BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — For FX’s “The Americans,” there are two seasons, 23 episodes, and one important date with destiny left. That date is Sept. 18, and that destiny is now in the warm/cold embrace of the Emmys. Not to be too melodramatic, but this is a drama after all (so . . . ).
The Emmys: What is it about this statue that pretty much everyone in television covets, but few actually get? That’s another post for another day (and don’t hold your breath waiting for it), but what is it about “The Americans” that has taken so long for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to finally recognize its excellence?
The FX series has been nominated in five major categories for the 68th annual Emmys: outstanding lead actress (Keri Russell), lead actor (Matthew Rhys), guest actress (Margo Martindale), writing (for the episode “Persona Non Grata”) and outstanding drama.
That’s the total number of nods it received over its first three seasons and — I kid you not — three of those were for Martindale (for outstanding guest actress). She’s a great actress and always has been.
“The Americans” is in fact one of the best dramas on television — an exploration of history, identity, spycraft, the Cold War, marriage, family and wigs (oh, the wigs). The academy also largely has ignored it over the first three seasons, as you have now deduced, costing it a broader viewership and perhaps even longevity. (This series ends two seasons from now. The fifth, coming early next spring, will be 13 episodes. The final one will have 10.)
To some extent, professional TV critics have been behind this late-blooming success story. Influential ones, such as Tim Goodman (The Hollywood Reporter) and Alan Sepinwall (Hitfix), have been clamoring for “Americans” acclaim since the first minute of the first season. Many others have as well. But critics are just “critics” — voices in the wilderness, or at least voices in the Grand Ballroom of Beverly Hilton, where the biannual TV Critics Tour is now entombed.
What about Emmy voters, and their final determination to catapult this series to its rightful place?
By the way, “The Americans” just Saturday received the Television Critics Association’s — TCA — award for outstanding achievement in drama.
Et tu, Emmys?
But forget critics. Moms are what matters in life, and Joel Fields — who created “The Americans” along with former CIA officer Joe Weisberg — had this to say Tuesday during the TV Critics Tour about the show’s sudden Emmys nomination bounty: “First of all, personally I think my mother is in the room. Mom, are you here somewhere? She’s here somewhere. I know she’s here. And my mother was married in this room in 1959, and so to be here talking about the Emmy nomination for this show, it’s quite something, on a personal level. And it’s something else. It’s been such a wonderful journey, and every year we’ve been able to say that there is no bitterness, because we’re so grateful for these incredible actors and this incredible show.
“But it sure feels nice to be nominated. And the big one [best drama] feels especially nice, because it’s a nomination for everyone. It is such an incredible team of artists, actors, production designers, directors and writers who work together. It just seems wonderful to have that.”
Weisberg did not dispute the assessment, saying: “Yeah. I agree with all that, except my mother is not in the room. . . . I had this experience a lot on the show: Joel and I together would go [on the] set or somewhere, and someone on the crew would come up to us, and they’ll say, you know, ‘I just want you guys to know, I love working on this show’ . . . and suddenly, all the work that we do and all the time means something.”
Those Emmys? Yep, they mean a little more.