Jun. 14th, 2016

proximoception: (Default)
Been watching The Americans, second stab thereat. Season 1 got okay, but nothing much past the popcorn level - it was mostly invested in excitement and seemed too worried that people would stop following the plot if it took any real character or thematic risks. Many wince-inducing signs point to its being originally intended as a Breaking Bad knockoff (the FBI guy as its Hank etc.), underneath its facade and its bemusing spouses-are-spies metaphor. Latter is pretty much as silly as True Blood's homosexuals-are-vampires one, though not as ethically alarming. They're veering away from it so far in season 2 but I have the feeling it will be back, with luck with a steadier purpose. In season 1 spouses are spies ... on each other, or together against the world, or are double agents etc etc. The amount of investment in the analogy was the one really distinctive thing about the show, but there was no clear payoff.

The direction, acting, and writing get way better in 2, and seem to be still improving where we're at (2.5). I'm not quite sure I'd call the show good, but at least I'm no longer sure I wouldn't. Maybe I'm missing stuff, though. My brain's no longer in a place where it unpacks (or conceivably creates) subtext automatically. But I think I still catch some of the bigger things. They're starting to make the recurring characters embody different "curves" of ethical positions and to make all the guests foils for the leads in quieter ways, starting to delay explanations etc. A vein of legitimate humor popped up here and there in the first season and is more assured now.

So maybe people are right that it's viable. I'd be more comvinced if they hadn't been already saying that about the first season, and weren't mostly the same people who said it about (e.g.) Homeland. Though they were at last right about Deadwood, which had an even worse initial handful of episodes than The Americans. I'm probably spoiled from all the bolt-from-heaven shows that have been popping up lately, but of course those too are untrustworthy - think True Detective. We'll all shortly see about Mr. Robot, though that threw out so much of the playbook that one holds out hope that SOME kind of vision's sustaining it.

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