In celebration of the upcoming release of “The Americans” Season 1 on Blu-Ray and DVD, yours truly was lucky enough to find herself at Nic’s Martini Bar in Beverly Hills to wear awesome Ushanka hats and taste some seriously delicious vodkas in their 28-degree room known as the “VODBox.” Along with a handful of journalists from other outlets, I sampled some tasty “Cold War Cosmos” (complete with hammer and sickle ice cubes) and, most importantly, had a few moments to chat with exec producers Graham Yost, Justin Falvey, and producer Darrel Frank in a comfy roundtable setting.
If you’re not familiar with the hit FX show, here’s a brief overview:
Created by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg, “The Americans” revolves around Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell), two KGB agents posing as your typical American family with 2 kids and a white picket fence in 1984, during the height of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia (then known as the U.S.S.R.). Fears of nuclear holocaust are prevalent on both sides, and some VERY itchy fingers are on the trigger. Did I mention the Jennings’ next door neighbor is a VERY smart FBI agent who has no idea (yet) who they really are? Oh, and The Jennings’ children have no clue their parents are spies, either.
Yost explained they wanted to examine the Cold War through the eyes of a marriage and how the show is NOT about “rooting for the bad guys (a.k.a. The KGB)” but rather rooting for the marriage as it begins to show some cracks and find themselves indeed living like Americans, warts and all, AND dealing with the complications of marriage while still having to sometimes work as “Honey Pots” – do sexual things – in order to get the information they need.
Yost (far right) also brought up two episodes that kind of define what “The Americans” are about: “Trust Me,” (where Elizabeth and Philip are kidnapped and interrogated) and “Safe House,” which sees a certain character make a very difficult decision. For me, the episode that really stands out is “In Control,” which covers the attempted assassination on Reagan.
In my research, I learned the premise is partly based on the 2010 discovery of a Russian Sleeper cell “hiding in plain sight” in the U.S. for AGES. Several of these agents did indeed have kids, friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors that had NO IDEA they were spies. And in true fashion, the captured Russian agents were traded for Americans held by the Russians. AND because Weisberg is actually former CIA (and as some of the events depicted are based on real-life events), any script written by him for the show has to go in front of the CIA Publications Review Board – that in and of itself is pretty dang awesome.
Awesome features on the Blu-ray and DVD include “The Colonel” commentary featuring creator Joe Weisberg, Joel Fields, and star Noah Emmerich (FBI Agent Stan Beeman), “Executive Order 2579: Exposing The Americans,” Perfecting The Art Of Espionage, Ingenuity Over Technology, a gag reel, and some deleted scenes.
While we couldn’t really get anything out of them about the upcoming season 2 (premiering February 26th), Yost DID say that Philip and Elizabeth’s marriage is gonna tested every which way but loose…sounds exciting!
Season 2 of “The Americans” premieres Wednesday, February 26th at 10pm on FX.
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