So, the novel is…well, I’m thinking about it. Why does life have to get in the way like it does? So many other things to deal with throughout the day. And I’m a master procrastinator, and what does this procrastinator do to facilitate the procrastinating? She watches television!
I just finished watching the first episode of The Americans. When I first saw the trailer for this show, I was definitely intrigued, but I wasn’t totally sold. Well, throw it in the bag, because they’ve convinced me to buy! Having grown up in the 1980’s I adore this show and can totally relate – the music, the cars, the outfits. I also think that having grown up in this time period, the show hits the nail on the head for me in terms of making me feel slightly uncomfortable rooting for the spies. As an adult, obviously, I have a different understanding of that time period and the players in the Cold War, but as a child, I just remember being scared that the Russians were going to drop a bomb on us. I wonder how others have reacted to it, particularly those under the age of 30.
With this first episode the creators, writers and everyone else have done an excellent job balancing the human side of this couple with their reality and their conflicting loyalties. Add to that expertly executed suspense and I think this may be my favorite new show of the season. (I’m still a fan of 666 Park Ave., but since they’ve canceled that show and haven’t even aired the final episodes, my enthusiasm for it has most definitely waned.) I think I was expecting something drier and not quite as exciting. Something more…historical? But, they seem to have the history in there, while making it exceedingly entertaining to watch. And that last scene!
The timing on this show also seems appropriate, as opposed to something like Zero Dark Thirty, which admittedly I don’t know much about, but seems to be in very poor taste, especially in light of that Esquire article. The creators of this show waited at least two epochs (the post-Cold War era and over a decade of our current era) before they created this show, which allowed them to create something that feels real instead of something that feels like propaganda. Well, as real as an undercover KGB spy thriller in which the FBI agent that is pursuing them lives next door can feel real. But, any which way you slice it, it is some damn fine television.
After writing this post I had a quick look around at what some other bloggers are saying about this show. My first impressions were that people fall into one of two camps: they either love it or they hate it. I also noticed that those who tend to hate this show and/or feel it somehow promotes anti-Russian sentiments were born after the date of the show’s setting (1981). In other words, upon first examination, it appears as though younger folk who do not remember the Cold War do not appreciate the show in the same way as those who do remember the Cold War. (I hope this does not forecast a short life for the show.)
I am sure this is not the case with everyone born in the mid- to late-80s or after, but one of my first thoughts after having watched this episode was whether or not younger people would understand or get the significance of the show in the same way as those of us who lived through this time period. Yeah, the FBI agent moving in next door may seem a bit contrived, but it is going to prove for some awesome suspense and tension. Other than that, it may seem like an unrealistic storyline – two Soviet-loyal spies trained to appear American, living normal lives until they’re called up to kidnap a defector – but that part is the realistic aspect of the show, as it actually happened (and probably still does). And I feel as though the show does an excellent job portraying the consequences of the conflicting loyalties and emotions the characters go through as a result of who they are.
Finally, as for me, I thought the way the Russians were portrayed was actually a lot LESS negative than I expected. Instead, it feels like they are just doing what they think they need to do in order to protect their country and their way of life.