The Americans (2013 TV series)

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The Americans
The-americans-title-card.png
Genre Period drama
Spy fiction
Format Serial drama
Created by Joe Weisberg
Starring
Opening theme "The Americans Theme" by Dominik Hauser
Composer(s) Nathan Barr
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Russian
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 26 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Location(s) New York
Running time 42–50 minutes
69 minutes (pilot)
Production company(s) Nemo Films
Amblin Television
Fox Television Studios
FX Productions
Broadcast
Original channel FX
Audio format DTS-HD Master Audio
Dolby Digital 5.1
Original run January 30, 2013 (2013-01-30) – present
External links
Website

The Americans is an American television period drama series created and produced by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg.[1] The series premiered in the United States on January 30, 2013 on the cable network FX and completed its second season on May 21, 2014.

Set during the Cold War period in the 1980s, The Americans is the story of Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. with their unsuspecting children (Holly Taylor and Keidrich Sellati) and their neighbor, Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), an FBI counterintelligence agent.[2]

The series focuses on the personal and professional lives of the Jenningses, sometimes incorporating real-life events into the narrative. The show's creator has described the series as being ultimately about a marriage.[3]

On April 16, 2014, FX renewed the series for a third season consisting of 13 episodes.[4]

Cast and characters[edit]

Most of the Russian names do not include surnames. In scenes taking place inside the Soviet Embassy, the characters address each other in a familiar but respectful manner, using given name and patronymic, without mentioning surnames. "Ivanovich" means "son of Ivan" and "Sergeevna" indicates "daughter of Sergei".

Main cast[edit]

  • Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings (Nadezhda), a KGB agent
  • Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings (Mischa), a KGB agent
  • Noah Emmerich as Stan Beeman, an FBI agent
  • Maximiliano Hernández as Chris Amador (season 1), Stan's FBI partner
  • Holly Taylor as Paige Jennings, Elizabeth and Philip's daughter
  • Keidrich Sellati as Henry Jennings, Elizabeth and Philip's son
  • Annet Mahendru as Nina Sergeevna (recurring season 1, starring season 2), Agent Beeman's Soviet mole/triple agent
  • Susan Misner as Sandra Beeman (recurring season 1, starring season 2), Stan's wife
  • Alison Wright as Martha Hanson (recurring season 1, starring season 2), Agent Gaad's secretary and Philip's informant

Supporting cast[edit]

  • Richard Thomas as Agent Frank Gaad, an FBI supervisor
  • Margo Martindale as Claudia, the Jennings' KGB supervisor
  • Daniel Flaherty as Matthew Beeman, Stan's son
  • Lev Gorn as Arkady Ivanovich, the KGB's Resident
  • Peter Von Berg as Vasili Nikolaievich, a KGB's Resident
  • Derek Luke as Gregory, a former civil rights activist—now a KGB asset—who has a past romantic link with Elizabeth Jennings.
  • Costa Ronin as Oleg Igorevich Burov (Season 2), the Embassy's new Science and Technology officer, actually a privileged son of a Party member who got the appointment through his father so he could enjoy the comforts of the United States.

Production[edit]

Conception[edit]

The Americans was created by Joe Weisberg, a former CIA officer.[1] Despite its spy setting, Weisberg aimed to tell the story of a marriage.[5] "The Americans is at its core a marriage story. International relations is just an allegory for the human relations. Sometimes, when you're struggling in your marriage or with your kid, it feels like life or death. For Philip and Elizabeth, it often is."[6] Executive producer Joel Fields described the series as working different levels of reality: the fictional world of the marriage between Philip and Elizabeth, and the real world involving the characters' experiences during the Cold War.[6]

"The most interesting thing I observed during my time at the CIA was the family life of agents who served abroad with kids and spouses. The reality is that mostly they're just people going about their lives. The job is one element, and trying to depict the issues they face just seemed like something that, if we could bring it to television in a realistic way, would be new."

