3. The Americans, FX
This was the best run of episodes yet for the show that is making the best argument for dramas going more than a single season. Miniseries’ pleasures are legion, yes, but only on a show with the rich, textured history of The Americans could the fights cut quite so deep. This year, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys’s married Soviet spies faced a series of existential threats: Various pieces of human collateral needed to be dealt with, but the family couldn’t dispose of indiscreet daughter Paige (Holly Taylor). But even after they seemed in the clear, both partners faced down grave doubts about their chosen lines of work that they channeled differently, with Rhys’s Philip getting into New Age philosophy and Russell’s Elizabeth just getting angry. One way or another, the family’s life will radically change—the Cold War is drawing to a close. But the show’s daring contemplation of what it means for a married couple to grow distant, and the pain of that uncoupling, gives rise to one of the year’s richest viewing experiences. Catch up before season five, and start from the beginning.