Binge Guide

A Guide to Binge-Watching The Americans

Find out where and why to see FX's Cold War spy show.

by | December 30, 2014 | Comments

With season two now available on DVD and season three fast approaching this January, we thought a visit back to the Reagan Era for a hang with our fave KBG spies is essential. Here’s what you need to know to catch up on FX’s The Americans before season three pounces upon us Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 10:00 pm.

 

The Americans

The Americans

What’s the premise? A couple of KGB spies pose as a married American couple in 1980s Washington, D.C.

What’s it like? It’s like your favorite Russian spy movie… but as a television series. Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters) and Keri Russell (Felicity) star as Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, the two spies who are oh-so-smooth with every move. In order to make their marriage seem legit, Philip and Elizabeth even have children together — and now they’ve got two American kids to raise, adding some family drama to the mix. They’ve grown to love each other, but even fake marriages can go awry. Margo Martindale (August, Osage County, The Millers, Masters of Sex) appears as their KGB handler in America, and when she tests their loyalty, the Jennings make violently clear exactly how they feel about it.

Where can I see it? Season one and two are available on Vudu, Amazon Prime, and iTunes. Seasons one and two are now available on DVD too. Season three begins January 27 (Wednesdays at 10pm on FX), so catch up now!

How long will it take? Not long; only 26 episodes make up all of seasons one and two. So, without commercials, it should just take you about 20 hours.

What do the critics think? Season one is Certified Fresh at 90 percent — pretty awesome. Amy Amatangelo of Paste Magazine said, “What I liked most about the drama is that Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are so utterly believable as Philip and Elizabeth Jennings.” And Popmatters’ Cynthia Fuchs wrote, “As much as the series’ pitch seems clear — it’s another period series, with terrific design details, long story arcs, and complex performances — it is also something else, a reframing of what it might mean to be ‘Americans,’ then and now.” For season two, Certified Fresh at 97 percent, Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post raved, “Holy Mother Russia, you need to be watching The Americans. Very few shows are able to combine pleasurable episodic storytelling so deftly with solid character building and delicious suspense.”

Why should I watch this? It’s gripping as all get-out, and seeing Keri Russell in a dramatic adult role is just cool. As Claudia, Margo Martindale has a take-no-prisoners attitude that knocks you to your knees, and Russell and Rhys as the Jennings more than hold their own, with quick thinking and uber-dextrous slaying skills. Watching The Americans also provides a great opportunity to brush up on your 1980s pop culture. (We could, however, stand to see more shoulder pads, neon-patterned gym pants, Swatch watches, and jellies; it’s sort of a wasted opportunity there.) The current struggles facing the two lead characters are what we find so compelling today. There is serious emotional warfare raging in their heads and we sit anxiously awaiting answers from season two. Add in the dramatic appeal of the Jennings’ eldest child beginning to unravel the mystery of who her parents are, and the result is a thought-provoking concoction that will satiate your taste for action and mystery.

What’s my next step? If you’re into spy films, check out Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Man Who Knew Too Much (both versions), True Lies, Gotcha!, and Fair Game. As for television series, try BBC America’s limited-run spy show The Game or Hulu’s comedy The Wrong Mans. Margo Martindale fans should see the film August: Osage County, and on TV, she appears in The Millers, Justified, and Masters of Sex. Keri Russell, of course, was TV’s Felicity and recently starred in the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. And you can see more solid acting skills from Matthew Rhys in old episodes of Brothers and Sisters.

What do you like about The Americans? How would you explain it to a newbie?

