I’m not sure if I’ve ever shipped* a married couple so badly ever before.
[*ship; verb: to ship. Slang I picked up from teens on the internet. “A term used to describe fan fictions that take previously created characters and put them as a pair. It usually refers to romantic relationships, but it can refer platonic ones as well. (Just think of “shipping” as short for “relationSHIP”),” -per Urban Dictionary]
Despite how much I love to watch shows, I have a hard time not scrolling through my phone as I watch. Usually this is when I’m relaxing and unwinding, and I want to go through my various feeds and catch up on what I’ve missed.
However, when it comes to The Americans, I am 100% present. I am captivated, paying attention to nothing but the television screen. When we began the series—which I’d never heard of, but my husband picked it randomly on a Sunday evening—I started out on my phone, and promptly put it down within the first 15 minutes. I was hooked.
The Americans is an Amazon-Prime television series that focuses on the lives of two Russian KGB spies, living in America. They are posing as everyday Americans—during the Cold War. The two are married and have kids, who have no idea about their parents’ true identities, and are often faced with life-threatening missions and situations, as well as their own internal battles and complications.
Why I Love This Series
There are many reasons why The Americans measure up as a fantastic show. First and foremost, the plot is fantastic: it’s engaging and fascinating. As an American myself, I’ve only ever been taught about the Cold War from the perspective of the US—damning Russians as evil and extremists. It was refreshing and original to see and experience a different perspective.
Each episode is thrilling in different ways. Sometimes the series is fast-paced and action-packed. Other times, it isn’t. Instead, characterization and the nuances of everyday life creep in, which is just as interesting to observe and sink into.
The acting is superb, and I find myself wrapped into the complexity of the story. By the end of each episode, I too feel like a Russian spy, transported into a different era of history.
The best reason to love The Americans comes down to its characters. They are brilliantly written, and become the show’s grandest investment.
- These characters are everything you could want, in the most basically fulfilling ways. I *love*complex, three-dimensional characters. Give me good and bad, selfish and caring, attentive and distant, atheist and moral, and everything in-between, wrapped into one shell. That’s what humans are: complicated. Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings are just that, and more.
- Additionally, The Americans deliver on imperfect characters that make sense. I found myself thinking, for spies, these characters genuinely seem like good people, more than once. And this was after seeing them murder enemies in cold blood.
- Every character faces both an entire evolution and a few subtle transformations. As I went, my favorite characters changed, slowly. Each character had redeeming qualities at different times, handled stress in various ways, and went through dark periods. And while I always enjoyed the main characters, there were very real moments of disappointment and pride in their actions.
I must also admit: I prefer Netflix over any other streaming platform. However, this Amazon Prime Video experience was really easy and worth our while. I really enjoyed how quickly it automatically rolled into the next episode; it made convincing Chad to stay up another 40 minutes to watch another one a little easier. 😉
Another thing: longevity. After the first episode, I was excited because The Americans had several seasons. That’s one of the best feelings: when you know that you’re able to settle in and get comfortable with a show. As much as I love the series Queer Eye, for example, it’s watched in a different state; I know that I have a very limited time frame to enjoy it, and that awareness is always on the back of my mind. It’s not a huge detraction, but it’s an interesting difference to note.
The Americans is brilliant, and you won’t be sorry when you settle into your couch and accidentally watch five in a row. This show is good, really good. If you find yourself exploring the idea of espionage, you’ll see what I mean.