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What 'The Americans' has taught us about KGB

FX has ordered Season 2, so here's what we've learned thus far about '80s espionage

By Kenny Herzog Feb 21, 2013 4:48PM

Thank goodness for "Louie" and "Justified." We can only assume their success explains FX's vote of confidence in "The Americans," which was granted a second season today despite fledgling ratings.


Of course, it's a mystery to us why the Keri Russell-starring, early 1980s-staged Cold War thriller has struggled to hold an audience. As we've delineated in our weekly recaps, "The Americans" boasts the coolest music, steadiest performances and most fascinating recent-history recreation of any new show on TV. 

And it's also provided us with some valuable insights about the life of KGB moles on American soil circa 1981. Chief among them:

  • Brainwashed Communists-in-suburban-moms' clothing hate it when their kids' teachers instill Western ideas, but sure love them a pair of high-waist Guess? denim. 
  • Adultery isn't merely tolerated, it's an encouraged part of the job. And typically with super-sexy partners. If you're the male spy at least.
  • Following the "Arlington Road" rule of domestic terrorism, if you're hiding out in a typical residential neighborhood while plotting America's undoing, a lawman or professor with intimate knowledge of infidel strategy and motive to disrupt it will inevitably move in next door.
  • OK, that last insight is up for debate.
  • You're constantly operating at the whim of nebulous government leaders perched thousands of miles away, without so much as a social-media connection to monitor whether their values still feel kindred to your own. 
  • But, you get to play with really cool analog spy equipment that's way more juicy and hands-on than all those "Homeland" hidden cameras.
  • Maybe they should have just held out for Reaganomics after all. KBG pay kind of stinks.
"The Americans" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX. And don't forget to check in with our Recaps blog every Wednesday after each episode for the five things we learned that week.
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