The Americans TV Show

The Americans wrapped up its sixth and final season this week. All 10 episodes were terrific, and the finale episode was among the best finales I’ve ever seen in a television series.

There are dozens (spoilers) of nuanced analyses of the show in general, and the twists that await viewers in the season finale (spoilers) in particular.

I have two simple non-spoiler reflections — in addition to the obvious, which is to recommend the show.

First, I’ve read many good novels recently (Knausgaard, Murakami, Jennifer Egan, others). But the impact of a high quality TV series is still singular. A book can’t create heart-thumping suspense in the way a TV show can, especially the 75th hour of a TV show, as is the case in the multi-season dramas that have created the golden age of television that we find ourselves in.

Second, in an era of on-demand binge watching a lot of TV consumption occurs over a period of weeks or months, not years. For example, if I ever end up watching Mad Men, and I enjoy it, I’ll probably watch it over a period of 3-6 months.

With The Americans, I began watching it via iTunes shortly after it began airing on TV. So it’s been almost 5 years since I watched Season 1, Episode 1. That’s a long time ago. When characters and plot lines are allowed to marinate in your mind over 5 years, it has a different effect than when a show is bingewatched in months.

I’m not sure The Americans is my all-time favorite TV show. But it is in my top 5 or top 10, and may be the only show that I’ve watched in small doses for such a long period of time. That makes it unique. I won’t forget it.

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Other lesser known TV shows I wholeheartedly recommend: Goliath (Amazon streaming), Catastrophe (Amazon streaming), Insecure (HBO). Big Little Lies (HBO) and Friday Night Lights (NBC) are better known but also awesome.

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