Nothing important has happened in geopolitics since the last season of “The Americans,” has it? Oh not much, just an ongoing scandal about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to benefit Donald Trump. Same old, same old.
Season five of “The Americans” returns tonight, March 7, in the midst of this controversy, so where this series about Soviet spies undermining the United States from within once seemed like a throwback to the conflicts of yesteryear, it now feels like an eerie prequel to our 21st century reality. And that isn’t lost on critics, who say that the series is “as timely as ever” in its fifth season.
But the lucky parallels with modern world politics — or unlucky, depending on your perspective — aren’t the only things that make “The Americans” worth watching. Multiple critics call it the “best show on television.” It’s “dizzying,” “not to be missed,” and has “unparalleled depth.” As of this writing the show has scored a remarkable 92 on MetaCritic, which makes it the year’s most critically acclaimed scripted show so far.
And last year the Emmys finally took notice in a bigger way, nominating it for the first time for Best Drama Series, Best Drama Actor (Matthew Rhys) and Best Drama Actress (Keri Russell). Can real-life current events bring it even more attention and recognition? Check out some of the reviews below, and make sure to discuss this and more in our TV forum.
Allison Keene (Collider): “How does the best show on television get even better in its new season? Well, it doesn’t really have to. Though ‘The Americans’ has steadily gotten more intense and more nuanced with each passing season, Season 5 starts off quietly (relatively), with the confidence of a show that knows what it is, what it wants to say, and can benefit from years of setup.”
James Poniewozik (The New York Times): “If television’s best drama finally gets the buzz it deserves because evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election served as viral marketing — well, as Comrade Trotsky once said, ‘The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.'”
Ellen Gray (Philadelphia Daily News): “I’ve said before that ‘The Americans’ makes its fans complicit in the treachery of these spies we can’t help but like. But what makes it one of the best shows on television — besides scenes like the last 10 minutes of Tuesday’s episode, which are not to be missed — is its ability to show us ourselves as others see us. Dizzying as that view might be, it’s as timely as ever.”
Ben Travers (IndieWire): “Unparalleled depth can be felt throughout thanks to this careful layering, and Season 5 so far effortlessly captures a complex range of emotions that proves more enriching with every extra minute of consideration. Tension rises and falls with rapidity, even though the ever-present risk keeps things constantly taut.”
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums.