United States flag, backlit

Of Streaming and Spies

United States flag, backlit

I’ll admit it. I’m late to binge-watching TV. Six months ago I didn’t understand why people would view all the episodes of a newly-dropped season over the course of a weekend. If you like the show so much, why don’t you stretch it out, savor it? I wondered.

That was before I had access to streaming television services. Now I have a couple of them, and I get it. By watching every installment during a compressed timeframe, you can really enter into the world constructed by the show. And right now my favorite world to inhabit is the one created by Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, showrunners for FX’s The Americans. (Fair warning, there are minor spoilers below.)

The Americans, now on hiatus after its fourth season, is the tale of two KGB spies in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. in the 1980s. Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell (in a dramatic departure from her eponymous role in Felicity) play Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, travel agents and parents to a pair of teenaged kids. But when they’re not booking hotel reservations or helping with homework, they’re blackmailing visiting dignitaries, seducing contractors with high security clearance, shepherding new KGB recruits, and killing anyone who interferes with the missions they undertake on behalf of Mother Russia.

Part of the show’s appeal for me is the chronologically-appropriate soundtrack and clothing, plus the occasional quick glimpse of a vintage toy or an authentic news clip in the background. I am, after all, a child of the 80s. I’m also glad for the chance to bone up on aspects of history that were red-white-and-blue-washed for my textbooks.

More importantly, though, I love the show because of three story strands that relate to my life as a minister. Read more