Yahoo! TV Q&A with 'The Americans' showrunners: Real-life CIA alum created the series, which features real-life political drama
Fans of FX's newest must-see drama, "The Americans," prepare for a twist in tonight's new episode, "Gregory." No spoilers, but suffice it to say that we learn something very surprising about how one-half of undercover KGB spy couple Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings has coped with the complicated double life the couple has been leading while posing as American suburbanites.
Watch a preview of "Gregory":
And for viewers who haven't yet jumped into the emotional, action-packed drama, a two-episode marathon is all you need to catch up and delve into tonight's third installment, which is the best example yet of the show's ability to blend tense, spy-thriller plots with the evolving relationship of Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Phillip (Matthew Rhys), whose KGB-arranged marriage (with kids) has, after 15 years, started to become a real romance.
That "real" concept is one that pervades every aspect of the show, from the couple's relationship and the historical figures and events that pop up throughout the first season to the fact that series creator Joe Weisberg is a former CIA agent. Weisberg's experiences lend authenticity to Jennings's spy work, like surveillances and secret exchanges.
"That's one of the great things about what Joe created … it is dense in a rich way, not in a boring way, we hope, because it's just an exciting show," says Weisberg's co-showrunner, writer and producer Joel Fields. "There are just so many levels to it. Personally and then the espionage stuff. Action-wise and then the international relations stuff, and the values stuff. It's just really rich material."
Fields isn't kidding about the density of the episodes, including a pilot episode that necessarily included a lot of storyline setup, but rewarded viewers with a second episode that quickly moved into more action and development of the characters and the central relationships in the series. Ratings for the second installment, which dropped off by 39 percent from the series premiere in live viewership, increased a record 58 percent in time-shifted viewings, suggesting that fans appreciate the assumption that they'll keep coming back for well-written, well-acted, tightly plotted dense episodes.
Watch a recap of Episode 1:
With tonight's terrific installment and a Feb. 20 episode that will revolve around the 1981 assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan on the way, Weisberg and Fields talked to Yahoo! TV about how the Jennings's marriage and careers will develop as the season moves forward, how they approach the challenge of making a pair of Cold War-era Russian spies relatable, and how they're giving us stealth history lessons in episodes like next week's "In Control."