I first became aware of the FX Cold War spy drama The Americans from Dorothy Rabinowitz’s preview of season 1 in the Wall Street Journal. Rabinowitz’s preview remains online under the heading “The spies next door.” Ms. Rabinowitz returned to the series for season 4 in “Suburbia’s Soviet agents.”
I have Ms. Rabinowitz to thank for hooking us on the series. If you are hooked on it, as we are, no further explanation is necessary, but you will especially enjoy Martha Bayles’s fine appreciation in the new (Summer) issue of the Claremont Review of Books: “The Americans–A fan’s notes.” If you’re not familiar with the series, Bayles’s appreciation will give you a good idea what you’re missing.
Set in the 1980’s, The Americans holds the mirror up to reality in a manner that could not be more timely. Renewed for its fifth and sixth seasons, the series avoids the moral relativism to which so much modern entertainment falls prey. As a show about espionage, the characters constantly engage in deception, and yet at some point they all hunger for the truth. And the writers deftly illustrate the humanity of both the Soviets and the Americans, while never glossing over their essential differences. The Americans manages to shine light on some of the most serious 21st-century threats to our nation, and reminds us that we have still have the strength to push back.
Martha Bayles covers film and television for the Claremont Review of Books in every issue. We asked our friends at the CRB to make her essay on The Americans accessible online as part of our usual quarterly preview of the magazine. As I mentioned, Bayles’s essay on The Americans appears in the new issue. You can avail yourself of the most cost-effective political education in the United States with a subscription to the CRB at the heavily subsidized price of $19.95 a year. Subscribe by clicking on Subscription Services at the link and get immediate online access thrown in for free.