A thread for The Americans on FX

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So, this is really quite great, right? Less tiresome plotmechanics, more about the people and how they deal with their weird world. Really loved yesterdays episode. It's amazing how unsympathetic the characters are allowed to be. I mean, they haven't really done anything that Tony Soprano or Walther White wouldn't do, but... For some reason I'm more shocked at what's going on on a weekly basis in this show. It might be because the show still insists on us seeing them as decent people trying to do their best in a tough job, and it's just... weird...

Frederik B, Thursday, 28 February 2013 16:38 (seven years ago) link

I want to watch this! I subscribed to a couple FX shows on the iTunes store, what with not having cable television, and they kept showing promos. Is it set in the present?

☠ ☃ ☠ (mh), Thursday, 28 February 2013 16:46 (seven years ago) link

It's set in 1980-81, and the main characters are undercover Soviet Agents. The historical setting is probably a good thing. I think it allows everything to be less black and white than it is on Homeland, but then again I've only watched two episodes of Homeland, so I hardly know what I'm talking about.

Frederik B, Thursday, 28 February 2013 16:53 (seven years ago) link

Uh yeah things aren't exactly black & white on homeland

in a chef-driven ambulance (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 28 February 2013 17:15 (seven years ago) link

Still doesn't mean that they can't be more grey on Americans. Like, the terrorists are still pretty much the bad guys on Homeland, right? At least the foreign ones, right?

Frederik B, Thursday, 28 February 2013 17:56 (seven years ago) link

pointlessly rapey first episode, omg the fbi guy moved in next door, 80s stuff! no thanks

adam, Thursday, 28 February 2013 18:25 (seven years ago) link

is this good or is it good like mad men is "good"

This is called money bags. (zachlyon), Thursday, 28 February 2013 18:32 (seven years ago) link

nvm everything sucks

This is called money bags. (zachlyon), Thursday, 28 February 2013 18:33 (seven years ago) link

I wouldn't call the pilot "pointlessly" rapey, nor particularly graphic in its one rape scene.

And yes this has turned out to be every bit as good as I was hoping.

Simon H., Thursday, 28 February 2013 19:03 (seven years ago) link

And this last episode adressed a few of the icky stuff with that rape-plot, and did it very, very well. Really, every episode is adding so much to the story at the moment. The characters and the world is getting so much richer from week to week, it is really exciting.

Frederik B, Thursday, 28 February 2013 19:06 (seven years ago) link

Yeah, this show is great. The conflicts between the lead couple - him being more sympathetic to the Americans/understanding of American culture vs. her still being super-antagonistic and unwilling to recognize that life in America even in 1980-81 was pretty sweet compared to the USSR - are handled very well. I also like that they get the look right; that early in the '80s was still basically the '70s in a lot of ways, so you don't see people wearing garish neon T-shirts and Wayfarers and whatnot. It has that dingy 1970s look.

誤訳侮辱, Thursday, 28 February 2013 19:12 (seven years ago) link

homeland is pretty b+w.

s.clover, Thursday, 28 February 2013 19:33 (seven years ago) link

so thoughts on this show

-great soundtrack so far: fleetwood mac, roxy music, echo and the bunnymen, and some early 80s sleaze/cheese (queens of heart, in the air tonight, harden my heart)
-noah emmerich is the gem of this series so far.
-john boy as an upper level fbi agent
-use of wigs, tv critic speniwall says it the best:

"Phillip and Elizabeth have access to some really high-end wig technology for 1981, no? I'm very impressed by the stuff Phillip wears in particular, since it has to hide his big afro"
-hopefully more justified alum show up, given Marge's appearance and Yost's contribution as an exec producer.

jbn, Friday, 1 March 2013 02:31 (seven years ago) link

Poor Philip, many of his wigs and disguises seem to be variation on 'sex offender'. That wig in the garage scene? Woof.

blatherskite, Friday, 1 March 2013 05:30 (seven years ago) link

good mustache

j., Friday, 1 March 2013 06:01 (seven years ago) link

This is excellent. Feels pretty realistic. I read the Mitrokin Archive recently, a massive history of the KGB based on papers smuggled out by a defector, and it's clear the writers have as well. Aside from that the look and feel is very good.

Last episode I've watched is the one set around the Reagan assassination attempt, best one so far, really illustrating the massive gap between the KGB's ability to collect intelligence and their ability to analyse and act on it. Also swung the Phillip and Elizabeth power dynamic back to Phillip.

