FX's Americans Wants You to 'Root For the KGB'

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The Americans Season 1 SpoilersThe big question at the center of FX’s forthcoming cold war drama The Americans: Who are viewers supposed to root for — the U.S. government or the undercover married Russian spies played by Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell?

“We want you to root for the KGB,” exec producer Joe Weisberg told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena, before nodding to Russell and Rhys, “Don’t you want [Elizabeth and Philip] to succeed?”

Weisberg adds that the series benefits from being set in the ’80s. “I think if you tried to tell a story like this right now about Al Qaeda, it’d be completely impossible,” he reasons. “I think enough time has passed that people are willing to look into their hearts and see them as real people.”

RELATED | Margo Martindale Joins The Americans as [Spoiler]

Other key takeaways from the panel:

* Rhys said Russell’s dance background “lent itself perfectly to kicking a man’s head through a wall,” referring to one of the premiere’s more violent sequences. He later admitted that her character “scares the s–t out of me.”

* The ’80s cars “are fine as long as you start turning [the wheel] a good week before you have to turn,” laughed Rhys.

* Flashbacks, which are a big part of the first two episodes, will be inserted “as the story dictates,” notes Weisberg. Adds fellow EP Joe Fields: “It’s an opportunity to explore character-deepening stuff.”

The Americans debuts Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 10/9c on FX.

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Comments (31)

  • With how whack and crazy the US government and intelligence agency is, I expect in 40 years when the CIA releases sealed documents this show will be mentioned.

    Comment by SanaA – January 9, 2013 11:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Root for the KGB? This show is definitely not for me!

    Comment by katrina – January 9, 2013 11:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • This show doesn’t want to you watch either. Better yet stop commenting on anything related.

      Comment by Hojana – January 10, 2013 10:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • almost in before the idiots who wont watch this because Murica is not portrayed in the best light. its a tv show you idiots, grow up. sometimes americans can be the bad guys too

    Comment by Alan – January 9, 2013 12:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The problem isn’t necessarily America being portrayed in a bad light. Turning one of history’s most evil groups into the “good guys” or protagonist is asinine. Hollywood loves to do that. I really wish these producers could spend a few weeks in a totalitarian regime as a normal citizen. Their worldview might be shaken just a little.

      Comment by katrina – January 9, 2013 06:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Sorry I cannot buy Keri Russell in this role at all..

    Comment by Amanda – January 9, 2013 12:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You should watch her first before judging. Thats like me thinking you are a horrible person based on that comment. Its unfair.

      Comment by Russ – January 9, 2013 03:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • i couldnt buy heath ledger as the joker when it was first announced and we all know how that turned out. im not saying she is definitely going to be brilliant but at least give her the chance to surprise you

      Comment by Alan – January 9, 2013 03:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Interesting! I will definitely check it out since it will be replacing American Horror Story on Wednesdays

    Comment by tvaddict – January 9, 2013 12:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Can’t wait for this!

    Comment by Lauren – January 9, 2013 12:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Definitely going to give this a try. Sounds like an interesting premise!

    Comment by Michelle – January 9, 2013 12:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Anyone who thinks a show in which we should be routing for the KGB is a goid thing, obviously has the historical memory and knowledge of a gnat.

    Comment by Dan – January 9, 2013 01:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Amen! The KGB were utterly ruthless to men, women, and children. Russian citizens who inadvertently got in the way weren’t exempt from punishment. It sucks when Hollywood rewrites history!

      Comment by katrina – January 9, 2013 05:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • you must have a lot of problems with the majority of fictional works, then.

      Comment by A – January 12, 2013 10:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s a TV show. Don’t take the rooting (not routing) for the KGB stuff seriously. I’m fascinated by Cold War stuff, so I’ll be giving this a try.

    But, seriously, 1980s cars require you to start turning about a week before the turn? Uh, there was power steering even way back then in the olden days, junior.

    Comment by MC Maine – January 9, 2013 01:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Making our government the bad guys is the easy target these days. I’m not interested in watching a show that tries to make the bad guys heroes. It’s the same reason people didn’t watch Lonestar a season or two ago, the hero is a man who cheats on his wife? No, thanks. We need more heroes and fewer anti-heroes, as the pendulum has swung too far in that direction.

    Comment by Bella – January 9, 2013 01:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • its not trying to rewrite history or make anyone look like the bad guys, its just trying to provide a different perspective on on a well documented time in history. i wasnt interested in this show until i read this article because i was convinced it was just more of the same, now that i know they are actually taking a risk i might give it a go

      Comment by Alan – January 9, 2013 01:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think the show will portray the spies as not “black and white” meaning one of them may succumb to American values etc. if that makes sense. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them defected to the U.S.

    Comment by Lauren – January 9, 2013 01:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • thats exactly what i was thinking too. to me this sounds like they are trying to make the characters more well developed rather than the cookie cutter stuff we get from most spy shows

      Comment by Alan – January 9, 2013 02:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Yeah like the parents in the movie “Little Nikita” nothing was “black and white” with them because they had a son so. I thinking having children is what may make this a lot more interesting….it was recently with “Elementary”

        Comment by Lauren – January 9, 2013 02:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Are people really complaining about the show’s point of view? From a storytelling perspective, I’m all for this different twist. There are 50 shows on at any given time from the point of view of the American government and/or law enforcement. Why is it a bad thing differentiating itself by presenting it from the KGB’s side? No one’s saying you have to turn in your citizenship to enjoy the story.

    Comment by Brooke – January 9, 2013 02:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • thank you voice of reason

      Comment by Alan – January 9, 2013 02:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Love your post!

      Comment by Lauren – January 9, 2013 03:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agreed!!! People get so up in arms…calm down…and give it a shot…

      Comment by Rebecca – January 9, 2013 05:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I wish I could upvote/like this comment.

      Comment by Spencer – January 11, 2013 12:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Cue the Tea Party demanding the producers be deported in 3…2…1…

    Comment by B – January 9, 2013 03:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think what the producers meant is for you to root for the story. Just because they are the “bad guys” doesn’t mean that they don’t wholeheartedly believe what they are doing is right. I think they want the audience to open up and look at it as a complete story, not just “good guys” vs. “bad guys,” because ultimately we’ve all been the “bad guy” at some point while thinking we were the “good guy.”

    Comment by dq18 – January 9, 2013 03:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I was really skeptical about this show when I first heard about it (even though Im a fan of Keri Russell) and wasn’t sure if I would watch but surprisingly last weeks episode of Elementary (which was about a woman who was a Russian spy in the U.S. and was killed) got me really excited about it because I was really wanting to know about the families life before the murder by the end of the episode…So the producers should be thankful to the Elementary writers because without them I might not have been a viewer.

    Comment by Billy – January 9, 2013 04:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t see what the big problem is here. The producers are just telling you to root for the main characters, as with any show. SURE, the biggest problem for some in this case is that the two main characters are KGB agents. But nobody is telling you to betray your country just by watching this show and supporting the cast. A good example: Many of us watch Dexter, a man who is even dubbed “America’s favourite serial killer”. Is supporting Dexter and supporting serial killers in real life the same? No. It’s rather twisted when you think about it, but the fact is, a lot of the viewers of the show are still fans of Dexter, a serial killer. Nobody is telling you to support the KGB in real life. Just enjoy the show, and take it for what it is, entertainment.

    Comment by Mike – January 9, 2013 07:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. I totally want Dexter to get away with it! But in real life, I would not root for a serial killer to never be caught.

      Comment by Mikael – January 11, 2013 09:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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