The stars and co-creators of the TV show The Americans were on hand for a panel discussion and celebration at The Paley Center For Media last night, in honor of the ten year anniversary since the launch of the highly regarded series. The story, which featured Kerri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Russian spies living in the suburbs outside of D.C. and posing as an American family, ran for six seasons and was nominated for numerous Emmys and Golden Globes and Peabodys.
Co-Showrunners Joe Weisberg (a former CIA operative) and Joel Fields based the show on real events that culminated in 2010 when ten Russian agents who had been planted in the U.S. by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, and were posing as American citizens (some were even raising children here) were arrested. But Weisberg and Fields chose to set the fictional series in the 1980s during the Cold War to heighten the dramatic effect.
Noah Emmerich, who played the couple’s neighbor, who also happened to be an FBI agent working in counterintelligence, was also on hand for the celebration.
The discussion was moderated by veteran entertainment journalist Cynthia Littleton, Co-editor-in-Chief, at Variety. Littleton noted it was a time when a quality show like The Americans could still standout in the television landscape, before streaming services became the norm and have since inundated us all with too much mediocre fare to wade through.
The series was filmed in New York and featured many supporting roles by numerous beloved New York stage actors, including a brilliant run by actor Richard Thomas as an FBI “higher up” who doesn’t make it out alive. It had the reputation for being a positive environment for the cast and crew to work in, and stars Kerri Russell and Matthew Rhys (who have been a real-life couple since 2014) were credited for setting a down to earth tone, that was inclusive as well as collaborative.
The show feels particularly relevant once again now that Russia (and the war with Ukraine) is back in the news.