I think this is the most interesting thing about the show, the idea that you have these two independent agents acting out a lie even to their kids and you have one clearly assimilating into the US and one building a shell to prevent it. I loved seeing Elizabeth wince when her kid said Poland was a part of Russia. I can see her inner torment about her children not being raised as good communists.

FYI This is all on Hulu so no need to buy on iTunes

American Fear of Pranksterism (Ed), Friday, 1 March 2013 17:24 (seven years ago) link

Nice, I hadn't noticed! I'm sure they'll yank it at some point, but I'll get on that

☠ ☃ ☠ (mh), Friday, 1 March 2013 17:52 (seven years ago) link

pointlessly rapey first episode, omg the fbi guy moved in next door, 80s stuff! no thanks

― adam, Thursday, February 28, 2013 1:25 PM (3 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

basically, jfc the pilot was laying it on thick

it wasn't "pointless" but that's kind of the problem, felt like a plot device

This is called money bags. (zachlyon), Sunday, 3 March 2013 21:52 (seven years ago) link

i'll watch a couple more episodes cause i'm weak and hopeful

sick of being promised 'the golden age of television' and getting empty crap

This is called money bags. (zachlyon), Sunday, 3 March 2013 21:54 (seven years ago) link

If you are expecting to see the best stuff ever then this isn't it, but it's totally fun rollicking espionage junk ... and surprisingly romantic at times?

pun lovin criminal (polyphonic), Sunday, 3 March 2013 21:56 (seven years ago) link

yeah i'm not actually surprised. but there are SVU marathons like twice a week, i don't need more junk, and p much every serial drama is junk right now.

This is called money bags. (zachlyon), Sunday, 3 March 2013 22:03 (seven years ago) link

junk lyfe

pun lovin criminal (polyphonic), Sunday, 3 March 2013 22:05 (seven years ago) link

@ zachlyon: So, you don't like plot, yet you don't like Mad Men either :) Like, what tv-shows do you like?

I've been thinking a bit more about it: This last episode reminded me of the first few seasons of The Wire, where it was all about the different sides observing each other and smaller bits of plot rolling in to this weird ball of yarn. And then someone would tug at a single string (usually one of the 'good' guys, because they didn't really know enough to realize the consequences of what was going on) and the bodies would start falling. I mean, it's in no way the Wire, episode four of the Wire was several levels above anything in this show, but some of it operates in the same way.

Frederik B, Sunday, 3 March 2013 22:35 (seven years ago) link

i like shows that come close to the basic (not that i like this word but) depth of the worst movies on my netflix queue? it basically amounts to the wire and various recent shows on nickelodeon

This is called money bags. (zachlyon), Sunday, 3 March 2013 23:14 (seven years ago) link

i never gave much of a chance to mad men but it's always struck me as mostly-empty meandering

i like shows that walk with purpose and direction and swiftness, hard as they are to create obv

This is called money bags. (zachlyon), Sunday, 3 March 2013 23:18 (seven years ago) link

that's nuts. the first season of mad men was completely tightly wound. a few seasons in, it kinds of settled a bit.

s.clover, Monday, 4 March 2013 00:25 (seven years ago) link

the later seasons of Mad Men are more fun than the early ones, honestly. the little experiments like season 5's multiple timeline episode, etc.

tbh the only current show I really value is Justified so I like overplotty ridiculousness, ymmv yada yada

ta-nehisi goatse (fadanuf4erybody), Monday, 4 March 2013 00:45 (seven years ago) link

I guess I'm going to have to start watching nickelodeon.

jbn, Monday, 4 March 2013 02:20 (seven years ago) link

you'd be surprised

This is called money bags. (zachlyon), Monday, 4 March 2013 02:35 (seven years ago) link

I get finding Mad Men dull at first, but from near the end of S1 on (parts of S4 excepted), it hums along with quite a bit of purpose.

Simon H., Monday, 4 March 2013 03:31 (seven years ago) link

(vauge spoilers) At the end of the first season, someone walks into someone elses office, and explains the main plot of the season. That other person answers with 'who cares?' When even the people in the show think the plot is unimportant, I can see why other people would think it is meandering. The show has an accumulative quality, though, which is why it just keeps getting better.(/spoiler)

Frederik B, Monday, 4 March 2013 09:23 (seven years ago) link

that _was_ the plot of the season!

s.clover, Monday, 4 March 2013 18:25 (seven years ago) link

i like where they're going with this.

s.clover, Friday, 8 March 2013 20:42 (seven years ago) link

they're breaking with history, yes? when reagan was shot at, they said that james brady died. not sure i heard anything afterward to contradict that (e.g. if it was a bad news report, temporarily hidden by the government, etc.).

j., Saturday, 9 March 2013 03:42 (seven years ago) link

homeland is pretty b+w.

