4. The Americans
The Americans hasn’t gotten a lot of love by awards panels, but FX’s action-oriented espionage drama is one of the strangest programs to ever grace our television screens. Joe Weisberg’s drama is a lot of things—it’s a period drama and a spy thriller, a family story and a fish out of water tale. The program about two KGB agents gathering information in American suburbs during the Cold War era should be enough to suck any cable subscriber into one episode of the drama, but doubtless people will stay for the slew of excellent performers, including Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich, Margo Martindale and Annet Mahendru.

The first few episodes of Season 1 set The Americans up to be a drama that was very much focused on spy intel, with a nice side helping of relationship problems. However, as the weeks wore on, the familial issues of the Soviet Spy family The Jennings, as well as the FBI family the Beemans, became a satisfying and important addition to the series, making it a well-rounded family drama that asks its viewers to invest in moral grey areas and different philosophical viewpoints. The Americans would no doubt have been a fun supplement to FX’s schedule if it had only focused on spy gadgets and information gathering, but FX knew it didn’t need another Archer. Instead, the network gave us an intelligently crafted program with enough action and suspense to ask us to return each week.

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