This weekend I binged on FX’s The Americans. I had watched season one awhile back, but was out of the country when season two aired, so I fell behind. I decided to do it right and started back at the beginning with episode one of the first season. I figured a little refresher was warranted before I dove into season two; after all, it’d been three years. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead.
So, I reintroduced myself to Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, two KGB Soviet spies posing as Americans during the height of the Cold War in the 1980’s. Phillip and Elizabeth were assigned to each in their early twenties and tasked to pose as a married couple. They are posted in Northern Virginia and work as travel agents but are so deep under cover that their two children and FBI Agent neighbor, Stan, have no idea that the suburban couple done disguises and go on top secret, life or death missions every night.
Personally, I’m kind of ambivalent about this show. I’m not sure why exactly; it has everything that I usually like in my plot lines: secrets, lies, steamy sex scenes, action scenes, and even subtitles! And Keri Russell and Matthew Rys are outstanding as Elizabeth and Phillip, playing them in such a way that it’s hard for me to warm up to Elizabeth, yet I see why Phillip loves her. The two of them make it work.
Thankfully, there are multiple story lines. Some of them I’m invested in, others… Not so much.
For example, I love Elizabeth’s ever-changing relationship with her daughter Paige. As Paige enters adolescence, Elizabeth is at odds with the cultural differences between how she was raised back in Moscow, and how her daughter is being raised in America. And now Paige is starting to get suspicious of her parents and honestly, waiting for that storyline play out is one of the main reasons I’m still watching this show.
Yet some of the story lines drag. Poor FBI agent Stan, I find myself fast forwarding though most of his scenes with his informant turned lover Nina. Not that they’re badly acted, or even poorly written, I just don’t feel invested in the storyline. Stan’s married. He’s cheating on his wife, who has done nothing but try to keep their relationship together. Even though I don’t hate Stan, I don’t love him therefore, it’s hard to root for him, or even feel empathetic when Nina ends up doubling crossing him and his marriage falls apart.
Overall, The Americans is entertains enough. It’s the kind of show I can put on and fall asleep to. I’m not riveted to the screen, but there’s enough there that I’m going back and picking up where I left off the next day. That says something I guess.