Did you watch The Americans last night? The new FX show about two sleeper cell KGB agents living in suburban Maryland (or wherever, the DC-metro area, OK, agent Boring?!) in the 1980s? You should have watched it! You blew it! Just kidding, there is still time to make up for your mistakes! Probably! The pilot episode was really good, and the show holds a lot of “promise.” Ugh, is there anything worse than TV speak? I mean, yes, like, war and female circumcision and that video from earlier today. But you know what I mean. Anyway, in The Americans, Felicity plays a young Russian spy who lives in a suburban home with her fake spy husband and their two real non-spy kids. (They did not show this scene in the pilot, but I think every spy is just issued one cyanide capsule that you hide in your molar for if you get caught, and one baby capsule that you hide in your genitals in case you get bored? In this case: twinsies! None of this is true, can we please get back to talking about the show? No YOU got us off track, with your FACE.) They’ve just kidnapped a high-grade Russian defector but they blew the mission and now he is locked in the truck of their 1977 Oldsmobile. Meanwhile, an FBI agent has just moved in across the street. Does he know? Does he suspect? Was he in The Truman Show? Meanwhile, Felicity’s husband is having second thoughts about this whole “being a secret Russian spy” thing but she is a die hard Russian spy 4 lyfe. Will they get divorced? Will they go on Donahue? Who will take the kids to Teddy Ruxpin practice?! (1980s.) The show sets up tons of fun stuff. Why don’t I marry it? Uh, I wish that I could, thanks for reminding me!
The spy stuff is obviously cool, always. Spies rule. It’s also cool that the show follows “the bad guys.” That’s fun. But I think the part I like the most is the weird relationship between Felicity and the guy from Brothers and Sisters. They’re doing what amounts to a job together, but it involves actual children and decades of living in the same house, and the weird tension between him kind of falling in love with her and just wanting to be her husband and her never forgetting that they have a job to do and the motherland and trying to cut his head off in the kitchen and cetra and cetra: it’s a really interesting TV relationship! Good job, TV! You are great! (That being said, their relationship is also a mega-bummer. Like, do you remember that scene where they pour acid all over a dead body and then dump it into the river while Phil Collins is playing and suddenly they can’t keep their hands off of each other, and this is supposed to be a turning point where she realizes how much he cares about her and wants to protect her and that is why she raw-dogs him in the backseat and then also stands up for him in the private Tea Time with the Russian Hotel Guy? Well, that was the best it ever got for the two of them, but you also can’t help but associate her sexuality with either private trauma and/or the manipulative tool to elicit a required response. So right now he is mostly getting the sad end of the stick.)
Also the actor who plays the husband is really good at transitioning between being this sort of nerdy schmoe and being an angry face danger spy. Good job. Good acting.
There are obviously a few things that are a little bit silly or at least difficult to swallow. Some of them are just TV things where you know they have to do them for TV because that is how you transmit certain pieces of information, but at the same time they break from the reality of a situation. Like, the idea that you can be born and raised in Russia and live there until your mid 20s and then come to America and speak flawless Midwestern English and dress in the correct clothes and know about jogging in the park, or whatever. I just don’t think the 1980s Russian intelligence service was sophisticated enough to know about pet rocks and jazzercise. Or, like, when the papa takes his babushka to the astronaut conference and grinds his teeth while they say the pledge of allegiance. Oh please. That motherfucker would be screaming that pledge. ME LOVE AMERICA LONG TIME! (Speaking of Russians trying to figure out how the United States works, have you been reading Simon Rich’s novella that the New Yorker is serializing all week on its website? It’s very funny. A++.) But like I said, it’s TV. Give it a break.
So yeah! The Americans! Score another one for FX, right? Those guys. Love those guys. Love having fun. Love America. Love The Americans.