The Americans is one of my favorite shows, and is certainly one of the more high-quality pieces of television around at the moment. Yet, nobody ever seems to talk about it.
As a quick overview for those who don’t know it, The Americans is on FX and follows the lives of two Russian deep-cover spies, or “Illegals”, whose cover is so deep that they speak in flawless American accents and live seemingly typical American lives in a polite suburban neighbourhood. Even their own kids don’t know they’re actually Russian.
The show recently wrapped up its fifth season, with work already having started on a sixth and final season. Given that some pretty popular and well-made TV series have been axed after one or two seasons in recent years, six seasons is pretty good going.
It stands to reason that if The Americans has made it this far, then people must be watching it. But the strange thing is, it never seems to be discussed like most shows do.
So far undercover that no-one has heard of them
TV shows are a good default area of chat between people who have been thrown together through work or at dinner parties. They are also a good topic of conversation between people who actually want to socialize with each other. And when the subject comes up, the same shows often get talked about.
In terms of series in a vaguely similar vein to the Americans (which is basically to say quite dark), I have lost count of the number of times I’ve discussed how good True Detective or the fact that I haven’t made it through Breaking Bad yet.
Yet I have never heard The Americans brought up once, and when I mention it people say they’ve never seen it and often that they haven’t heard of it.
I never see it discussed on social media (other than when deliberately searching for it). The only Facebook friend I have ever known to mention it is the guy who I saw raving about it several years ago which made me watch it in the first place.
What’s notable is not that there are some shows out there that are less popular than others, but that a less prominent show has managed to make it to six seasons in a time when many fall by the wayside much earlier.
Has The Americans benefited from quality over popularity?
I like to think that even in a ruthless industry, The Americans has survived because of how good it is regardless of how popular it is.
The lead performances, from Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, are excellent. Some of the suspense and action is as good as TV anywhere, and the only criticism is that the dark intensity is a little relentless sometimes. There could be a few more jokes and lighter moments.
Overall, though, a great show that probably does deserve more exposure but is a good news story in that it has been allowed a chance to develop.
Are you a fan, or do you know people who are? Let us know in the comments.