The Americans was really good

Posted on 28 August 2018

The Americans recently concluded its six-season run. While the show finished up a couple of months ago, it hit Amazon recently and we were able to watch the final season in relatively short order the past couple of weeks. Over the course of its time on the air, it was one of my favorite shows for a variety of reasons, including:

  • It's set in the '80s
  • Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are fantastic
  • Stan MF Beeman was way more badass than you realize
  • Even the kids turned out decent
  • Spy stuff is cool
  • Looking back on the US-USSR relationship with thirty years between it all is interesting

If you haven't seen the show, it is about a couple that is raising two kids in the Washington, D.C. area. They are Russian spies, but were raised and trained to be American. They have a handler, but their lives are shrouded in constant secrecy, as spies' lives tend to be when portrayed on TV. Oh, and they live across the street from an FBI agent whose job is to turn Russian spies into American assets.

The first season really reminded me of Alias in that it was all action with a small look at the people behind the action. Alias had one of the best first seasons of television that I've seen. Unlike Alias, however, The Americans evolved really well. As the characters became more developed, the show didn't fall into the trope of relying on relationship drama to drive the narrative. There certainly was relationship drama, but we were looking at the fate of a family we grew to like and worry about in the context that they were in the country illegally and doing really illegal things.

Additionally, the fifth season gave us a look at what 1980s Soviet Russia looked like in small ways. The grocery stores were bare, the governmental corruption was rampant, and life was just bleak. I honestly don't know whether this was an accurate or provincial look at that country at that time, but it certainly seemed to hit on a few small points that drove home just what the Jennings family was faced with. Their lives in the US were comfortable. Some of the same people they affected and worked with here had to return to that, which was a major contradiction.

Without spoiling anything, I have to say that the ending of the show, which was scheduled well in advance (so they could do it right) was just about perfect. Above everything else the show does with the spying and intrigue and political maneuvers, it really makes you understand the humanity of the Jennings family. While you will likely be pushed to think of them as bad actors, others, especially because of what we knew and were taught about the Soviets in the 1980s, the conclusion really flips that on its head. Heck, I think the entire sixth season did the job.

Nevertheless, as the show concluded, I found myself missing it immediately. The final few scenes were pretty incredible and left a few tears in my eyes, as well as Christy's. I think it's safe to say that we really liked the Jennings and we'll be sad to not have their adventures to look forward to throughout the year.

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