The five best things about 'The Americans'
January 31st, 2013
10:03 AM ET

The five best things about 'The Americans'

[Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for the series premiere of "The Americans" -- you've been warned.]

Let's get this out of the way from the start: "The Americans," the most anticipated FX series since "American Horror Story," is the real deal.

Wednesday night's episode was the most gripping series premiere of the season (at least since the sadly canceled "Last Resort").

So here are just a few things we liked about it:

1. "The Americans" dares you to sympathize with Soviet spies

Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) are spies who've been living as a married couple under assumed names for nearly 20 years, and are out to sabotage and ultimately take down the U.S.

They're not exactly portrayed as saints, but they are sympathetic to some extent, if only by virtue of the fact that they're the main characters and get the most screen time.

But you also wonder if they'll eventually be discovered, which brings us to the next point.

2. Noah Emmerich is great in everything

From "The Truman Show" to "Super 8" to "The Walking Dead," Emmerich is truly one of our most underrated character actors.

He's terrific as Stan, the FBI agent next door, who has recently been told that the agency is in an all-out war with the KGB.

For a good while, you can't tell if Stan is on to the Jennings or if he's oblivious (again, a testament to Emmerich's performance). It turns out he's somewhat suspicious, even going so far as to check the Jennings' trunk, where a man had been held captive.

Unfortunately for Stan, a gun-wielding Phillip caught him snooping around, but didn't do anything about it when it happened.

3. Keri Russell is a revelation, again

Russell has surprised us in role after role, and I'm already hoping she'll get an Emmy nomination as Elizabeth.

J.J. Abrams based "Alias" on the idea that Russell's "Felicity" could be a spy. We never got to catch a glimpse of Russell in action until "Mission: Impossible III," though (spoiler alert) her character didn't last long.

On this show, Elizabeth is ruthless, at times committing more acts of physical violence than her "husband." It also appears that she's more committed to the KGB than he is, which brings us to the point that ...

4. The stakes are high

At one point, Phillip suggested getting out of the spy game, and living their lives in the U.S. as they had, minus the work for the KGB.

Elizabeth squelches that idea right away. It's clear that the only real way out for these two is imprisonment or death.

5. This show knows how to use its 1980s soundtrack

Period TV shows can be a tricky thing, especially when it comes to music. "The Wonder Years" and "Freaks and Geeks" did a great job with it, and I would argue that "That '70s Show" (as well as the current "Carrie Diaries") used it as a crutch at times.

"The Americans' " opening chase scene had a brilliant soundtrack, and the songs chosen tend to fit with the scene. The most memorable example was "In the Air Tonight," which coincided with the Jennings disposing of that body in the trunk and then getting frisky (and yeah, that was a bit disturbing as well).

Here's hoping they continue to downplay the 1980s-ness of it, and only bring it out where it fits.

So is "The Americans" the next big cable series, as the promos seemed to promise? Only time and ratings will tell, but I'm eager to see future episodes.

What did you think? Share your thoughts on video or post a comment.


soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Crisone

    The best thing about the show (by far) is Matthew Rhys. He is one of the finest actors of all times.

    March 21, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ReifeSandra

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    February 11, 2013 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. das what she get the personal 20

    fro da man...cuz she duz most of his writing...kapeesh!

    February 2, 2013 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. What you see....

    85% of the information i write is mine....it is only polished for final distribution and i don't practice law.

    move along....

    February 2, 2013 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. my friend had been educating for years...

    she has never once called a student/person illerate or have an iq of a hamster–

    February 2, 2013 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. you educate right?

    you should not make fun people's brains

    February 2, 2013 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. sfla

    what a fantastic show..and yes, the music will be critical b/c some of the greatest bands (imho) came out of the 70's and fireworked into the 80's–the opening scene was complete with fletwood mac's tusk. the 80's style is not overdone, just right (although they could have used dittos pants instead of the guess; those came mid 80's...) it's been a loong time since i got hooked on a show. really looking forward to this one

    February 1, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JKrama

    The show has promise. Don't agree entirely with the soundtrack observations as I think it is being used as somewhat of a 'cash-in chip' to get viewer demographics; but hey, it's not a repeat of 'Miami Vice' and the use of a couple songs was good (any show that uses "Eminence Front" by The Who in the right context does have its act together). Cast is great (anyone else recognize Richard Thomas, aka: 'John-Boy'...cool!), scripting will only get tighter, I'm guessing. The next to last scene sets up a lot – didn't need the last scene with him kicking the crap out of the guy; it was more powerful without it because you knew he could take the guy's lunch in the first scene but the painful reserve he had to put on showed how torn his character is between family and duty. Could've saved it for later, perhaps but this is an example of show finding itself. Hope this show does well. It's smart, nail-biting and, above all, not another go****n IQ-of-a-hamster, media-hype reality show.

    February 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Yo

    those bagels are still the best ever!!!!

