Welcome back, fellow fangirls (and fanboys!), to one more Fangirl Thursday post before this feature goes on another little hiatus until March to make room for more TV reviews here at NGN! I hope all of you had a lovely holiday season and are enjoying a nice start to 2015.
The holiday season is a great time to catch up on the media our busy lives often cause us to miss out on. Between books and movies and TV shows given as Christmas gifts and holiday hiatuses giving us some time to indulge in new interests, it provides the perfect combination of new things to fall in love with and more time to fall in love with them. There are also plenty of people who make New Year’s resolutions to read more, start a new TV series, or watch or read something from the past that has a lot of critical acclaim surrounding it. (We all know that one person who has a New Year’s resolution to watch The Wire in 2015.)
When I was 13, the holiday season was when I binge-read the first four Harry Potter novels. In college, winter break meant exploring the world of Doctor Who and Torchwood. A few years ago, New Year’s Day was the day I discovered Once Upon a Time and proceeded to watch the first seven episodes all at once. Last year, I spent the week after Christmas devouring Season One of Orphan Black.
This year, I was given the gift of three TV shows I’ve been wanting to watch for a long time by two people I know and love and trust (my sister and Heather). Heather’s gift of Eli Stone is waiting for me to explore this spring when I’ll need something to get me through the start of hiatus time. And one of my sister’s gifts for me—the first season of Veep—has already helped me start to heal from Amy Peohler’s Golden Globes snub and finally appreciate the brilliance of Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
My sister also got me the first season of The Americans, and, in doing so, sent me down a rabbit hole of thoughts and feelings I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from (and we all know I love a good rabbit hole of feelings!). Philip and Elizabeth Jennings have now joined the ranks of Harry Potter, Emma Swan, and Sarah Manning as characters I first met over a holiday break but who stayed with me long after the New Year started. When I began watching my DVDs of the first season of The Americans, I had a goal of finishing Season One and then watching Seasons Two and Three after the third season wraps up this summer. Now I only have nine episodes left to watch in Season Two, with every intention of watching Season Three as it airs, starting on January 28. I’m not sure I’ve ever binge-watched a drama series this quickly before, but if there’s a show worthy of being a weird combination of devoured and savored, it’s The Americans.
I’m planning to write something more about this show once I finish what’s already looking like an excellent second season, but for now I will just say that this show is worthy of every bit of praise critics have sent its way—and more. (I’m looking at you, award committees who consistently fail to recognize its brilliance.) It’s the kind of show that keeps me up at night thinking about not just its plot twists and turns but its overarching themes of loyalty, love, family, and the secrets we all keep and the reasons we keep them. It’s also the kind of show that makes me sit with my hand over my mouth and tears running down my face because of something as simple as a whispered “Come home.”
It’s been said many times by people far more articulate than I am: The Americans is a show about Russian spies posing as a typical 1980s American family, but at its soul it’s a show about marriage and parenthood. It’s a show about partnerships and intimacy and the universal struggle of raising kids. And that partnership—the marriage of Elizabeth and Philip—is what got me invested in the show right away and has kept me hooked for the past two weeks. It’s a fake marriage that turned into something real and, thus, very scary for two people (especially Elizabeth) who were taught that emotional attachment is weakness. Watching the exceptionally talented Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys navigate every up and down in their journey so far has been such a joy. Those two actors can convey in silence what so many actors need pages of dialogue to express.
The subtlety of the emotional moments on The Americans isn’t for everyone, but it works so well for me. I love that this show makes me pay close attention not just to its plot but to every expression that crosses these characters’ faces. I like when shows whisper rather than scream (Although this show isn’t afraid of screaming when it’s called for.) because it draws me in rather than keeping me at a distance. And The Americans has certainly drawn me in to its tangled web of spies, secrets, and complicated relationships.
Now that all of you have heard plenty about my latest TV love, I want to know about yours. Did you fall in love with any new books, movies, or TV shows this holiday season?