The premise of FX’s The Americans makes it sound like a show with a lot more tension than it actually holds. It’s centered around two KGB agents, living undercover in 80s suburbia (right next to a FBI agent, no less), trying simultaneously to fit into the white picket fence lifestyle and build a family and go on secret missions, completely unnoticed by their neighbours (and the American government, of course). Sounds like a 24-style high tension action series. But the reality is very different. Rather than focusing on the Russian-ness of the Jennings, the show focuses on the American-ness of everything else – the food, the neighbors, the culture.

It’s definitely a series with too faces and, while enough attention is paid to the weapons, kidnappings and espionage, ample screen time is also devoted to the Jennings’ daily life, their interaction with the neighbours, their children’s school lives. It is as much a portrayal of American life, as it is an exploration of Cold War era attitudes. In addition, the very structure of the first season makes it more watchable than most “high style” shows on TV these days. Like in a humble comedy, most of the plot twists get resolved within the show’s weekly hour, but there’s still enough of an overreaching story arch to keep things interesting over the course of the season. The Americans doesn’t shy away from the occasional cliffhanger, but it does so in a way that won’t keep you up at night. And, while that might not fly too well with the critics, it makes for a surprisingly and refreshingly light debut season. If you wanna play catchup, you can check out the trailer below.