Joe Weisberg, creator and showrunner of The Americans[3]

Working at the CIA, which Weisberg later described as a mistake, has helped him develop several storylines in the series,[7] basing some plot lines on real-life stories,[7] and integrating several things he learned in his training, such as dead drops and communication protocols.[8] Weisberg was fascinated by stories he had heard from agents who served abroad as spies, while raising their families.[8] He was interested in bringing that concept to television, with the idea of a family of spies, rather than just one person.[8] Weisberg also told how the CIA inadvertently gave him the idea for creating a series around spies, explaining, "While I was taking the polygraph exam to get in, they asked the question, 'Are you joining the CIA in order to gain experience about the intelligence community so that you can write about it later'—which had never occurred to me. I was totally joining the CIA because I wanted to be a spy. But the second they asked that question ... then I thought, 'Now I'm going to fail the test.'"[9]

Weisberg was partially influenced by the events of the Illegals Program to write a pilot script for the series. His research material included notes on the KGB's Cold War left by Vasili Mitrokhin and conversations with some of his former colleagues at the CIA.[5] He stated that, unlike the circumstances involving the 2010 Russian spy ring, he had opted to set the story in the early 1980s because "a modern day [setting] didn't seem like a good idea", adding, "People were both shocked and simultaneously shrugged at the [2010] scandal because it didn't seem like we were really enemies with Russia anymore. An obvious way to remedy that for television was to stick it back in the Cold War. At first, the '70s appealed to me just because I loved the hair and the music. But can you think of a better time than the '80s with Ronald Reagan yelling about the evil empire?"[5]

After reading Weisberg's novel, An Ordinary Spy, executive producer Graham Yost discovered that Weisberg had also written a pilot for a possible spy series. Yost read the pilot and discovered that it was "annoyingly good", which led to the beginning of motions to develop the show.[10]

Casting[edit]

Weisberg stated that he had no idea about who would star in the series before casting began.[11] FX president John Landgraf had the idea to cast Keri Russell in the series.[11] Leslie Feldman, the head of casting at DreamWorks, saw Matthew Rhys in a play and suggested him to Weisberg.[11] Russell and Rhys had met briefly at a party years before, but were not fully introduced.[12] They both were attracted to the series because of its focus on the relationship between their characters. Said Rhys, "You have two people who have led the most incredibly strange life together with incredibly high stakes, in this scene of domesticity that is an absolute lie, and at the end of the pilot they’re finding each other for the very first time."[12]

Russell described the pilot script as "interesting", continuing, "It was so far from a procedural. And [originally,] I didn't know that I wanted to do it. I always say no to everything. I never want to do anything. [Laughs.] But I just couldn't stop thinking about it. I read it ... and I kept trying to figure it out, because it's so not clear. It's still not clear to me. But there's so many different levels to it."[13] Rhys said of his character, "He's a sort of gift of a part in that he's very sort of layered and multi-faceted. And when you meet him, he's at this great turning point in his life where everything's changing for him. You just get to do everything. You get to do the kung fu, and you get to do the emotional scenes, you get to do the disguises. It's the full package for an actor. It's a dream."[13] Noah Emmerich was initially hesitant about taking a role in the series. He explained: "The truth is, from the very beginning, I thought, 'I don't want to do a TV show where I carry a gun or a badge. I'm done with guns and badges. I just don't want to do that anymore.' When I first read it I thought, 'Yeah, it's really interesting and really good, but I don't want to be an FBI guy.'"[14] His friend, Gavin O'Connor, who directed the pilot episode, convinced him to take a closer look at the role.[14] Emmerich stated that he responded to the aspect of marriage and family. "It was really interesting, and it was really intelligent and unusual, and it stood out from the pack."[14]

Susan Misner, Annet Mahendru, and Alison Wright, who play Sandra Beeman, Nina, and Martha Hanson, respectively, were promoted to series regulars beginning with season two.[15][16]

Filming and locations[edit]

The series films in New York City[17] at Eastern Effects Studios in Brooklyn.[18] Other shooting locations include: Mamaroneck,[19] Coney Island Avenue,[20] Kew Gardens,[21] and Farmingdale.[22] Shooting of the pilot episode began in May 2012 and lasted until mid-June.[23] Filming began for the rest of the first season in November 2012 in the New York City area. The production used location shots to simulate a dramatic setting of Washington, D.C. Early filming was delayed by flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy.[18] Filming for the second season commenced in October 2013.[7]

Series overview[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired DVD and Blu-ray release dates
Season premiere Season finale Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 13 January 30, 2013 (2013-01-30) May 1, 2013 (2013-05-01) February 11, 2014 (2014-02-11)[24] March 3, 2014 (2014-03-03)[25] February 5, 2014 (2014-02-05)[26]
2 13 February 26, 2014 (2014-02-26) May 21, 2014 (2014-05-21) TBA TBA TBA

