I thought it would be interesting to share with you my opinion on The Americans. I know that I am so late in the game, but thanks to the magic of streaming I started watching the show in November 2019. Previously, I have watched Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Six Feet Under, The Wire, The Soprano and many others. So I had a high degree of expectation and I kept hearing about how good was the show. To me, the synopsis was so promising: spies, the Cold War, family...
So I decided to give it a chance. 🤞
I must confess that it took a long time before I was hooked. I have heard that a majority of people were into it from the start, but not me. What really bothered me was how the execution was sometimes lacking. In particular, I remembered how unfocussed was the plot that season with a serial structure (each week, a new unrelated mission was thrown at the main characters). It was sometimes difficult to get the big picture. And my disbelief was entirely suspended in certain scenes which felt too cartoonish/tropey (especially, the fights; Philip having a secret son...). But hopefully, I found some elements really promising such as the rivalry between Elisabeth and Claudia, the psychological aspect and the events in the last episode. So at the end of the first season, I had mixed feelings, but I wanted to give the show a chance. 6.5/10.
Strong season premiere. The mystery surrounding the murder of another spy couple was interesting, and there were so many possibilities (was the KGB the perpetrator?). So I felt the characters' paranoia escalating. Overall, I found this season better than the first, but, unfortunately with the same flaws: the tropey aspect with the annoying antagonist (Larrick) and the unsatisfying resolution. At the same time, the Nina storyline was building up into something interesting and the ending (Nina leaving the US) was heartbreaking. Furthermore, the psychology of Elisabeth and Philip was so fascinating to watch. It was moderately good, but nothing close to what I have been expecting (due to the critical acclaim). 7/10
Then the unexpected happens. Not sure if it is me being used to the setting and the characters. But to me, the show makes a huge leap in quality. All the Paige and the Martha storyline, the psychology study of the characters, the tension, the detail-oriented approach... Watching each episode became so enjoyable and I was now invested to the characters, wanting to know what will happen to them. It became really addicting and I could feel for the first time a sense of direction. 8/10.
What a ride. So many great moments: the exfiltration of Martha (so suspenseful), the shocking death of Nina, dealing with Pastor Tim, the coronavirus episode, Paige... Both Elisabeth and Philip had to deal with personal issues (guilt...) on their own, which is synonymous with compelling television. So good. This time, I was fully onboard. 9/10
The pacing was so slow; the direction of the story was unclear. However, strangely enough, I kind of like this season. It really allowed us to breathe with the characters and to better understand what really drives them. However, it was not nearly as good as the two previous seasons, but it was better than the first ones. I guess binge-watching it helped a lot. 7.5/10.
What an incredible season! Probably one of the best seasons that I have ever watched, since Breaking Bad. The mood was so dark, and you could feel that all the characters (especially Elisabeth) were about to crack. The last episodes were really tense to the point I was shaking. At this point, I cared so much for the characters. The payoff was incredible. All the lies, the murders, the disillusions, every little detail paid off. The ending was heartbreaking. The most touching scene is probably that of the garage where Philip repeats to Stan: 'We had a job to do.' This contrast is striking (them begging Stan), as they were shown to us as cold and manipulative killers. The family was completely torn apart. I almost cried. Hopefully with the end of the Cold War, we can hope for a better future for them. For me, it was the perfect ending (far better than those of Breaking Bad, The Sopranos or The Wire). I am glad the writers left us with a few unanswered questions, so the viewers have plenty to discuss. 10/10.
Overall, an an incredible experience. However, although I acknowledge the qualities of the show, to me, it fells a little bit behind the other greatest shows I have watched because of the first seasons and some inconsistent aspects (such as tropes). 8.5/10 👏