Set during the Cold War period in the 1980s, "The Americans" is the story of Elizabeth (Keri Russell of “Felicity") and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys of "Brothers & Sisters"), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in a Northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., shortly after Ronald Reagan is elected President, with their unsuspecting children (Holly Taylor and Keidrich Sellati) and their neighbor, Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), an FBI counterintelligence agent.

     The Jennings are just another normal American couple with the standard two American children, a moody teenage girl and a happy-go-lucky preteen boy who loves cars. The American couple work in the most inconspicuous field, the travel industry, as owners of a travel agency. ”Where was the Travelocity Noam when you need him.” Given their jobs in travel these Americans always have valid reasons for working weird hours, having last-minute trips, and dropping everything for “Work” (i.e., the Spy Game) "Okay, I’ll stop with the Americans, you get the point.”  There are a few things off about this couple, which the daughter explores, like the lack of any family history. The only thing we or even the kid’s know about their parents are that their own parents are supposedly dead and they have no siblings or relatives.

     The mother, Elizabeth (Keri Russell), is cold, indifferent, and hard on her children, what I assume Russian mothers are like. In fact, sometimes she’s so cold, you wonder if she even love's her children. Her overall, harsh attitude is probably because of her true belief in the cause of communism; obeying without question, country above family and a distain for capitalism. As for Philip (Matthew Rhys); he’s a fun, caring and a very warm and loving father. Too him, espionage, is just his duty and the only way, he can see, to keep his family safe and together. Due to this protective nature he doesn’t always agree or even follow orders that may endanger the family, which causes strife between him and Elizabeth. The only thing I can’t decide is whether they see each other as little more than co-parents of the children and their assigned partners in crime.

     Their “Work”, consists mostly of information gathering through willing informants or by manipulate an unsuspecting marks. Elizabeth uses her sexuality and a straight forward approach to get what she wants or just plain blackmail victims into helping her. As for Phil, he uses his countless personas, “And the wigs, the so many wigs,”  to go around unrecognized, while using his abundant charisma to prey on the lonely and weak, and his general like-ability to get into places he shouldn’t be. And if need be, they’re not afraid of getting their hands bloodied.

     Before I forget, there is also a subplot featuring their FBI agent neighbor, Stan. Who has just finished a stint undercover as a white supremacist and is now returning home to a rocky marriage and new job in D.C. “Man, it’s hard out there for a white supremacist family man :)”  This story, revolves around Stan’s counterintelligence work, which entails spying on the Soviet Embassy in Washington. In particular, focusing on his relationship with a beautiful Russian secretary in the embassy, which he has recruited as a double-agent.

     The Americans (FX) is one of the best drama/thrillers on television, with two outstanding male leads, and an amazing female lead, making it a must watch. The supporting cast is great, and the actress playing the teenage daughter is awesome, being realistic while not overly annoying. "Now this is how you write a teenage girl, I’m looking at you Homeland.” It’s filmed in dark and washed-out color style that emphasizes an authentic "80’s” experience, which helps to pull you into the cloak and dagger world of Cold War Espionage.

The Americans (FX)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

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by the American Film Institute Awards

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