In its fourth season, FX’s 1980s Soviet spy period drama The Americans has finally broken through with Television Academy members and earned some top-notch Emmy nominations including drama series, lead actress for Keri Russell and lead actor for Matthew Rhys.
Since its first season, The Americans, which follows Soviet spies Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Rhys and Russell0, a married couple posing as an American suburban one at the height of the Cold War, was a critical darling. However, when it came to Emmy season, the series was continually overlooked in the above the line categories. In the wake of AMC’s Mad Men, which would consistently earn acting nominations and strike out in wins (except for Jon Hamm’s lead actor drama win last year), Americans was another example of a period series that was challenged when it came to Emmys.
The news today came as a huge surprise to both Russell and Americans EPs Joseph Weisberg and Joel Fields. Commenting on why this year was finally the year for the show, Russell beamed, “In all my years of wearing winter coats, I have no idea why. Our show is a slow burn for a lot of people.”
“It feels like we’re the bad kids who got invited to the party,” quipped the actress who counts her first Emmy nom after scoring a Golden Globe in 1999 for Felicity. For Rhys, Fields and Weisberg, it’s their first time too.
“We spent so much time convincing ourselves this wouldn’t happen, that it’s hard to turn on a dime and explain why it did happen,” said Weisberg about the show’s kudo nom collection.
“We live in a time where it takes some shows some time to hit their zeitgeist,” said Fields.
In total, Americans counts five noms this year including honors for writing (episode “Persona non Grata” by Weisberg and Fields) and for guest drama actress Margo Martindale (as tough-as-nails Soviet spy ring leader Claudia), who after winning last year for the series, now counts her fourth guest actress nom for the show.
Season 4 was a humdinger which saw a consistent number of turning points, specifically which resulted in death or deportation. Two characters met their maker: Soviet spy Nina Krilova (Annet Mahendru) and FBI chief Frank Gaad (Richard Thomas). Then there was FBI secretary Martha Hanson (Alison Wright) who was deported after the Feds learned that she married Philip, and he was muscling government information out of her.
Said Russell about what struck her this season, “Interestingly enough the series has become less violent and more interpersonal. It’s always been a relationship show, a slow one, and I love when it lives in those places.” Her favorite moment? Wigging out at Paige in the kitchen after she’s comprised her parents’ identities to her youth group church leader who now watches over the parents with a stern eye. Throughout the season, the Jennings plotted to kill off Paige’s youth group leader. Joked Russell today, “We’d say at the end of every week, we can’t believe he’s still alive!”
If Paige couldn’t stir up any more trouble, in the closing moments of the season finale, we see she’s fallen in love with FBI neighbor Stan Beeman’s (Noah Emmerich) son. And for Fields, that moment when Philip walks Paige away from Beeman’s house says it all for season 4. “The weight of when he crosses her across the street, glances up at his wife, and she glances back at him. It underscores the inner, subtle lives of these characters.”
Counting, this year’s round of noms, Americans throughout the course of its run has earned 10 Emmy noms. Fox 21 Television Studios is the creator and producer of The Americans.