― s.clover, Thursday, February 28, 2013 1:33 PM (1 week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

?? Really? Even with the drone attack and the fact that a lot of what I get out of the carrie/brody thing is that they are drawn to each other because they've both been damaged and effectively used up ad ppl by the govt

when reagan was shot at, they said that james brady died.

This is in keeping w/ the initial reports, which later of course turned out to be false. Pretty sure the correction appears later in the episode itself.

Simon H., Saturday, 9 March 2013 07:48 (seven years ago) link

Killer ep tonight. 6 for 6.

Simon H., Thursday, 14 March 2013 04:53 (seven years ago) link

one month passes...

Just watched all of these in a row over the weekend, not bad but I'm wondering how long they can keep up the game of cat and mouse with the FBI neighbor before they either run out of ideas or have to team up in some way? Also would like to see some flashbacks since they're supposed to have been in the US for years at this point.

a monolithic testament to shiftlessness and lost productivity (dan m), Monday, 15 April 2013 16:20 (seven years ago) link

Yeah, it's 1981 in the show's "present" and they supposedly came over in maybe 1963 or something, so THE ENTIRE SEVENTIES is a blank canvas.

Johnny Fever, Monday, 15 April 2013 16:22 (seven years ago) link

team up? why wouldn't they just ice the dude

j., Monday, 15 April 2013 18:08 (seven years ago) link

Elizabeth would. Not sure about Philip.

Johnny Fever, Monday, 15 April 2013 18:10 (seven years ago) link

xp was thinking about if they were able to turn him or vice-versa, but yeah he'd probably more likely just get one in the dome

a monolithic testament to shiftlessness and lost productivity (dan m), Monday, 15 April 2013 18:17 (seven years ago) link

if they were able to turn him

That guy just killed an innocent Russian, one he was pretty sure all along was innocent, just for revenge. So I'm pretty sure he'd die before he turned.

Johnny Fever, Monday, 15 April 2013 18:28 (seven years ago) link

three weeks pass...

The season finale contained some of the most tense television I've seen in some while. Can't wait for this show to come back.

Johnny Fever, Monday, 6 May 2013 05:56 (seven years ago) link

Games Without Frontiers!

Gukbe, Monday, 6 May 2013 06:03 (seven years ago) link

Is it coming back? I hope so, but haven't been able to figure out what sort of reception it's getting in the US.

stet, Monday, 6 May 2013 11:29 (seven years ago) link

Yeah, it's been renewed for a second season. I watched the last five episodes these last few days. A great debut season, all in all.

Frederik B, Monday, 6 May 2013 11:34 (seven years ago) link

Yeah i loved this.

sktsh, Monday, 6 May 2013 12:20 (seven years ago) link


ok, my heart belongs to annet mahendru

j., Monday, 13 May 2013 06:53 (seven years ago) link

also, margo martindale playing ms. pac man = A+

j., Monday, 13 May 2013 07:03 (seven years ago) link

Ha that does raise a thought I did have a few times - wouldnt someone see all these dead people and go "hey what the?" I mean they did at the *end*, after they'd all escaped...

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Wednesday, 8 August 2018 02:08 (one year ago) link

And for the most part, real Illegals never really murdered anyone, much less crushed them into suitcases and choked them with paintbrushes and whatever.

...........................as far as we know DUN DUN DUUUUN

wayne trotsky (Simon H.), Wednesday, 8 August 2018 02:17 (one year ago) link

Remind me why Elizabeth had to kill the painter woman? I thought the Russians wanted to keep her alive for as long as possible because of her husband's job.

the word dog doesn't bark (anagram), Wednesday, 8 August 2018 19:27 (one year ago) link

Wasn't that a mercy killing, a rare instance of compassion on Elizabeth's part? I can't remember.

clemenza, Wednesday, 8 August 2018 19:30 (one year ago) link

I think she also wanted to be done with that assignment

mh, Wednesday, 8 August 2018 19:32 (one year ago) link

painter woman (with husband) had already botched a suicide/euthanasia attempt, no?

A Box of After Dinner Comics Shipped to Your House Each Month (seandalai), Wednesday, 8 August 2018 20:30 (one year ago) link

Yeah, they fucked it up so Elizabeth had to finish it.

