Overview

The Americans is a TV series created by Joe Weisberg for the FX network. It’s a period spy thriller which is set during the Cold War. The storyline focuses on two Soviet KGB officers called Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, who are posing as an American married couple. They live in Falls Church, which is a Virginia suburb of Washington DC, with their two children Henry and Paige.

The show made its debut in the US in 2013 and ended in 2018, lasting six seasons in total. The final season resulted in a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. It also won Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama.

Premise

The pilot episode introduces Philip and Elizabeth Jennings as an undercover team of Russian intelligence agents who are based in the US. Nobody knows their real identities; even their own children.

Missions and storylines explored in the series include the Jennings infiltrating and bugging the office of US Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, infiltrating the FBI’s new communications encryption system and a mission to discredit a Polish pro-democracy leader.

Cast and characters

  • KGB officer Elizabeth Jennings – Keri Russell
  • KGB officer Philip Jennings – Matthew Rhys
  • Stan’s FBI partner Chris Amador – Maximiliano Hernandez
  • Daughter Paige Jennings – Holly Taylor
  • Son Henry Jennings – Keidrich Sellati
  • FBI counterintelligence agent Stan Beeman – Noah Emmerich
  • KGB agent Nina Sergeevna Krilova – Annet Mahendru
  • Stan’s wife Sandra Beeman – Susan Misner
  • Agent Gaad’s secretary Martha Hanson – Alison Wright
  • KGB’s Rezident at the Soviet embassy Arkady Ivanovich Zotov – Lev Gorn
  • Soviet embassy’s Science and Technology officer Oleg Igorevich Burov – Costa Ronin
  • FBI Special Agent Frank Gaad – Richard Thomas
  • Russian agent and biochemical warfare scientist William Crandall – Dylan Baker
  • FBI agent Dennis Aderholt – Brandon J Dirden
  • KGB handler Claudia – Margo Martindale
  • Stan and Sandra’s son Matthew Beeman – Daniel Flaherty
  • Former KGB Rezident Vasili Nikolaevich – Peter Von Berg
  • Elizabeth’s longtime lover Gregory Thomas – Derek Luke
  • KGB handler Kate – Wrenn Schmidt
  • United States Navy SEAL Andrew Larrick – Lee Tergesen
  • Russian-Jewish scientist Anton Baklanov – Michael Aronov
  • Pastor Tim – Kelly AuCoin
  • KGB handler Gabriel – Frank Langella
  • Operational team member Hans – Peter Mark Kendall
  • Kimberly ‘Kimmy’ Breland – Julia Garner
  • Northrop employee Lisa – Karen Pittman
  • Stan’s girlfriend Renee – Laurie Holden
  • State Department negotiating team member Green Haskard – Scott Cohen
  • Ailing wife Erica Haskard – Miriam Shor

Filming locations

The Americans was primarily filmed in New York City. Some scenes were filmed at Eastern Effects Studios in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Outside shots were taken in various Brooklyn street locations, such as Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens.

There were also outside scenes filmed in Staten Island, Kew Gardens, Morningside Heights, Farmingdale, Coney Island Avenue, Mamaroneck, Washington Heights, Prospect Park and Astoria.

Trailer

The trailer for The Americans on YouTube has over 1.9 million views. It opens with a woman saying ‘Stop’ to a man kissing her from behind, then suddenly turning around with a knife. The man says ‘You’re my wife,’ to which she replies ‘Is that right?’

A male voice is then heard saying ‘Super secret spies live next door. They speak better English than we do. They’re not allowed to say a single word in Russian once they get here.’ The family is seen with moving boxes in a house, and then the scene jumps to a man tied up and gagged with a man saying ‘If you make any noise, I will kill you.’

Production

The concept of this series was outlined by the creator Joe Weisberg, who is a former CIA officer. After leaving the CIA, Weisberg published a novel called An Ordinary Spy, which focuses on a spy who is completing his training in Virginia before being transferred overseas. Executive producer Graham Yost found out that Weisberg had also written a pilot for a spy series after reading the book.

After reading the pilot, Yost described it as ‘annoyingly good’ and the show commenced development. Weisberg received partial influence from the Illegals Program to write the pilot, and he researched the notes from the KGB’s Cold War left by Vasili Mitrokhin.

Episodes and reception

Season 1 of the series received an 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 51 reviews gave it an average score of 7.86 out of 10. Season 2 received a 97% approval rating on the site, and 38 reviews gave it an average of 8.83 out of 10. Season 3 received 100% approval, with an average 9.03 out of 10 approval.

When season 4 aired, it got 99% with an average of 9.22. Season 5 got 94% and a 9.03 average. Finally, season 6 got 99% with an average of 9.26. The first five seasons have 13 episodes, and the final one has 10.

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