On Thursday, the Emmy nominations will finally arrive. One of the biggest questions arising about this year’s nominees is a simple one: will The Americans finally get the respect it deserves?
A few weeks ago, the highly-acclaimed FX drama wrapped up its critically-praised fourth season — a season that showcased the ineptitude and moral depravity of the Soviet Union.
The program stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, two Soviet spies living in the United States in the 1980s. Against the backdrop of the Cold War, these spies live in Virginia and are tasked by the Russian government to elicit secrets from the United States.
When the show launched in 2013, there were some questions about the program’s choice of protagonists. In interviews, executive producer Joel Fields stated then that “we want you to root for the KGB.” The Jennings — who have two children — are clearly the lead characters of the show but since its beginning, the program has repeatedly shown them as the murderers and thieves they are.
In the fourth season, the show — which was created by former CIA officer Joseph Weisberg — has shown these spies beginning to understand the depths of their immorality.
Since the program’s beginning, Philip Jennings has always had his doubts about his profession. After living in the United States for decades and raising two children here, he’s seen the possibilities this country offers. He’s become enamored with the cars he can purchase and the freedoms he can enjoy in the United States. He’s watched his son Henry (Keidrich Sellati) grow up and his daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) find her own path. As a youngster, Paige has embraced religion — a subject that has brought her peace and one that seems foreign and strange to her parents.
At the midpoint of season three, Paige learned that her parents were Russian spies. In season four, as she’s learned more about what that job entails, she’s served as a moral compass on the show. She was torn between the American lifestyle she loves and her Russian parents but as the fourth season progressed, her allegiance with her parents has been undermined time and again.
Not only do they openly lie to her repeatedly but they are also cold-blooded killers, a fact she realized late this season. Now, she’s beginning to realize how far gone they truly are.
In addition to watching Paige realize her parents’ ruthlessness this season, the show has also shown the cruelty and ineptitude of the Soviet Union during this period. This season, Nina — a Russian agent who had previously carried on an affair with an FBI officer and offered him intelligence reports — was manipulated and executed by her home country without a moment’s hesitation. She wasn’t offered a fair trial. Nor was she offered any leniency. The Soviet Union just shot her without remorse.
As Newsbusters reported, another scene this season showed Oleg (Costa Ronin) — an employee of the Russian embassy — realizing the ineptitude of his home country. He told his girlfriend that the Russians had almost started a war with the United States because Russian intelligence agents mistook clouds for missiles coming from the United States. These Russian agents almost started a nuclear war because they couldn’t tell the difference.
There are countless other examples of how this show has shown what the Evil Empire was truly capable of and willing to do.
On the other side of the equation, the Russians live across the street from Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), a FBI counter-intelligence agent. He’s working to undermine the Russian intelligence programs but because of his own naivety, he doesn’t realize that he’s living across the street from spies. The show presents Beeman and the FBI as naive and oftentimes clueless but the officers are good people. They believe in their country and the rule of law.
The Jennings are willing to do anything in their power — including stealing, killing, blackmailing, betraying and destroying others — to protect their home country.
The Emmy's are supposed to recognize the best shows on television today and over the years, The Americans has received five nominations (three of which were for Margo Martindale, who won best actress in a drama series in 2015). The show was also nominated for outstanding main title theme music and best writing. However, this season has truly stood out for showing the main characters here finally recognizing how cruel they’ve truly become and how their country’s government lacks the moral values they see in the United States.
For more pro-U.S. programming, here’s a list of 10 great movies about American patriots.