30 Pilots in 30 Days: The Americans

Had I seen it before: No.

What IMDb says: Two Soviet intelligence agents pose as a married couple to spy on the American government.

Why I picked it: This one has actually been on my personal to-watch list for a while now and I had just never gotten around to it. I love how the concept walks that perfect line between familiar and comfortable (political dramas, spy thrillers) and fresh and original (it actually has Soviet protagonists spying on the US!). My interest was piqued even further when I learned the creator had actually worked for the CIA at one point. The logline is solid, so I want to see if this pilot lives up to it.

I also think The Americans has an interesting dichotomy between success on paper and success in life. It’s had five seasons now, and is scheduled to end after six, which is a long enough run to be considered a success. It has some Emmy nods under its belt, including a nomination for Outstanding Drama Series last year, and nods for acting and writing both this year and last year. That being said, it’s never had the sort of cultural success of basic cable dramas like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, or the Walking Dead. In fact, I’m not even sure I know one person who watches it. Maybe that’s just the difference between FX and AMC, maybe it actually has something to do with the quality of the show. We shall see!

What I liked: So I know this isn’t saying much since it’s only Day 3, but this was my favorite one so far. It doesn’t rely too heavily on dialog for exposition, but there’s still enough dialog to contextualize the action. It’s not one of those things where I’m just watching fight scenes and chase scenes without any sense of caring.

This one did great job of clearly defining the conflicts that will drive the whole series. We know that Elizabeth is loyal to the USSR. We know that Philip is supposed to be loyal to the USSR but is more loyal to Elizabeth than anything. We know that an FBI agent just moved in next door to them, though that might just be a coincidence. We know that if Philip and Elizabeth are caught by the US, they will spend life in prison unless they defect. If they defect, there’s a good chance other USSR operatives will kidnap them and turn them into the KGB. We understand how difficult it is for Elizabeth and Philip to maintain the life they have now, and we also understand just how dire the consequences are if they fail. Job well done.

What I didn’t like: Did it really HAVE to be an hour and nine minutes? I had not budgeted that much time for it.

Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Damn straight I want to watch Ep. 2. This is strong enough that I’ll probably at least watch all of Season 1, if not more.

3 thoughts on “30 Pilots in 30 Days: The Americans

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