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Season 1[edit]

The first season of The Americans received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it received a 90% approval rating from critics, with a rating average of 7.8 out of 10.[27] On Metacritic, it scored 77 out of 100 based on 35 reviews.[28] The American Film Institute listed it as one of the top ten television series of 2013.[29] Rob Brunner of Entertainment Weekly described it as "an absorbing spy thriller"[30] while David Hinkley of the New York Daily News praised the pace, noting that "It's a premise that requires as much clever dramatic footwork as you might expect, and creator Joe Weisberg, a former CIA agent, handles the challenge".[31] Verne Gay of Newsday called it a "smart newcomer with a pair of leads that turns The Americans into a likely winner" and gave it a grade of an "A-".[32] Gail Pennington, television critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gave The Americans a rating of three out of four stars. In her review of the debut episode, Pennington stated "The Americans isn't just a heart-pounding action drama; by presenting heroes that are also villains, it also confronts viewers with TV's deepest moral dilemma since The Sopranos".[33]

Season 2[edit]

The second season received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, it received a 97% approval rating from critics, with a rating average of 9.2 out of 10.[34] On Metacritic, it scored 88 out of 100 based on 31 reviews.[35] Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter called the series "one of television’s finest dramas" and praised the ability of the writers to "nailing down season two of The Americans right from the start, by picking up where the story left off and making sure that this spy-vs.-spy thing has real-life costs."[36] Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette praised the series for doing "the near-impossible of making viewers cheer for Russian spies in America and at the same time for the American FBI agents who are trying to unmask those Russians living in suburbia."[37] Alan Sepinwall of HitFix praised the second season, stating "It's taken a major creative leap—the kind that can elevate a show from a strong example of its era to one that transcends eras," adding "I felt my pulse quickening in that way I want to feel so often in my job but so rarely do: when something good becomes something great."[38]

Awards and nominations[edit]

International broadcasts[edit]

The Americans airs internationally in Australia on Network Ten,[39][40] Canada on FX Canada,[41] France on Canal+ Séries,[42] Ireland on RTÉ Two,[43] Sweden on TV8,[44] United Kingdom on ITV,[45][46] Belgium on Canvas,[47] Finland on MTV3,[48] Portugal on Fox Portugal,[49] Spain on Fox España,[50] Switzerland on RTS Un,[51] Germany on Sat.1[52] and Estonia on TV3.[53]

DVD and Blu-ray releases[edit]

