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8 Reasons Why "The Americans" Deserves All The Emmys


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The 2015 Emmy nominations were released this morning to the usual cacophony of cheers, boos, and bewildered sighs.

But one thing stood out in looking over the Television Academy's nominations — the complete lack of love for The Americans.


Sure, the show received a couple of nominations — one for Margo Martindale's guest role and one for dramatic writing — but NO NOMS FOR KERI RUSSELL, MATTHEW RHYS, OR BEST DRAMA?

People were not pleased.

Can't believe #TheAmericans and its 2 stars were shutout by Emmy voters. Off to the Gulag with all of you!

How great does #TheAmericans have to be to get some Emmy love? 5x better than the other nominees? 10x?


1. Keri Russell gives one of the most fierce and provocative performances currently on television.

Jeffrey Neira/FX

Take, for example, Episode 9 of Season 3, "Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep." In particular when Russell's character comes upon an innocent office worker, is perhaps the best showcase for the range that Russell is able to pull off in her performance. Her character's emotions run the gamut from sincere empathy to subtle contempt as she confronts her own personal demons in a stunning conversation about family, good and evil, and how to reconcile the two. When Elizabeth Jennings eventually forces the elderly woman to overdose on pills so as to not leave any witnesses to her and Philip's crime, she must also force herself to endure the painful throb of familial lack that her conversation has awoken within her. It's a heart-wrenching sequence and requires the stellar acting of Russell to pull off.

3. The child actors are talented and their characters are more than throwaways.

Patrick Harbon/FX

It often feels like teenagers on TV are merely meant as window-dressing, just another prop signifying something about the truly important characters: the adults. Not on The Americans. This past season especially brought actress Holly Taylor to the fore as Paige, the teenage daughter of Philip and Elizabeth who slowly discovers the truth about her parents' identities. We don't only see Paige force her parents to reexamine their beliefs and motivations, but the inverse as well. The show is so good that The Americans is somehow able to make the complexity of young adulthood seem simple to pull off.


4. The entire supporting cast, in fact, brings a tremendous depth to the series.

Craig Blankenhorn / FX

From Noah Emmerich as Stan Beeman to Alison Wright as Martha, these are people with their own thoughts, feelings, and lives — and we actually get to see them be fleshed out. Almost any of these characters could carry an entire episode on their own.

5. The series doesn't shy away from the dark realities that its characters must face.

Ali Goldstein/FX

There's no sugarcoating some of the awful stuff that happens on this series, and The Americans isn't afraid to delve into the depths of darkness that its characters face. From life in an austere Russian prison to gruesome murders by fire, the series spreads the wealth when it comes to bleakness. But, as pointed out by critics and commentators, it is that bleakness that allows The Americans to thrive. It is in the moments of the deepest despair that we see these characters confronting their humanity, constructing and reconstructing their boundaries and intimacies, and grappling with the harsh realities that the depths of the Cold War have foisted upon them. Nothing in this show suggests that a happy ending is coming, and that's what makes it so intriguing.

6. It explores intimacy in surprising and compelling ways.


One of the most talked-about scenes from Season 3 came when Philip had to perform some amateur dentistry to remove Elizabeth's injured tooth, since spies are, naturally, unable to simply visit the hospital when they're not feeling too hot. Elizabeth can not turn to anyone else, placing Philip in the role of caretaker in this moment along with husband and parter in espionage. If Philip and Elizabeth's marriage was originally one of convenience, a necessity in order to provide a cover for their true identities, it has morphed by this point into something much more complex — especially as the mandate to groom Paige for the Russians has thrown the carefully calibrated intimacy they had forged into chaos. And in this moment, when Philip removes Elizabeth's tooth, we see that intimacy both reinforced and challenged. There is a physical closeness, of course, but it is also extremely mental — there is pain here, and power. The dynamics make for a thrilling scene with some superb acting.

7. It is a genuinely thrilling and suspenseful show.

Patrick Harbon/FX

For all of its other great qualities, when it comes down to it, The Americans needs to execute its premise solidly in order to succeed. And as a spy show, it does just that. From major fight sequences to slow drives around the D.C. area, anything and everything can become a riveting showpiece thanks to the direction, music, and more. You'll jump out of your seat at least once an episode.