The Americans was easily one of the greatest new dramas to burst onto the TV landscape in 2013. There is some well-deserved excitement and anticipation for its second season that based off the previews looks like it will serve up more compelling drama and intense action. Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) Jennings are a perfect example of the type of intriguing anti-heroes that can shine on cable television.
The thing that is often ignored is that the couple along with their two children are a near perfect example and symbol of the Great American TV family. Except for that whole being Russian spies thing and their marriage largely being a cover, of course.
Here is some proof that despite sometimes being near villains on this show that the Jennings can be a pretty strong representation of families in America.
I realize not all Americans are gun crazy. A pretty huge portion of the country doesn’t own a gun. There are many that fight for the right to hold firearms. Most of the world outside of the United States will often equate the country with the ability to own a gun.
Boy oh boy, do the Jennings embrace the ownership of guns. They’ve had a wide assortment of different guns that they own and have carried. Even more importantly, they know how to use those guns. Of course, if they don’t have a gun handy they’re just as good at using knives, fists, feet, poison, and blunt objects.
2. Both Parents Work
By the 1980s, women were flooding the work place. The American lifestyle also made it that in order to afford things people wanted that both needed to hold down jobs. It is also starting to become common that a married couple works together. Jennings prove to follow the new American family model by not just both working but running a travel agency together.
2. Hold Down Two Jobs
During tough economic times, a couple may need to pull in a second line of work to make ends meet. During the day they run their travel agency company and then at night work hard causing headaches for FBI agents as Russian spies.
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If you list some of the all-time favorite TV families then you’ll likely realize some of the most iconic had their shows start in the ’80s like the Huxtables, the Keatons, and the Conners. It is perfect that the Jennings are set in the 1980s as well. Nothing says the Great American family like playing Ms. Pacman and listening to Peter Gabriel.
5. Battle to Make the Marriage Work
Despite what romantic comedies have been trying to tell us for decades, love can be hard work. Anyone who has been married for several years knows you’ve got to put in a lot of effort to maintain love and keep the marriage a happy one. Once you have kids, there is a lot more at stake in making sure things remain smooth and harmonious.
Jennings have had their problems. Philip has had to spend several weeks at a hotel. He even may be occupied with another sham marriage. If we’ve learned anything from several musical montage and close-up shots of a sad face, we know Philip and Elizabeth really do love each other. They’ve made countless attempts to make the marriage work and to create a passion for each other. Fighting for a marriage especially one that wasn’t really intended to be real is both noble and very American.
6. Not Trusting Strangers
One of the bits of advice that still sticks in my head that my mother told me was to not talk to strangers. It was also a bit of advice that was all over after-school TV specials in the 1980s. It is rather fitting that this lesson has been learned by the whole Jennings family. The children had their own foray with a creepy young man that they got away from with a well-connected beer bottle shot. The parents may talk to the occasional stranger but they are most definitely careful in not trusting them. Actually, they usually just decide to kill them, which appears to be the safer route though a bad way to make new friends.
7. Date Nights
Any good family knows that the married couple needs date nights to keep things interesting and passionate. The Jennings have dates together almost every night. They often go over to their FBI neighbors for nice dinners, but of course, that isn’t really dating. They also spend special nights away from the kids too. Of course, instead of going to a movie or having a fancy dinner, they usually spend quality time stuffing rogue agents in car trunk and beating answers out of rivals. It is the time spent that counts, right?
The Jennings may not appear to be the typical American family. After all, they only got married as a way to sneak into the US and be effective Russian spies. But if you can look past that, then you really do see a great and loving family. If you can’t see past that, then you can at least still enjoy one of the most action packed and engaging dramas on TV.
The Americans premieres February 26 at 10pm on FX.
(Image courtesy of FX)