‘The Americans’ Season 5 From The Eyes Of a Newbie

Clarence looks at FX’s critically acclaimed and Emmy-nominated drama ‘The Americans’ for the very first time. Is it possible the series could win in 2017?

FX’s critically acclaimed drama The Americans received its first Drama Series Emmy nomination last year. The attention followed years of widespread angst over continued under-appreciation of the series. It didn’t win, of course. Game of Thrones did. However, HBO made a significant decision for the 2017 Emmy cycle: Game of Thrones Season 7 would not premiere within the Emmy eligibility window. For the first time in nearly a decade, we enter Emmy season without a prescribed favorite. Does that put The Americans in a prime spot for a potential Emmy win?

The Experiment

To explore the potential, I finally decided to preview an episode despite not having seen an episode of the series. This scenario feels highly likely as Emmy voters wakened to the series through last year’s nomination. Given it took 4 years to receive that nomination, it’s highly likely that a smaller number of the Television Academy watched the series from scratch. My experiment, as we’ll call it, doesn’t feel that far off the mark.

So, what were my impressions of The Americans Season 5?

First, the buzz is absolutely true – this is a great series. The direction feels cinematic in its attention to detail and character. The writing provides thematic resonance and an eerie sense of melancholy. The performances are across the board great with stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys deserving every ounce of praise they’ve received. That’s the beauty of coming into a show as its earning its Great Show status. The premiere episode of Season 5 simply blew me away.

Admittedly, I’m jumping into The Americans pool at the deep end. I’m not sure I know all the characters yet. I don’t have their history and connections. Still, the episode offered a few entry points. There’s an early great montage about food and agriculture in Russia. Also, the writers dedicate a handful of excellent scenes to Elizabeth (Russell) and Phillip (Rhys) dealing with their daughter Paige’s (Holly Taylor) awareness of their “job.” Finally, the episode ends in a fascinatingly long sequence as a mission eventually goes somewhat wrong.

Final Verdict

The Americans offers a tense, dramatic Season 5 pilot full of resonance beyond its central conceit. To fans of the series, this is nothing new. To new viewers, I’ll tell you that the episode absolutely worked for me. It made me want to go back and start from the beginning – the highest praise given that’s a full four seasons. So, can it win the Emmy next September? Absolutely. It has as much of a shot as The Crown or Stranger Things, two of the hottest new properties gunning for nominations. My advice to the uninitiated – get on board now. I suspect the Television Academy is already doing so as we speak.

The Americans airs Tuesday nights on FX at 10pm ET.

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