by Al Hoff
The FX show The Americans was sort of a oddball sell from the start: Travel back to Washington, D.C., 1981, and watch a couple of embedded Soviet spies infiltrate our government.
But those of us who checked in found a fascinating drama, equal parts thriller and domestic melodrama. Political tensions — Reagan has just been elected — have never been higher, but equally problematic is the arranged marriage between the two spies (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys). The show is five episodes in, and has done a great job intertwining these two complementary narratives.
In case you need to root for the red-blooded Americans, the show also follows the FBI unit assigned to track Soviet spies; the chief agent (portrayed by Noah Emmerich) conveniently lives next door to the Soviet spies, creating a frission-filled who's-zooming-who suburban cul-de-sac.
The Americans also trades on the pleasures of "look at the old days," as we marvel at the clunky spycraft pre-microgadgets or the dreadful period wallpapers. And because we know history's outcome, that's yet another layer.
And it's not to late to get on board. FX is re-running all five episodes tomorrow night, Fri., March 1, beginning at 10 p.m.. Make a big bowl of popcorn, or set your DVRs. Or check your On Demand. Or catch up with online episodes. Regularly scheduled episodes air at 10 p.m., on Wednesdays.