The Americans: A Pilot Review

Copyright FX Networks

Copyright FX Networks

By Tara Moore—

It turns out that during the Cold War era, America was not all that war-crazy as the KGB and FBI want us to think on The Americans. The picture perfect family Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) created is far from perfect, but there’s not exactly any significant allure to their secret spy lives or the fact that they’re leading such a double life their kids don’t even know about. Not to mention, Philip’s paranoia and eagerness to turn himself in seems like a far cry from any real (or as real as can be) foreign intelligence agent operating in the US and costs the show some future conflict.

Since we already know from the pilot that Elizabeth is on such a different page than Philip, that is, she’s a die-hard KGB operative who would die before betraying mother Russia, how long can their dysfunctional cover family really hold out? Furthermore, the neighbor that just happens to be a counterintelligence FBI agent and recently moved in, is way too coincidental to be entertaining. I’d much rather he was there undercover because as predictable as that seems, at least it’s logical. The coincidence is not as believable as a poor undercover operation would be, perhaps the writers should have considered that when developing the pilot.

At a little over an hour and a half, it was utterly disappointing how mundane the dialogue was as well as the feeble attempts at combat scenes. Keri Russell is a little too frail to be a hard core, ass-whipping Soviet Union spy but FX wants us to look past the exterior and believe she could take on her much bigger though intimidating trainer who’s been locked up in the car trunk for who knows how long exactly. Any show that’s loosely based on historical fact should do the history justice, and the facts even a little more. Right now, The Americans is a potential mini series at best. But having any lasting impression on us proud Americans? Keri Russell will have to step it up.

Which brings me to the raunchy tape recording of her getting it on with a fellow named David who works for the US Department of Justice. Elizabeth the housewife was just naughty enough to get me interested but not necessarily all the way convincing. Perhaps the aggression she showed with him and then again towards her former trainer is a sign of the super spy we’ll see in coming weeks, but FX needs to tread carefully. You can lose a lot of fans with a bad pilot.

As for Philip Jennings, he can be on the fence about his KGB status. We just shouldn’t know that he is quite yet, it’s way too soon. We need a climax here but it looks like it came and went when Philip and Elizabeth ended up having sex after killing the general Philip had tied up in the trunk for a few days. We just hope he picks a side soon, cause if he chooses America, Elizabeth may have her own plans for her hubby in the coming weeks.

We’ll give this one more week, but don’t count on a long term commitment. We already know how the Cold War ends, don’t we?