Is it your birthday? Congratulations. You’ve been given one of the amazing showbiz gifts we all long for. A unicorn, if you will – when art becomes life and everyone’s super happy about it.
Last night the Paley Centre celebrated the 10th anniversary of The Americans, which seems both too soon and too long ago.
For me, and for many other fans of the show, The Americans sits in that liminal space of being criminally underrated and under-acknowledged, but also as a result remained ‘our’ secret, and people who love it really, really love it. To me it goes in the same pile as Big Love, in the sense of also-ran shows that, had they premiered at a different time or on a different network, would have been exponentially bigger deals.
For the uninitiated, The Americans is the story of Philip and Elizabeth, played by Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, two undercover KBG agents who pose as a regular married couple with kids, to fool everyone including their CIA-agent neighbour, Noah Emmerich.
It’s beloved and underrated, and the stars and showrunners have consistently made it clear they have a mutual admiration society.
Thank you to everyone who attended our #PaleyLive event for the 10th Anniversary Reunion of @TheAmericansFX moderated by @Variety_Cynthia, featuring the cast and creative team @MatthewRhys @NoahEmmerich Keri Russell @joel_fields @joeweisberg https://t.co/i3vAz79mib #TheAmericans pic.twitter.com/vas6t9d0eC— PaleyCenter (@paleycenter) April 13, 2023
But the showbiz birthday present part? That’s Rhys and Russell, who did such an incredible job playing two spies whose sham marriage eventually turned into a genuine love for one another, that they… fell in love in real life. And live together. In Brooklyn. With their blended family. I KNOW.
They remain cute and under the radar, but also not unaware of how beloved they are, I think? Which makes it palatable-er? Look at her glam team’s post of them leaving the house to go to the event! Delightful! Beautiful, but not overdone – and, by virtue of Rhys clutching his charging cable in his fist, definitely not concerned with perfect images and pictures…
On the surface this may sound like just so much fawning over pet celebs and their love, and look, there’s a touch of that in here, sure. But I think what fuels that is knowing these two connected on a project that was great, even if nobody saw it – and that kind of tells you more about who they are*? Would they have had such a strong and profound bond if they’d met on, say, Mission Impossible 3?
These days Matthew Rhys is Perry Mason, and Keri Russell is about to star in The Diplomat, a political thriller series on Netflix – but if you missed The Americans, go back and let yourself be seduced. It never had discourse, so you won’t miss anything going back now, and the rich and dark complicated stories are satisfying in a chewy, dense way we often forget we need. Plus, Frank Langella! Character actress Margo Martindale! MARTHA! (IYKYK)
Attached – a couple of action shots from the panel discussion. When actors beam this much while talking about a show, it’s because they actually enjoyed it so much they can’t not. Prove me wrong…!
(*For further discussion along this vein, see also Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons connecting on Fargo, Season 2 after playing a similarly complicated couple.)