How will ‘The Americans’ End? Q&A with the Creators Behind the Cold War Spy Drama

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Executive Producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields discuss their critically acclaimed show, ideology, and how technology is ushering in the golden era of television.
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“We all struggle with questions of our true identity, our identity with our loved ones, and our public personas,” says Joe Weisberg, the creator of FX’s cold-war drama The Americans, which begins its final season on March 28, in an exclusive interview with Reason’s Nick Gillespie. “In this final season, that all comes to a head for the characters, who have to deal with it in their careers as spies, challenging their loyalty to their family, but also testing it against their loyalty to one another in their marriage, and their loyalty to their country, and their core idealistic beliefs.”

Since 2013, The Americans has revisited 1980s America and Cold War politics with a depth and nuance usually reserved for PBS documentaries. The first season begins in the early Reagan years, when the Cold War seemed forever on the verge of escalating into nuclear war.

The show follows the lives of Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, two Soviet sleeper agents whose cover is running a travel agency in the Northern Virginia suburbs near Washington, D.C. Their days are spent booking vacation packages and schlepping kids to school, and their nights are filled with deadly honeypot espionage setups, betrayals by and of close associates, and thefts of state secrets. Complicating matters is the presence of Stan Beeman, their neighbor who just happen to be an FBI agent working to infiltrate Soviet spy rings in America.

The Americans is at once deeply serious and darkly comic, a domestic drama that plays out against the backdrop of the 20th century’s twilight struggle. Gillepie recently sat down with Weisberg and Joel Fields, an executive producer and one of its lead writers, to discuss the genesis and meaning of the series, their thoughts on the Cold War, how changing technology is leading to better television, and what we can expect from the series’ sixth and final season, which debuts on FX on March 28.

For a full transcript, links, and downloadable versions, visit: https://reason.com/reasontv/2018/03/26/the-americans

Interview by Gillespie. Produced and edited by Meredith Bragg.

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