Tag Cloud

Pet Sematary theme song RT21 Action Amazon Prime USA 45 scary movies Paramount what to watch Sci-Fi doctor who robots TruTV Shondaland cooking asian-american Summer Lifetime Christmas movies Super Bowl Best and Worst DGA dark golden globes BBC America cancelled TV series Music vampires adventure 24 frames Academy Awards hollywood facebook AMC Creative Arts Emmys comics ITV The Purge screenings SXSW animated Walt Disney Pictures Fall TV X-Men green book war toy story FXX Film Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt festivals Pride Month Opinion medical drama Mary Poppins Returns justice league zombie video on demand rotten Comedy Central documentary spanish language Columbia Pictures witnail versus Box Office zero dark thirty romance Lionsgate Cannes science fiction unscripted zombies YA Pop serial killer Vudu Ghostbusters binge Lifetime superhero SDCC Hulu Hallmark aliens thriller spain Paramount Network Rocketman strong female leads Crackle batman political drama Logo OWN casting CBS Television Critics Association BET 2017 First Reviews psychological thriller slashers IFC Films crossover anthology Esquire south america Fox News DC Universe cinemax TCA Awards Red Carpet Martial Arts Spring TV Avengers Grammys worst chucky NYCC Disney WGN USA Network finale ABC Election Elton John Set visit game of thrones romantic comedy blockbuster Tomatazos Showtime reviews latino The Walking Dead Marathons Superheroe jamie lee curtis FOX TIFF laika The CW historical drama Sundance TV Turner Classic Movies Awards Tour Reality Watching Series 2015 movie movies reboot Tumblr Baby Yoda Winter TV Cosplay franchise TCA 2017 canceled TV shows Song of Ice and Fire Binge Guide child's play MSNBC RT History 2018 A&E sequel Sony Pictures American Society of Cinematographers psycho Anna Paquin Schedule Funimation technology Pixar YouTube Red DC streaming service Sneak Peek CW Seed The Witch based on movie Reality Competition HBO Go richard e. Grant name the review BBC One 2020 MCU TLC New York Comic Con Universal Bravo Amazon Tubi comedies Mary Tyler Moore Comedy christmas movies Captain marvel 72 Emmy Awards TNT dceu Trivia concert sitcom San Diego Comic-Con Sundance Masterpiece mutant Apple Nickelodeon Emmy Nominations Rom-Com Podcast Women's History Month natural history discovery Trailer E! BBC true crime CNN comic Certified Fresh news cars Fantasy Travel Channel Awards period drama tv talk Musicals singing competition VICE APB 21st Century Fox Heroines Teen Quiz Crunchyroll Animation renewed TV shows Mudbound Character Guide biography Amazon Prime Video Comics on TV rotten movies we love 2019 Epix sports Trophy Talk travel GIFs Rock universal monsters cancelled television politics Family Classic Film Amazon Studios A24 Rocky Country cancelled films talk show 71st Emmy Awards Dark Horse Comics canceled cults crime drama VH1 die hard spider-man Marvel television Infographic OneApp SundanceTV Disney+ Disney Plus PBS Turner TV Toys 007 kids Adult Swim Star Wars revenge El Rey miniseries critics Peacock independent Writers Guild of America Hear Us Out Apple TV+ award winner free movies Freeform joker Television Academy LGBTQ Musical a nightmare on elm street BET Awards PlayStation Cartoon Network History Mystery TV Land First Look Shudder Polls and Games Video Games Starz Interview 4/20 Apple TV Plus satire cops CMT Food Network stop motion Sundance Now Acorn TV nbcuniversal NBC book ABC Family foreign fast and furious cancelled TV shows See It Skip It directors dragons crime Netflix composers Ellie Kemper stand-up comedy TCA Winter 2020 comiccon National Geographic all-time Extras TCM criterion Black History Month Biopics werewolf Kids & Family Netflix Christmas movies classics Nat Geo anime stoner Emmys dc Pirates Spectrum Originals Comic Book harry potter cartoon Endgame nature E3 docudrama Winners HBO Max MTV Disney streaming service Valentine's Day Photos Hallmark Christmas movies Christmas quibi Disney Plus 20th Century Fox VOD Chernobyl Holidays spinoff dogs hispanic halloween Stephen King crime thriller elevated horror Thanksgiving ratings Countdown TV renewals ESPN police drama Star Trek screen actors guild sag awards obituary WarnerMedia The Arrangement YouTube Premium FX on Hulu Brie Larson Film Festival Western Year in Review Syfy best DirecTV Discovery Channel parents series boxoffice Oscars Disney Channel FX mission: impossible indie Nominations Calendar YouTube space transformers Tarantino disaster Marvel Television Horror GLAAD Ovation TBS social media teaser Mindy Kaling Drama Premiere Dates CBS All Access Arrowverse Spike ghosts mockumentary Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Holiday HBO emmy awards BAFTA diversity cats blaxploitation supernatural spy thriller indiana jones IFC hist children's TV Superheroes documentaries GoT game show streaming Warner Bros. Marvel Studios President video Britbox Pop TV dramedy adaptation Lucasfilm twilight Mary poppins Black Mirror LGBT DC Comics TCA PaleyFest 2016 breaking bad