The first episode of the 2nd season came out last week and it was glorious. The first season of The Americans was great but now, they’re on a whole new level. And that’s just one of the reasons why the show is so cool. The first season was critically acclaimed and opened to a pilot that was seen by 5.1 million viewers (including people who recorded the show with DVR). However, the Emmys snubbed the show and only got 2 nominations. Well, it’s a whole a new story for the 2nd season. It’s as if the The Americans took the snubbing and used it to fire their fuel even more.
The Americans is also cool because they make fun of the small things about the show. In the 2nd season premiere, Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) got his wig ripped off from a brawl. The scene was so intense but I was laughing. The show is infamous for its costumes and wigs and the ripping of the wig sends a message to fans that says “Yeah, we know, the wigs are borderline dumb, but it is what it is.”
The wigs and costumes are integral because that’s how spies keep their real identities. The show is exaggerated for entertainment, I know, but it still deeply rooted in reality. Joe Weisberg, show runner and creator of the show was a former CIA officer. There are dead drops, counter surveillance, and even honey traps. The show was based from the 2010 spy ring. There are no fancy gadgets and cars that turn into submarines, just old classic spy things. If a show like this can be based from what really happened back in the cold war, then the audience can be fully immersed into a program that will elicit true tension.
For example last season’s finale. Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) was about to walk into a trap, but without cellphones, she couldn’t be warned. Today, the NSA could turn on your laptop’s webcam and microphone and can observe you with whatever you’re doing. In the cold war, someone has to drop a real microphone to a government official’s office and plant the recorder nearby.
Another thing that’s great about the show is that they portray Russian spies as real persons too. Yes, they have kids to have a better cover, but it doesn’t mean they love their kids any less. The 2nd season’s premiere titled Comrades highlighted the Jennings’s relationship with another spy couple. They talked about their kids and what they are up to these days, talked about their marriages and all of the things that’s has been happening in their lives while having a beer like what normal friends will do. After 20 minutes of that very scene, you see the other spy couple dead, and not only that they’re kids are dead too.
Without the realization that spies also value marriage and family, the whole thing will have a milder effect. But since we knew from the start (at least for die-hard fans) that these things do really happen then the shock also becomes real, there is real emotion when you’re watching the show.
If you still don’t believe me, go watch the show. The DVD and Blu-ray for season 1 is already out. Watch FX The Americans every Wednesday, 10 PM on FX.