    February 1, 2013 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sparky

    I had high expectations for The Americans and the premiere really lived up to the hype! I agree that the soundtrack can make or break a period show and the selection they made really captured the tone of the show through their music selection. I missed Wednesday night’s premiere, but caught up with it this morning since it was recorded on my DISH Hopper. I like to catch up with all my shows on my days off from work at DISH and I can do that without needing to delete anything for space because my DVR holds up to 2,000 hours of entertainment.

    February 1, 2013 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. this show

    looks really interesting, has anyone seen it?

    January 31, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jon

    don't lower yourself to a hateful blogger.....just peace it –

    January 31, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rosie comments are a disgrace...

    go look at some of those insults it always seems like its directed to one person-weird...

    January 31, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. good night scabama..lol

    ha.

    January 31, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. what you do is you set HER off so she trips

    and then use it against. her....ITS A FREEKIN BLOG....MOVE ON......

    January 31, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  16. @ peace

    what do you think of your friend mad raper now ? that is him @ 3 10. read all the babble posts, its him. why do you think it says gullable? you stuck up for his dum azs and he trolls you and sadie. he is the dog to. trust me I know.

    January 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Stephanie

    I agree with the Amanda Bynes post. Amanda is great.

    January 31, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Michelle

    They really should have cast Amanda Bynes instead of this Russell woman. I think Ms Kari Russell is just another Lindsay Lohan wannabee.

    January 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Winner: "Most Inane Comment of the Day" award goes to Michelle.

      Amanda Bynes! With all of her reported shenanigans (how many car crashes in a week?), she far more likely to follow in Lohan's steps.

      January 31, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  19. J

    1. off this asap
    2. apologies...

    January 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Greg

    This show drew me in on several levels. The most intriguing element was the concept of rearing kids in that situation. What an amazing, emotional rollercoaster those characters are riding. Excellent on so many levels. It's clear that Phillip is more dedicated to Elizabeth than he is to the KGB.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Fan

    Enjoyed the show. I look forward to the rest of the season. Great characters: you don't know if you should be for or against them which is great. And the soundtrack. Took me waaayy back.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  22. newfavoriteshow

    Loved it! I hope the rest of the season is just as good if not better than it was last night!

    January 31, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Paula

    LOVED IT...but I love Homeland too...and this is one of those shows that could be up there as far as quality writing/acting...plus have always loved Matthew Rhys....and happy to see him back in a tv series....hope it lasts and continues to be as great as it was last night...plus the music was fun....haven't heard TUSK in ages!

    January 31, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samuel

      It was ok but I didn't care for the girl playing the KGB agent. She seems to have no acting ability whatsoever. Kari something. I wish they would have hired Amanda Bynes for the part.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  24. How do you get a chocolate sundae to come crawling

    feed it...

    January 31, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Cori

    Is Keri Russell that girl on the Top Gun movie? I didn't like her that much. She looks ok in this picture though. Kinda Hispanic.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paula

      she is NOT Hispanic nor was in Top Gun.....was brilliant in Waitress however....

      January 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Top Gun came out about 30 years ago, Keri Russell was probably 2 when that movie came out. Where do you braindead commenters come from?

      January 31, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • maria

      What is with the Hispanic think? you don't like Hispanics? are you a biass?

      January 31, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • maria

      What is with the Hispanic think? you don't like Hispanics? are you a biass? Not I didn't wrote the same thing ,why I am receiving the answer that it hd been detected ?

      January 31, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Tim

    Me and wife watched this last night. It really is good. You will enjoy it.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  27. Bob

    That girl in the pic looks cute in sweaters.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  28. Pete

    Greetings fellow bloggers. I am new to this site so wanted to say hello. This looks like an exciting and thought provoking place to catch up on the entertainment world.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Oh, boy, Pete: "thought provoking"? Here? Have you read any of these comments? You couldn't be more wrong.

      January 31, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • have your read the rosie comments

      the pits–talk about thought provoking...

      January 31, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Info

    I know important info that inquiring minds want to know. I got twitter so can look stuff up. Inquiring stuff about celebs and movie stars. I'll keep all of you updated on the happenings.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  30. HACKING BEETCH

    YOU SUCH A GULLIBLE PUTZ.

    January 31, 2013 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  31. YOUR A DISGRACEFUL PERSON AND WE NEED TOO RUN YOU OFF THE BLOGS.

    WE are sick of your nonsense

    you national enquirer behavior is over with...your a disgrace too the blog...we don't care about your information and or threats RETIRE AND LEAVE THE PUBLIC ALONE....

    January 31, 2013 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  32. Info

    Scooby D oo ! I DVR'ed it last night. Forgot it was coming on but had it set up to record. It looks like this show and the one called "The Cult" might be deacent. Wish they weren't on network TV though. Rarely anything good on the regular channels.

    January 31, 2013 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  33. Peace

    This sounds good. Sadie, Save the recording! I wonder if they'll show it again before next weeks epi?

    January 31, 2013 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Sadie

      For those of you who missed the first episode, they are replaying it on 2/5.

      January 31, 2013 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |

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