A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The Americans paints the world -- or at least the nation's capital of the 1980s -- as a treacherous place teeming with spies and ulterior motives, and there are complex messages at play when it comes to duty, loyalty, and patriotism. In an interesting twist, it also has viewers sympathizing with "bad guys" who are working against the United States.
Positive Role Models
The main characters are the very definition of duplicitous, and while their love for their children is genuine, their feelings for each other are much murkier. Deception is literally a way of life, and they're even required to be unfaithful to each other when the need arises.
Violence & Scariness
Blood is kept to a minimum, but violence is a regular part of the plot and includes shootings and stabbings in addition to hand-to-hand combat and physical threats.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexually-charged kissing with some implied intercourse (including oral sex) that leaves little to the imagination. Women sometimes appear in lingerie (with the top of the buttocks visible, for example).
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Audible language includes "s--t," "pissed," and "ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some smoking and social drinking, although most characters don't overindulge.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Americans is as much about the moral complications of married relationships as it is about political espionage, so it's a better fit for adults and mature teens. Sexual content isn't constant, but when it pops up things can get pretty steamy, with suggested nudity and implied intercourse (including oral sex) that leaves little to the imagination. There's also unbleeped swearing ("s--t" is audible) and occasional social drinking and smoking, although characters rarely drink to excess.
Is It Any Good?
Created and executive produced by a former CIA agent, The Americans not only takes on a complicated topic but also asks viewers to do something they normally wouldn't: root for the "bad guys" (in this case, Russian spies). Back in the '80s, when Cold War tensions were coming to a head, a show that pushed a pair of KGB agents as protagonists would never have aired on American TV. But 30 years later, with the Iron Curtain lifted, it's a very different world -- and America has very different enemies.
So the concept is certainly intriguing -- and the bad '80s fashion is often amusing. Rhys and Russell make a pretty good team, too, stirring up strains of '80s TV duos like Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Hart to Hart, albeit much darker. But in the end, The Americans isn't as successful as it could be, thanks to flashbacks that feel less than real and choppy plots that make the action hard to follow. It's not the best choice for family viewing either.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.