My thoughts on the FX show “The Americans”

I was a weird kid. Weird in a way that I was acutely aware of the world around me at an early age. I became obsessed with the presidency and politics in general as early as January of 1980 when we were vacationing in Florida at Disney World. (I was almost 9 years old at the time.) We were in our hotel room and President Carter’s State of the Union address was on TV. Instead of playing with my younger siblings I sat there mesmerized by the TV and what Carter was saying. Fast forward to early 1981 where I distinctly remember watching President Reagan being sworn into office and minutes later the hostages getting released from Iran. I was also aware that the show Nightline was created just to update Americans about the hostage crisis. (This was before the advent of CNN BTW!) I really don’t know where this interest began, however, I do remember my parents having the news on everyday and newspapers and magazines in the house.

Which brings me to the show “The Americans”. I personally love it. I’ve never really seen Keri Russell in anything else before so she is a revelation to me as Elizabeth Jennings. Matthew Rhys, on the other hand did a fantastic job playing openly-gay Kevin on “Brothers and Sisters” and does a marvelous job here as Phillip Jennings. Others have written great reviews about the actors and overall storytelling but what gets me excited is the portrayal of historical events within the context of the show. Last night’s episode (which centered around Reagan’s assassination attempt) brought me back to my childhood. Again, I remember Reagan’s assassination attempt as if it happened last month.

I really can’t wait to see this show delve into other historical events in the 1980’s. Since Phillip and Elizabeth (Keri’s character) have a 13-year old daughter Paige and a 10-year old son Henry it will be interesting to see which pop culture events and fads the show chooses to portray. I did notice that Paige was reading a teen magazine in the scene with Phillip in the diner. Nice touch showrunners! I also appreciate the period details. I know that some viewers and critics have noted that some of the fashion and hairstyles are not as period as they could be but that is not as important to me as them getting the vehicles, decor and technology (or lack of it) correct.

The flashbacks to Phillip and Elizabeth’s younger years are fascinating. The show does a great job showing the stark environment that was the post WWII Soviet Union era. I wonder how much we are going to see of their past as the show goes along?

It’s weird to think that this show is set a little over 30 years ago especially since one of my friends is only 28 years old.

Some other musings…

Do the Jenning’s have a VCR? We were the second family on the block to buy one in 1978.

Will Paige beg her parents for a Walkman?

Will Henry convince his parents to get him an Atari game system?

How will Elizabeth cope as she witnesses the Soviet Empire crumble?

Will their kids ever find out who they really are and if so what will their response be?

Will they eventually defect or will they be jailed?