Vodka, Parenting and KGB Tactics: The Producers of ‘The Americans’ Talk

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Left to Right, The Americans Producers, Graham Yost, Darell Frank and Justin Falvey, photo by Lady Victoria Irwin

Left to Right, The Americans Producers, Graham Yost, Darell Frank and Justin Falvey, photo by Lady Victoria Irwin

Armed with fuzzy hats, Cold War-themed cocktails and their wits, the Producers of FX’s hit TV show The Americans sat down at Nic’s Vodka Bar in Beverly Hills, CA to discuss the ins and outs of one show that is soon to be talked about everywhere.

In 2010, the United States Department of Justice released reports that a Russian spy ring had been discovered and disbanded in the Eastern Seaboard. With arrests in Virginia, New York and Boston, it became quite plausible that Russian spies might be even our neighbors. Enter 20th Century Fox’s suspenseful thriller, The Americans. Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) and her husband Phillip (Matthew Rhys) seem to be a completely normal suburban couple in the 1980’s. They have a loving family and also a secret; the two are lethal KGB agents plotting to bring down The United States of America. Struggling to keep their true identities hidden, the two find their measures becoming more and more extreme as the tension heats up between the United States and Russia during the Cold War. When an FBI agent moves in across the street, a whole new level of hunter and prey comes to the forefront.

Written by former CIA member, Joseph Weisberg (Falling Skies, Damages), the show rings with both authenticity and an amazing 1980’s soundtrack.  “It’s the anatomy of a marriage masquerading as a spy show,” Producer Darryl Frank (Las Vegas, Falling Skies) commented. This includes the difficulties of parenting, alongside the dangers of being a KGB agent. “What the Sopranos did for the mob, we do for the spy community.”

“The ‘80’s weren’t just about shoulder pads and bad hair,” Executive Producer Graham Yost (Justified, Speed) joked. “There was a lot going on there.” From President Ronald Reagan being shot, to the use of Intellivision, the show covers a good chunk of the culture and history of 1980’s America. The music is one such portion. “The big opening set piece had been designed  with Tusk by Fleetwood Mac in mind. We didn’t know if we loved or hated it,” the producers admitted. “After we watched it again, we loved it.”

photo by Lady Victoria Irwin

photo by Lady Victoria Irwin


And then you have some  moments, like Keri Russell doing some serious ass-kicking “Felicity knocking a guy’s head into the drywall!” Frank said proudly. When communicating with the stunt double, Frank revealed that he asked Russell that, “when you do it, really just do it so I don’t have to do it twice.” “The stories are smaller and more nuanced with serves itself well to a character driven TV show.”

The producers of The Americans love their show, and even have a few ideas for spy gadgets of their own. “If you could replicate perfectly someones voice box; you would need 30 seconds of someone’s voice,” Producer Justin Falvey (United States of Tara, Falling Skies) commented. “How do you know if that’s actually the person you’re talking to.”  Producer Darryl Frank opted for a hyperspace button. “If a car was coming towards you, you could just hit it and go to a different place.”

Pinko Commies never looked so good, photo by Lady Victoria Irwin

Cold War One, photo by Lady Victoria Irwin

The question remains, however, are we supposed to root for the KGB which most American’s have been told to identify as “the bad guys.” How does Joseph Weisberg answer this? “I hope you root for the marriage.”

The Americans is available on Blu-Ray and DVD February 11, 2014.


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