You could make an argument that The Americans is the best show airing on television right now. I am not sure that I’d completely agree with it (I think Justified has more entertainment value, and Shameless and The Good Wife are also in the conversation), but I would agree that The Americans is the most thematically complex series on TV right now.
The Americans is slow-burning, layered, and complex, and I think it’s those elements that often make it feel inaccessible to some. However, I still believe that the FX series has Breaking Bad potential: A show that slowly picks up viewers until it nears its completion, and then everyone jumps on board by binge-watching five seasons before the finale.
But the slow-burning nature of the show also allows the huge, dramatic moments to have more of an impact. If there’s a death scene or someone gets burned alive or urinated on every week — like in Sons of Anarchy — you can begin to become numb to it. But the big moments in The Americans ring out like shotgun blasts.
Last season, for instance, the daughter in the show walked in on her parents in a full-on 69 position, which was envelope-pushing on any show, but on The Americans, it was jolting in the best, most surprising kind of way.
Last night’s episode, the second of the third season, had another one of those moments that would’ve been shocking to see on any show. However, in the slow-burning, tension-filled universe of The Americans, the tiny sounds of cracked bones felt loud enough to burst an ear drum.
I don’t want to reveal too much about the scene to those who haven’t caught up (or begun watching the series), but it involved Philip and Elizabeth disposing of a body that another man choked to death in last week’s episode. To do so, they decided to take the naked corpse — a former colleague of theirs — and fit her into a suitcase. However, they didn’t do so by cutting off her extremities and piling them on top of her torso. They did so by BREAKING HER BONES AND FOLDING HER ENTIRE BODY INTO THE SUITCASE.
I wish these GIFs could relay the true horror — the sound of bones breaking — that attended watching Philip and Elizabeth casually snap a corpse’s femur in half to fit her into the suitcase. It was truly one of the most casually chilling things I’ve ever seen on television.
I’m not suggesting that it’s the sole reason you should be watching The Americans, but you really should be watching The Americans.
As always, thanks to Chet Manley for the brilliant GIF work.