The Americans writers’ room debates Russia’s new relevancy: ‘It’s an unwelcome surprise’

As the fifth season of The Americans gets underway, EW pulls back the (iron) curtain on the FX series’ writers’ room. To read the complete roundtable on The Americans, along with clues to season 5 and a list of pop culture essentials covering U.S.-Russian relations, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy it here now and subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only on EW.

Between American politicians lying about their contacts with Russian envoys, overseas enemies tampering with the U.S. presidential election, and disturbing rumors about “golden showers,” it’s as if the entire country has time-traveled back to the early 1980s. While the Trump administration’s relationship to the Kremlin may not exactly resemble Reagan’s, recent headlines undeniably echo the frosty past.

But for FX’s The Americans, this déjà vu is uncharted territory. Airing its 1984-set fifth season amid real-life stories about Russia’s hand in U.S. politics, the critically acclaimed drama about married Soviet spies living in suburban America has found itself no longer just a thoughtful examination of a bygone era but also a bizarre reflection of the world today.

In February, EW stepped inside the series’ writers’ offices in Brooklyn, New York, where vibrant key art from past seasons, Cold War propaganda posters used on the show, and several (sadly erased) whiteboards cover the walls. Showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields gathered their writers’ room comrades Peter Ackerman, Joshua Brand, Stephen Schiff, and Tracey Scott Wilson for a roundtable interview to delve deep into how they’ve tackled the series’ sudden relevance — and why The Americans‘ themes have always resonated. Continue reading The Americans writers’ room debates Russia’s new relevancy: ‘It’s an unwelcome surprise’

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Keri Russell Opens Up About Parenting With Matthew Rhys: He Only Speaks Welsh to Our ‘Giant’ Son!

Elizabeth and Philip’s home life! Keri Russell opened up about parenting with her longtime love and Americans costar, Matthew Rhys, during an appearance on Live With Kelly on Wednesday, March 8. Watch the video above!

Russell, 40, and the Welsh actor, 42, began dating in 2013 and officially stepped out as a couple at NYC’s Public Theater in April 2014. Us Weekly broke the news in May 2016 that they welcomed their son Sam, now 9 months old.

“He’s a giant,” Russell told Kelly Ripa and guest cohost Christian Slater. “[Matthew] only speaks Welsh to the baby and could be saying anything… I can count, I can do numbers [in Welsh]. Willa, the 5-year-old, speaks the best. When you are little, that is when you should learn, but I know nothing. I blame my parents, I only speak one language.”

The Felicity star also shares son River, 9, and daughter Willa with her ex-husband, Shane Deary. The pair split in December 2013 after nearly seven years of marriage.

Russell and Rhys, who recently guest-starred on a talked-about episode of Girls, reside in Brooklyn, NYC. The couple don’t have any pets (they used to have a cat), but River “has a whole plot” to take in a rodent.

In between rat talk, Russell and Rhys have been working on their wildly acclaimed spy drama. The Americans was renewed for a final two seasons last May. “We have no idea how it ends. I’m surprised every time, even this season I was reading episode 10, 11, 12… They have their own thing going,” Russell said. “I have no idea.” A 13-episode fifth season will air on FX this year and the final 10 episodes will air in 2018.

Source: http://www.usmagazine.com/

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‘The Americans’ premiere recap: ‘Amber Waves’

The Americans begins its fifth season with a pair of new faces: Pasha, a Soviet boy who resents his new life in the United States, and Tuan, a Vietnamese adoptee who is eager to help his new classmate adjust.

They’re both newcomers. Tuan and his family just moved from Michigan, while Pasha and his family have defected from Moscow. He is struggling, not the least of which with the language.

“Okay, understand,” Pasha says. “Speak, not so good.”

The boys take a trip to Tuan’s house, where they meet his parents – an airline pilot and a flight attendant, Mr. and Mrs. Eckert. Finally, we see someone we recognize – Philip and Elizabeth.

At the end of last season, they faced the possibility of giving up their lives as the Jennings family and fleeing back to Russia, since they were unsure if their identities had been compromised by the capture of the bio-weapons operative William.

Now, we see that they have doubled down on the American dream. They have a new mission – and a new family. Pasha doesn’t have much to say to them. That’s okay. He will. Continue reading ‘The Americans’ premiere recap: ‘Amber Waves’

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‘The Americans’ Showrunners Talk Season 5, End Game and U.S.-Russian Relations

“Mostly it’s a bummer for the world. However, close second is that it’s a bummer for the show,” says creator Joe Weisberg of recent headlines about Russia’s relationship with the U.S.
The Americans returns with a new season on Tuesday. But unlike its previous four seasons, this time it’ll air with Russia-U.S. relations in the news headlines.

“Mostly it’s a bummer for the world. However, close second is that it’s a bummer for the show,” says creator Joe Weisberg of Russia’s reported involvement in current U.S. politics. “The environment was just right when we started the show, which was that there was no Soviet Union anymore and nobody was mad at Russia. So it’s much easier to stop de-humanizing them.”

