Television Review: The Americans (FX)

Entertainment seems to have fallen back in love with the 80s with shows like The Carrie Diaries, and The Americans popping up set in this decade. This is good news because for such a fun time it puts a little bit of something fun into the shows even when they are sometimes as bland as The Americans. Depending on your appeal in crime dramas this one runs way too long just to catch anyone. You don’t need a huge almost 2 hour opening.

Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are Russian agents stationed in America during the 1980s. As they track down their own that has betrayed their country they also battle to maintain a normal American life of raising a family, and maintaining they have a normal day job. One American agent though feels something is off about the couple and begins looking into it. Philip is also getting tired of being an agent, and wants to set of on his own in American with Elizabeth so they can be their own people. The two clash on this, and future episodes will tell how things play out for these two.

The interesting thing is that this show sets it up so you don’t know who to root for. Neither the Americans or the Russian agents are portrayed as bad guys necessarily, but since the two Russian agents are who the show centers around you feel more of an urgency for them to not get caught. It will also be interesting to see how the couple maintains their relationship when Elizabeth is fiercely loyal to Russia, while Philip wants to establish a life in America.

Keri Russell is stand out in her role as Elizabeth. She catches the viewer’s attention whenever she is on screen. Matthew Rhys is good also, but something just isn’t as interesting about him. The thing is the cast as a whole seems good. They all can act. The show runs a little slow in certain moments, and the Pilot could have been shortened, and some of the development saved for another show.

The Americans does a cool thing though by trying to capture the 80s vibe it is set in. Even by how the show is shot has a vintage feel to it. The clothes also don’t look modern at all either. Elizabeth’s pants still fit oddly as most the clothing then looked like it did. I rarely saw well-fitted jeans in movies from then that clung to you like a glove these days. These little details make the show better.

The Americans doesn’t start off as the most interesting show on the planet but it seems a little more unique than what we are dealing with on television these days anyways. You have some good actors in it that make it a little stronger also, and a setting that looks like someone actually tried to think through it and it wasn’t quickly shoved together. There is potential for it to grow, but if it doesn’t catch you in the first episode there isn’t a huge change you will want to come back.

Rating 3 of 5.

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