Johnny Fever, Wednesday, 8 August 2018 21:10 (one year ago) link

yes, it's the only decent killing elizabeth did the entire series; and oddly the only one that seemed to bother her

akm, Thursday, 9 August 2018 14:15 (one year ago) link

no, there was that old lady, the secretary, that worked at that factory or whatever. She didn't like killing her either.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 9 August 2018 14:17 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

This ended three months ago, so this is a very timely post.

I’ve always wondered why virtually everyone likes the final episode more than I do, and I think I finally figured it out. It has to do with the way Stan uncovers Philip and Elizabeth’s identities. There's no great eureka moment--he starts to suspect them, pokes around their house a little, and then confronts them in a garage.

I was thinking about how that contrasts with all the great eureka movie moments I love. (Lots of spoilers ahead, although they’re all pretty famous.) In Rosemary’s Baby, it’s Mia Farrow spilling the Scrabble tiles on the floor and anagramming Roman Castevet’s name. In Zodiac (whether you think Graysmith is right or not), it’s Lee Allen’s birth certificate. Godfather II: when Michael overhears Fredo mention Johnny Ola. Or another TV show, Breaking Bad; I thought it was fantastic the way Hank found the inscription in the Walt Whitman book. Even something as mainstream as Broadcast News, when Holly Hunter figures out that William Hurt manufactured the tear.

There was just no way The Americans was going to give me that moment--it was a show that very carefully avoided plotted contrivance. That’s one of the main things people loved about it, and I’m sure I appreciated that too, for the most part. But I've been conditioned to wait for such moments and take a lot of pleasure in them, and I wanted that moment here. They actually had it, if they had chosen to use it: the sketch of Elizabeth that Stan looks at after-the-fact. That would have been the most obvious thing in the world to do, to have Stan confront that sketch two episodes earlier, and I’m pretty sure I would have loved it anyway. But such a moment just wasn’t going to be part of The Americans.

clemenza, Tuesday, 28 August 2018 04:45 (one year ago) link

See whereas I would have been way mad if they'd used expected plot contrivances or deus ex machinas or AHA moments!

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Tuesday, 28 August 2018 07:27 (one year ago) link

same, i loved that there was no big climactic moment.

Like it wasn't just one thing but several things at once that made it clear to Stan who his neigbours were: Elizabeth and then Phillip disappearing at Thanksgiving, the trip coinciding with the mess in Chicago, Henry telling him how often his parents disappeared on him, the cigarettes in the yard, and all the details about the sleeper agents he had collected over the years. And only Stan could have figured it out because he knew them so well.

Roz, Tuesday, 28 August 2018 09:00 (one year ago) link

It came full circle nicely too, I think, with the first episode (I think it was?) where he stalked their garage for a bit, being a bit sus of them when he first met them!

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Tuesday, 28 August 2018 23:01 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

Started season 1 this week. Skipped over the thread right now, but it's fun to read along as it unfolds.

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 8 April 2019 22:35 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

Update: I'm now in the middle of S4 - Stan Beeman looks so much like Jandek that I'm now assuming that Jandek is an FBI agent with a secret career as a outsider musician.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 2 July 2019 21:47 (ten months ago) link

Haha, wow, I *never* made that connection but you've planted it right into my head now and I can't unsee it!

I still have to watch the last season, which is rather daft, as it's one of my favourite show.

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 2 July 2019 21:51 (ten months ago) link

and it's considerably better than the next-to-last season

Simon H., Wednesday, 3 July 2019 00:18 (ten months ago) link

Watch it LBI! The rare show that truly nails its ending.

Roz, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 01:03 (ten months ago) link

Damn I wish I could experience this show anew a second time, what a blast.

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 01:22 (ten months ago) link

Challop: i liked it more than breaking bad.

Stoop Crone (Trayce), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 01:23 (ten months ago) link

It is better. it's all about the slow burn. Breaking Bad starts in high gear

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 01:29 (ten months ago) link

Not a challop - I also prefer it to BB, which was always a little too male-centric for me.

Roz, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 01:34 (ten months ago) link

Breaking Bad: "Science, b*tch!". The giant magnet episode was the worst.


The Americans is much more comparable with Mad Men, although again that's male-centric.

viborg, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 02:28 (ten months ago) link

BTW, this is easily in my top five of nuTV - up there with Mad Men, The Expanse, The Sopranos, Romanzo Criminale.

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 02:54 (ten months ago) link

It’s absolutely better than Breaking Bad.

JimD, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 09:04 (ten months ago) link

I still have to watch the last season, which is rather daft, as it's one of my favourite show.

― Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre),

It's the only reason I've kept my Netflix account - last year it was announced it'd become available in NL by June 2019 but it's still not there :/

willem, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 11:38 (ten months ago) link

and it's considerably better than the next-to-last season

― Simon H.

Good to know! S5 was a bit of a letdown when I binged through all seasons last year.

willem, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 11:40 (ten months ago) link

I'm struggling to remember if this show ever mentioned Chernobyl at all.

The final series - and the last episode in particular - is wonderful and anyone who's slogged through S5 should watch it.

Matt DC, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 11:53 (ten months ago) link

I'm def going to watch it soon, Roz!

I ditched my Netflix account a couple of years ago, and got The Americans through t0rr3nts. If you've trouble getting a hold of them, let me know Willem.

Uptown VONC (Le Bateau Ivre), Wednesday, 3 July 2019 12:05 (ten months ago) link

I'm struggling to remember if this show ever mentioned Chernobyl at all.

Hmm, not sure if Claudia makes passing reference? We jump from 1984 to 1987 between S5 and S6 so it's never a contemporary event.

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 3 July 2019 12:20 (ten months ago) link

one month passes...

I think I figured out who they killed for her identity:

Philip Nunez, Friday, 16 August 2019 22:40 (nine months ago) link

five months pass...

I watched S1 this past week and am trying to decide whether to carry on. The characters are reasonably interesting, and the shifting Stan-Nina power dynamic was well done, but the plotting seems rote. Minor crisis/minor resolution x2, midseason slightly-larger crisis, not-really-a-resolution, build to finale, big setpiece and out. Bingeing pulls the curtain back on the writer's room, for this and so many other narrative/dramatic series. TV is so much better when I have to wait a week between episodes (Twin Peaks, Better Call Saul).

Miami weisse (WmC), Monday, 10 February 2020 15:44 (three months ago) link

Do carry on. A lot of the minor wrongs of s1 disappear in 2-4. 5 is plodding for no discernable reason, and then 6 is a superb cap off.

Johnny Fever, Monday, 10 February 2020 15:48 (three months ago) link

Can only second what JF said: the show really steps up the pace and gets better from season 2 on.

Le Bateau Ivre, Monday, 10 February 2020 15:59 (three months ago) link

I concur w/ JF's summary as well. s2 essentially takes the form of a murder mystery, and a surprisingly effective one.

bold caucasian eroticism (Simon H.), Monday, 10 February 2020 16:05 (three months ago) link

Same here; it's well worth your investment.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 10 February 2020 16:34 (three months ago) link

ok, I'll give it another season

Miami weisse (WmC), Monday, 10 February 2020 16:42 (three months ago) link

s1 is very good, s2 takes off into excellence
― Sounds like a forks display name (forksclovetofu), Monday, January 19, 2015 6:56 PM (five years ago)

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Monday, 10 February 2020 16:56 (three months ago) link

nth'd. show snowballs from s2 onwards.

Pinche Cumbion Bien Loco (stevie), Monday, 10 February 2020 18:37 (three months ago) link

It's definitely in the mode of "The Shield," where actions taken early compound.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 10 February 2020 18:38 (three months ago) link

I miss Nina

akm, Monday, 10 February 2020 21:17 (three months ago) link

three months pass...

About to watch this!

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 15 May 2020 19:32 (one week ago) link


k*r*n koltrane (Simon H.), Friday, 15 May 2020 19:42 (one week ago) link

My buddy said, "You're a Reagan fetishist, you'll love it."

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 15 May 2020 19:42 (one week ago) link

As with most great shows, it takes a bit to get going but once you're about halfway into season 2, you should be hooked. Second to last season lags, everything else is top notch.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Friday, 15 May 2020 20:19 (one week ago) link

lol, i see i said the exact same thing three months ago.

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Friday, 15 May 2020 20:20 (one week ago) link

That's about when I was hooked too. I was a little lost the first season.

clemenza, Friday, 15 May 2020 20:33 (one week ago) link

I haven't started s2 yet, but I guess I'll get there someday.

herds of unmasked cletuses (WmC), Friday, 15 May 2020 21:24 (one week ago) link

Was considering this when ticking off as-yet-unwatched prestige shows to devour during lockdown. Settled on Rectify for the moment but maybe we'll do Russkie spies next.

Unparalleled Elegance (Old Lunch), Friday, 15 May 2020 21:36 (one week ago) link

I was a little lost the first season.

You have to not mind sometimes being a little lost with this show.

chap, Thursday, 21 May 2020 11:39 (six days ago) link

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