PRESTIGE TELEVISION... Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, a seemingly normal couple who lead secret lives as Russian KGB spies in The Americans. PRESTIGE TELEVISION... Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell as Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, a seemingly normal couple who lead secret lives as Russian KGB spies in The Americans.

Entertain Us (26-6-2018): The Americans is over, and you should start watching

THE Americans has just ended its run as one of television’s finest shows, wrapping up with a typically tense and emotionally-draining final season.

Unfortunately, not nearly enough people were watching.

The Americans is about a husband and wife who seem to have the typical suburban life, with two kids and small travel agency.

The catch is the show is set during the 1980s cold war and the couple, Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) are actually Russian spies.

The show has received widespread praise but could never convert that acclaim into viewership.

Perhaps too many people expected a spy show to be all action, all the time, whereas The Americans usually opted for a slow burn, showing the various complexities of the work and its impacts.

At its heart, The Americans was more about the relationship of Phillip and Elizabeth, whose marriage was arranged and whose work necessitated constant extra-marital affairs, than it was about spying.

The showrunners asked a lot of their audience. If viewers wanted the payoff, they had to strap in for the full ride.

For example, one episode features a scene in which the main characters and some helpers dig a hole – for 11 minutes.

Those who hung in there were rewarded with thrilling climaxes, although not always by way of explosions and gunfights.

That’s not to say The Americans lacked action.

People were killed regularly. A couple were dismembered – one to fit inside a suitcase, another so she could never be identified and linked to the Russian KGB.

But every time, the weight of the situation was apparent in a way it is not with more action-focused programs. Phillip in particular was anguished by the killing, and many other aspects of his job, as well as the prospect of his children finding out who he truly was and the things he had done.

The recent finale was fitting, featuring several edge-of-your-seat moments and some heartbreaking conclusions for main characters, without resorting to over-the-top action sequences.

Viewership dropped by an estimated 15 per cent from the start of season six to the end. It was already down on the previous season, which was down on the season before that.

That’s a genuine shame because The Americans is worth the investment. I expect the series will grow in stature during the next few years and eventually go down as one of the great shows of the current era and would recommend it to anyone looking for their next program to binge watch.

 

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