in your face” as Stranger Things, but you get a really strong 80s vibe throughout the show, and I enjoy that
  • The acting is really well done across the board. Eminently watchable.
  • The plots are, for the most part, great. This is a show that was weaker at the beginning but grew into something very strong. The premise for this final season is absolutely fantastic (no spoilers), and it’s only possible because of how much we’ve already invested into the characters. If they nail the landing on this season, then the entire series will be elevated even higher in my book. (And from what I’ve heard, it does.)

What’s bad about it?

  • Like I said, the early seasons weren’t as good. The show was still trying to find its way somewhat. It’s not that they were bad, but I only gave them a 7/10, if that makes sense. I gave season 5 an 8.5.
  • There’s occasional scenes of very brutal violence. Sometimes gory. Sometimes just plain disgusting. It’s also got a few sex scenes sprinkled throughout, and fairly frequent rear nudity. (Never frontal.) I don’t recall there being issues with bad language, however. (Just trying to cover the bases of what people might object to in the show.)
  • Some episodes are more . . . deliberate than others. Sometimes the big plot streaks forward. Sometimes it plods.

But really, if you’re looking for espionage, the 80s, and family drama, or even just one of those, then this is a good show to check out. It’s been nominated for an Emmy for Best Drama twice, and the entire season is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Already seen it? What did you think? Have any questions? Ask away.

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