Co-showrunner Joel Fields, however, takes a different approach to the matter. “Frankly, what better time to do a show about humanizing the enemy than a time when we’ve got an enemy,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

THR caught up with the pair behind the FX spy drama starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys just as Weisberg and Fields are juggling the current season with the sixth and finale one. Below, they discuss their end game, how they feel about current political events and what’s next for them after The Americans (hint: they’ll keep working together.) Continue reading ‘The Americans’ Showrunners Talk Season 5, End Game and U.S.-Russian Relations

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‘The Americans’: Stars, Producers Talk Beginning of the End With Season 5

Starting tonight, “The Americans” joins the short list of shows that have had the luxury of plotting out their series finale storylines over multiple seasons.

The FX drama, which received a two-season pickup last year, opens its fifth year with intrepid Soviet spies Philip and Elizabeth Jennings juggling yet another set of identities — this time with a set up that is elaborate even by their standards.

The planning of the season’s plot engines was made easier by the fact that showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields now have the season-six finish line in sight. The momentum the show built up in season four — with its first Emmy nom for drama series and Writers Guild Award win for drama series — didn’t hurt, either.
Continue reading ‘The Americans’: Stars, Producers Talk Beginning of the End With Season 5

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‘The Americans’ Season 5: TV Review

The best drama on television continues to ratchet up the tension while pushing purposefully toward the end (and no spoilers here).
One of the great difficulties writing about long-running series with complicated and hard-earned twists and turns is that you can’t go anywhere near them. Nobody likes a spoiler — and far too many people these days think even the smallest detail revealed is a spoiler. The longer a series is on the air — especially one, like FX’s The Americans, that is arguably the best drama on television — the harder it is for a critic to say anything new of substance about it.

And yet, there’s an obligation to write about the best drama on television, because, well, people will want to read it.

You see where we are here.

There won’t be anything that’s an actual spoiler revealed in this review. That would normally only leave the door open to something along the lines of, “Wow, the start of the fifth season is really great — nothing I can tell you about, but, wow, some amazing things happen.” Continue reading ‘The Americans’ Season 5: TV Review

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Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell on “The Americans” (Video)

Last year Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell earned Golden Globe nominations as the titular Soviet spies in deep suburban cover in Reagan-era America. The series created by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg has earned wide critical praise as one of the best in TV and its fifth season coincides with renewed interest in the real-life relationship between Russia and the US. Call it serendipity; fact is that the blend of mundane family life and credible international geopolitical skullduggery reverberates more than ever on multiple levels today. Here’s what Russell and Rhys (also a real-life couple and now proud parents of a son) recently told us about the evolution of their characters during the arch of the series.

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The Americans Is Better Than Ever as the End Nears

One of best moments on The Americans last season came in the opening minutes of “The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears,” when Martha (Alison Wright) is being taken to her drop-off point to be sent to the Soviet Union. It’s a stunning, hypnotic scene that is completely wordless until she tells her husband, “Don’t be alone, Clark.”

It sounds — and probably should be — interminably boring, but it’s precisely the type of thing at which The Americans excels. No show produces taut, compelling tension through omission better than the FX drama. And it’s a skill the series deploys — more confidently than ever — in its fifth and penultimate season.

The final act of the Season 5 premiere has Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) just digging a massive hole. The second episode features Elizabeth standing solo in a lab surrounded by insects, and the third episode released to press features a beautiful scene of the pair in their latest cowboy disguises. I won’t say any more — it’s truly one of the most moving sequences the show has ever done.

That naked human intimacy is a testament to showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg’s commitment to crafting this acutely complex portrait of marriage — to each other, to family, to country. Perhaps armed with the knowledge that next year is the show’s last, the stakes in Season 5 feel even higher even as its trademark slow burns decelerate to a purposeful crawl, and the personal and the professional lines blur further. Continue reading The Americans Is Better Than Ever as the End Nears

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‘The Americans’ Season 5 Review: Drama Leaves It All Out On Cold War Battlefield

With rumors of Russian involvement in American politics dominating the news again today, the excellent penultimate season of The Americans feels chillingly much closer to the bone than last year. Debuting on March 7, Season 5 of FX’s Reagan-era spy family drama starring the stronger-than-ever Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys has more tricks and schemes up its narrative sleeves than a Cold War intelligence case officer, which as I say in my video review above is why one of the best shows of the age of Peak TV is feeling more passionate and compellingly convoluted than ever.

Set to end after six seasons, the 13-episode fifth season of The Americans, from what I’ve watched, is simply not prepared to go gentle into that good night without showing how much fight it still has. Amidst the perils of teenage dating, agricultural warfare, new families and faces, and corruption on the shelves and among Moscow’s Soviet elite, one blow of many that The Americans brings in this increasingly darker cycle is a new poignancy.

For those of us who grew up when the Soviet Union existed, the tale of Russell and Rhys’ ruthless but conflicted KGB agents posing as travel agency-owning D.C.suburbanites has always had a masterful touch, playing into the paranoia of the ever-simmering superpower conflict (real and imagined). While written and filmed months in advance, this season of the series executive produced by Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields has found new lifeblood as the real-life relationship between former Cold War adversaries the U.S. and the Russian Federation as ruled by Vladimir Putin, bringing spy craft, deception and intentional interference in the American way of life to the fore.

You can see more of why I think this new season of The Americans is so good by clicking on the video review above. But let me give a shout-out to the performances of the better-than-ever Holly Taylor, Costa Ronin, the never-to-be-underestimated Noah Emmerich, Frank Langella and Emmy-winning Margo Martindale. To play on as high a level and high a wire as Russell and Rhys do is a challenge for the best of the best, and these cast members rise to it.

Source: http://deadline.com/

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