It should be noted that I have since moved to just updating the original review, this post was originally broken into seasons. I have tried to update further seasons below the intro. Starting with newest and working back.
OVERALL: Absolute must watch tv show.
The Americans is an American period drama television series created by Joe Weisberg for the FX television network. Set in the early 1980s during the Cold War, it is the story of Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., with their children Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati). Their neighbor Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) is an FBI agent working in counterintelligence.
BREAKDOWN BY SEASON
Worth it? Yes
This is sadly the first season I have seen that has slid backwards.
The acting is still great, so no problems there. However the storylines were a lot less interesting. Maybe its because the renowned character actress Margo Martingale didn’t have as big an influence this season.
Let me say that Frank Langella was a high point in the season. He is older now, but still able to push through with his acting and make me feel like he is a real person.
The low points came once again with Paige, the daughter. Now that they have told her who they are, they waffle around telling her no when she throws temper tantrums. That whole situation sucks and I try and fast forward sometimes through those scenes.
The other areas overall was Phillip’s fascination with EST, and more focus on the Rezidentura. None of those were entertaining and I don’t really care to know the people.
Pros: Frank Langella is still keeping it real.
Cons: Slower stories with no payoff, and the whole daughter situation. Can we please move on yet?
Worth it? Yes
I should just slap my review for season 2 here, but multiply everything by five.
The story is still really good. The writers are obviously hitting their strider. Phillip and Elizabeth are even more interesting to watch, along with Frank Langella who is back as a handler for them.
During the season it covers how Nina may be able to get out of prison in Russia, Stan deals with his divorce and with both Phillip and Elizabeth pushing back and forth over what to tell Paige.
While everything positive is great, I am absolutely hating the Paige stuff. That was almost enough for me to stop watching. Her fits may be “teen” for tv, but in my experience in hard circumstances that would have been done by now.
Pros: writing, most of the acting (honestly all of the acting) and just overall still getting better.
Cons: The angst has been kicked up to an 11 for the teenager… Not liking that.
Worth it? Yes
Not only is it still a good series, it got better as well.
The series continues with following their family as Philipp and Elizabeth continue spying. It starts with a horrific death of another “illegal” couple they are friends with, and wraps the season up with finding out who and why the murder happened.
They got over the whole “will they, won’t they” situation and established the two main protagonists (are they protagonists if they are the Soviets?) who love each other. We get a bit more of a larger overarching story and the plots run together well.
The only real negative I have is not the actress playing Paige, their 14 year old daughter, and not the actual writing, I just hate the whiny self-entitled privilege that she works from. That is a good writing thing, but its the part of the series that drives me nuts.
Pros: This is still better than Homeland, and a great thriller.
Cons: I still hate angsty 14 year old drama.
Worth it? Yes
A top notch spy movie set in a perfect time period.
Unlike other conspiracy series such as Homeland, The Americans focuses on my favorite time period, yes the same time period as Atomic Blonde, the 1980s and the cold war. I do realize this is my nostalgic teen years so I do have a feeling of connection, but I do believe it is good even without that. The acting is very good, the story is compelling and the chemistry between the actors is perfect. The series keeps moving forward, and while sometimes it is like watching a slow motion train wreck, things don’t always go the way you think they will.
I do like the fact that show doesn’t portray either side as evil. The agents on both sides have feelings, relationships and believe in their own ways of life. I think it is this part that really allows someone to just immerse themselves in the show.
My only issue with the first season is the “will they, won’t they” dynamic that happens between Phillip and Elizabeth. I understand that they have to work things out. After all, they weren’t actually ever married, they were two Soviet KGB agents who started their life together 20 years before as a cover. It is nice to see how they react differently to the situation, but the almost fully commit as real spouses, and then to back off is annoying. The same with Jennings and his wife, the relationship drama is sometimes more than I prefer.
Pros: If you like spy thrillers, the 1980s nostalgia, or just good acting it is all here.
Cons: A little too much relationship drama.
Season 2 is in my Amazon queue as we speak!