Season Release dates Episodes Special features Discs
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 February 11, 2014[24] March 24, 2014[25] February 5, 2014[26] 13
  • "The Colonel" commentary featuring Joe Weisberg, Joel Fields and Noah Emmerich
  • Featurettes
    • "Executive Order 2579: Exposing the Americans"
    • "Perfecting the Art of Espionage"
    • "Ingenuity Over Technology"
  • Gag reel
  • Deleted scenes
  • Trailers[24]
4 (DVD)
3 (Blu-ray)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Holson, Laura M. (March 29, 2013). "The Dark Stuff, Distilled". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ Harnick, Chris (August 9, 2012). "'The Americans': FX Orders Cold War Spy Series Starring Keri Russell". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Arnold-Ratliff, Katie (March 12, 2013). "Spy vs. Spy: A Q&A with The Americans Creator Joe Weisberg". Time. Retrieved October 6, 2013. 
  4. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (April 16, 2014). "FX renews 'The Americans' for season 3". HitFix. Retrieved April 16, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Waxman, Olivia B. (January 30, 2013). "The real CIA behind 'The Americans'". Time. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Thomas, June (January 31, 2013). "A Conversation With The Americans Showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields". Slate. Retrieved October 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Leeds, Sarene (October 5, 2013). "'The Americans' Invade New York's Paley Center". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 6, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "DIRECTV Interview: The Americans Masterminds Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields". DirecTV. April 24, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ Bernstein, Paula (October 7, 2013). "'The Americans' Changes Focus in Season Two and Other Intel from PaleyFest". Indiewire. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  10. ^ Brioux, Bill (January 30, 2013). "The Americans debuts on FX Canada Jan. 30". The Canadian Press. Retrieved January 31, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Radish, Christina. "Creators Joseph Weisberg and Joel Fields Talk THE AMERICANS Season Finale, Crafting the Cliffhanger, Season 2, and More". Collider. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Egner, Jeremy (January 24, 2013). "The Spy Who Married Me: Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys on ‘The Americans’". The New York Times. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Prudom, Laura (January 30, 2013). "'The Americans' Premiere: Keri Russell And Matthew Rhys Talk Sex, Spy Games And America Vs. Russia". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c Potts, Kimberly (March 11, 2013). "Yahoo! TV Q&A: 'The Americans' Star Noah Emmerich on His Character, His Twitter, and His Celebrity BFF". Yahoo. Retrieved April 5, 2013. 
  15. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (March 8, 2013). "Americans Ups Susan Misner to Series Regular". TVLine. Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  16. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (May 7, 2013). "FX's The Americans Promotes Two for Season 2". TVLine. Retrieved May 7, 2013. 
  17. ^ ""The Americans" Filming On The UWS Today". The Upper West Side blog. December 3, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "FX's 'The Americans' Studio Flooded by Hurricane Sandy; Shooting Delayed (Exclusive)". TheWrap TV. November 7, 2012. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  19. ^ "FX television pilot ‘The Americans’ filming in Mamaroneck". Sound Shore. June 18, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  20. ^ "The Americans, FX Television Show, Filming On Coney Island Avenue". Sheepshead Bites. October 11, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  21. ^ Swanson, Carl (February 25, 2013). "How The Americans Blew Up a House". Vulture. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  22. ^ "FX television show 'The Americans' takes over Adventureland in Farmingdale". Newsday. October 15, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  23. ^ "FX pilot ‘The Americans’ begins filming in NYC this week". On Location Vacations. May 20, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  24. ^ a b c Lambert, David (December 4, 2013). "The Americans - Finalized Street Date, Extras, Packaging for 'The Complete 1st Season'". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b "The Americans - Season 1 [DVD]". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  26. ^ a b "Americans, The: Season 1". EzyDVD. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  27. ^ "The Americans: Season 1 (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  28. ^ "The Americans: Season 1". Metacritic. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  29. ^ Gray, Tim (December 9, 2013). "AFI Names Best Movies and TV Shows of 2013". Variety. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  30. ^ Brunner, Rob (January 25, 2013). Entertainment Weekly: 113. 
  31. ^ Hinkley, David (January 30, 2013). "TV review: ‘The Americans’". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  32. ^ Gay, Verne (January 28, 2013). "'The Americans' review: Spy drama another FX winner". Newsday. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  33. ^ Pennington, Gail (January 30, 2013). "TV Review: FX's The Americans makes Cold War hot". The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  34. ^ "The Americans: Season 2 (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  35. ^ "The Americans : Season 2". Metacritic. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  36. ^ Goodman, Tim (February 26, 2014). "The Americans: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  37. ^ Owen, Rob (February 20, 2014). "Tuned In: New series, episodes on track after Olympics". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  38. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (February 25, 2014). "Review: FX's 'The Americans' takes a big leap forward in season 2". HitFix. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  39. ^ "About the Show". Network Ten. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  40. ^ ""Smart, different, authentic" underpins TEN in 2013". TV Tonight. October 23, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  41. ^ Brioux, Bill (January 30, 2013). "The Americans debuts on FX Canada Jan. 30". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  42. ^ "The Americans" (in French). January 28, 2014. 
  43. ^ "RTÉ TEN TV Picks of the Day". RTÉ Ten. May 30, 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  44. ^ "Kärlek och dubbelspel i hyllade The Americans" (in Swedish). TV8. August 21, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  45. ^ "ITV acquires drama The Americans from Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution". ITV. January 28, 2013. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  46. ^ "The Americans". ITV. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  47. ^ "The Americans – Canvas". Canvas. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  48. ^ "Americans". MTV3. February 9, 2014. 
  49. ^ "Estreia The Americans". Fox. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  50. ^ "Portada – The Americans". Fox. Retrieved November 21, 2013. 
  51. ^ "The Americans" (in French). RTS. March 10, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2014. 
  52. ^ "The Americans" (in German). SAT.1. May 8, 2014. Retrieved May 2, 2014. 
  53. ^ "Ameeriklased" (in Estonian). TV3. April 25, 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 

External links[edit]