While the clever spy duo on the FX drama “The Americans” can outwit just about anybody, they haven’t quite figured out one group yet: Emmy voters. However, that could all change with the recently concluded third season. Below, five reasons why this compelling period piece will reap major bids this year.
1. Timing and positioning
New rules see the Best Drama Series category expanding from six to seven nominees starting this year. Had there been seven slots in its first two seasons, “The Americans” would most likely have made the cut. Only four of last year’s six nominees are still in contention “Downton Abbey,” “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” and “Mad Men” (winner “Breaking Bad” and “True Detective” are both gone). Even if “Orange is the New Black” makes a successful transition from the comedy side, that still leaves two slots open.
2. Rave reviews and critical support
Third season reviews on Metascore sit at a lofty 92. Brian Lowry of Variety called it the “best” and “most satisfying” season yet. Other critics offered such praise as “the best show on television” (Vox.com), “new creative heights” (Hollywood Reporter), and “every season gets more complicated, and is all the better for it” (New York Times). It reaped four Critics’ Choice TV nominations: Best Drama Series, leads Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell and guest star Lois Smith.
3. Secrets are spilling out everywhere
Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Rhys and Russell) are two long-embedded Russian spies living in America. They have thrived on nobody knowing about their secret identities, but a major third season arc forces them to reveal all to their teenage daughter Paige (Holly Taylor). The brisk storytelling pace set by that mid-season revelation provided A+ performances from everybody involved. The season ends with the daughter confessing those sins to her pastor over the phone, setting up a powerful fourth season next spring.
4. The rise of the anti-hero
The anti-hero as a leading character on television began with “The Sopranos” at the start of this century. That lead to many villainous and morally questionable central characters on such Emmy-nominated shows as “Big Love,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Boston Legal,” “Breaking Bad,” “Damages,” “Deadwood,” “Dexter,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Good Wife,” “House,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men,” and “24.” Philip and Elizabeth are two such characters on a show that actually asks its audience to root for Russian spies during the Cold War.
5. Emmy voters love period pieces
Set in the early 1980s, the show boasts top-notch costumes, makeup, hair, production design, and music. Emmy voters have embraced other period pieces over the years. “Mad Men” won this category four straight years (2008-2011). Other recent nominees in this top category have included “Boardwalk Empire,” “Deadwood,” and “Downton Abbey.”
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