Friday, October 4, 2013
6:30 pm ET
Moderator: Matt Zoller Seitz, TV Critic, NYMag.com
Even in the age of the conflicted hero, FX’s The Americans is impressively bold: the series stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as—get this—a pair of undercover Soviet agents, clandestinely plying their trade while posing as travel agents in suburban Washington, D.C., during the Reagan eighties. Recipient of the Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding New Program, The Americans was created by Joe Weisberg—himself a former CIA agent. The series crackles with all the suspense inherent in the genre, but as fellow executive producer/showrunner Joel Fields says, “The Americans is at its core a marriage story; international relations is just an allegory for human relations.” Elizabeth and Philip navigate not only their own marriage—arranged by the KGB—but also relationships with their two young children, based completely on lies since neither of them knows anything about their parents’ true identities. Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Philip constantly sneak out in service of the motherland, committing acts so treacherous that we, as viewers, are confronted with “TV’s deepest moral dilemma since The Sopranos,” as the St. Louis Post Dispatch sees it. Complicating matters even further: FBI Agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), ostensibly the good guy, who just so happens to be the Jennings’s next-door neighbor, is engaging in questionable behavior of his own—possibly about to get much worse.