1) The Americans
This FX show is wrapping up its first season presently, but it has proven to be one of the strongest first seasons of television to come along in some time. It has the period appeal of Mad Men, taking place in the midst of 1980s Cold War tensions. It has the United States Intelligence aspect that delivers the types of thrills you’d see in a show like Homeland. And then at its core there’s a strange romantic drama between the lead characters played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, whose marriage is complicated by the fact that they are spies whose relationship began as a front for their organization but has developed into something more.
The show spins a lot of plates at once, beginning slowly at first but right now it’s picking up considerable speed. Over the course of a single episode you’ll see the protagonists don a series of disguises for a few scenes, then it transitions to them working out issues in their sort-of-fake, sort-of-real marriage. Then some crazy stuff goes down, someone gets offed, some officer gets kidnapped and they try extract information from him, Keri Russell shows some badass moves and beats the hell out of some dude, and they’re back into parent mode again completely seamlessly. But that’s not all the show has going for it. There’s a unique tone to The Americans that suggests both international menace and local suburban unrest. And there’s a fantastic and subtle supporting performance by one of the best character actors in the business, Noah Emmerich. Without giving too much away, it’s a new TV show that is still throwing surprises at its growing audience, and has potential to sustain a compelling story over a number of seasons. Oh, I also learned recently that the showrunner is a former CIA officer. So that adds an extra layer of interest to this compelling show.
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