The 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.”
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.