Reader reviews: What YOU thought of The Americans

The new Homeland or a missed opportunity? Here's what you tuned-in telly watchers had to say about ITV's new US drama The Americans


ITV’s new glossy US export landed in the UK this Saturday. Much anticipated and ambitiously called ‘the new Homeland’, did The Americans live up to the hype?


We’ve read your reviews and it seems the verdict is still out. Here’s what you had to say…

Laura Dew, 23, Uxbridge, says…

The new Homeland. Full of double lives and doublecrossing with acres of potential and unanswered questions. Are they even married? Does the neighbour know? Will Phillip take the £3m offered? There were some nice touches too such as the vodka shot and the references to the space race to subtly remind us of the Russian links without hammering it home. 
It’s also good, similar to Carrie Mathison in Homeland, to see a strong female character calling the shots. Elizabeth Jennings seems far more brutal, decisive and loyal to her country than her so-called husband. The scene where she doesn’t attend the school assembly and her husband struggles to sing the National Anthem was particularly touching and highlighted further the differences between them and their children.
 My only niggling criticism would be the distinct lack of any decent Russian accent, even in the Russian scenes! The two actors certainly sound like Americans born and bred without so much of a Russian slight.

James Davies, 36, London, says…

The Americans = massive let-down. Like most other spy fans, I had been looking forward to this US import all week, but I’m afraid this was a case of don’t believe the hype.  Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings were unbelievable as a couple let alone KGB spies outwitting every top brass at the CIA!  The over glossy production had been aligned with the critically acclaimed Golden Globe winning hit TV show Homeland. Two words best describe this ‘Different League!’ against my better judgement, alarm bells should ring when I read ITV rather than Sky Atlantic, BBC4 or Channel 4. The comedy elements held the show back, but matched the tacky kitchen and acting at least! and although the music used throughout set the scene from the period, it seemed to stop flow making it impossible to take seriously.  With the dramatic recent events surrounding sexpot spy Anna Chapman an alleged Russian femme fatale caught in 2010, the script had already been written to an explosive current day blockbuster, but someone at the production company forgot to read it. A missed opportunity.    

Ryan Pollard, 20, Marsden, says…

At first, I was expecting The Americans to be an inferior Homeland-style rip off. But, after the first episode, I take back those comments. The Americans is a sharply directed and tense espionage drama that is filled with 80’s nostalgia, uncompromising violence, and troubled anti-heroes. Whereas most US dramas literally shows the Americans as the heroes on the piece, you never really know who’s side is right or wrong in The Americans, and that’s all down to the intelligently brilliant script. It’s full of sharp dialogue and elaborate metaphors, and that’s all fuelled by standout performances from Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, who’s arranged couple is forever trapped in a lie because of their love of their own country. Whereas Phillip is trying to build a future with his new family, Elizabeth is constantly trapped in her past and can’t escape it. The Americans is a mature, darkly engrossing piece of genre fiction that further shows why television is a writer’s medium.

Jenna Burns, 18, Stranraer, says…

The Americans was very intriguing, the action scenes intense enough to make me flinch from the screen. From the very beginning, with a character’s sly removal of a blonde wig, I was hooked. The deception surrounding Russian spies long integrated into the apparent ordinary ‘American family’ was thoughtfully explored.

That being said, while the lead couple are seemingly cold, calculating spies, they do make some bizarre choices: Having sex in a car wanted by the FBI after disposing of a body? Really? Not to mention their suspicious, FBI-involved neighbour, who actually recognises said car, breaks into their garage and then…shrugs it off? Come on, now. Nevertheless, I did enjoy watching this, niggling ‘flaws’ aside. I liked the use of music throughout, most noticeably Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’.

‘The Americans’ opening episode did not have the ‘wow factor’ but it was promising. I look forward to seeing it develop.

Beccy Westran, 44, Nottingham, says…

I have just finished watching The Americans and this has to be one of the best things that I’ve seen in a long time and that’s a real compliment as there are some good drama’s on TV at the moment.

I love the fact that it’s set in the 80’s and it’s so different from anything else we’ve seen.The main characters played by Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are utterly believable. It left me feeling that I’d just seen a really good movie….and we get to do it for the next 13 weeks and what’s more there’s another series coming next year.

After just one episode I’m hooked, well done ITV, we needed something like this after Broadchurch.

So all in all I liked it, can you tell?


A big thank you to everyone who sent in a review – we really enjoyed reading them! If you’ve got a taste for sharing your opinion, or these clever Radio Times readers have inspired you to put pen to paper (or, more accurately, fingertips to keyboard) keep your eyes peeled for the next Radio Times Reader Review….