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.
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.
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.