The Americans is one of the best shows on television that not enough people are talking about. It has everything you'd ever need in great television; great acting, suspenseful writing, and well crafted action. The Americans centers on Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), a seemingly typical American couple with two kids who are really complicated Russian spies during the height of Cold War hysteria in 1980s America. But the plot thickens, because as it turns out, Keri Russell is dating Matthew Rhys in real life (officially since April 2014).
With all the crazy spy antics and intense relationship dynamics on the show, that has to add an extra level of intrigue. Think about it: While any workplace romance can be awkward I think one between co-stars who play a mercurial spy couple during the height of Cold War would create more awkward scenarios.
Still it probably helps in the chemistry department. In an interview with the LA Times Rhys describes his attraction to his role on The Americans saying, "It's the sort we've never seen before, two people who've been together for 'x' amount of years and now begin to forge a real relationship. The spy stuff was just a bonus." That has to be more fun when you're exploring the relationship and the spy stuff with your real life bae.
Armed with this knowledge, I couldn't not go through the most tumultuous moments in the couple's past. Here are all the times Rhys & Russell's real life romance (probably) made the show better:
Philip Finds Out About Elizabeth's Traumatic Past
One of the most noticeable aspects of Elizabeth's character from the onset is that she is cold, dedicated, and quite elusive. Phillip seems far more empathetic and less patriotic when it comes to Mother Russia. The show let's us know why when it reveals that Elizabeth was raped by KGB chief commander, Timoshev. When Philip realizes the history between them in the clip above it is heartbreaking.
Elizabeth's Affair with Gregory
Elizabeth: I can't do this anymore, he's my husband.Gregory: He's your cover.
Philip has always been more in love with Elizabeth. For her the relationship was mostly just a cover until the end of Season 1 and Season 2. It isn't surprising she had an affair with Gregory, a civil rights activist whom she recruits to join the KGB. I'm still bitter his character is no longer on the show because I think The Americans lost an amazing dynamic by killing him off.
Their interactions involve some of the only truly romantic moments for Elizabeth in Season 1. Derek Luke imbues Gregory with such hopeless desire that it can be painful to watch. His relationship with Elizabeth is a doomed love affair but it was a real connection. No wonder Philip was so jealous.
The Sex Scene That Started Off Season 2
That was definitely an ambitious sex position to have in the first episode of the show's second season. In a Hollywood Reporter interview roundtable Russell said:
I actually fought against that scene. I just didn't know if that was the best emotional place for those characters. I wondered if there was a different physical act that could be happening other than that one.
I appreciated the sex scene (minus Paige's intrusion). Simulating graphic oral sex with a dude that you're dating in real life must be awkward or at least take someone with more confidence than I have.
You Can See Their Real Chemistry
While the intensity is always dialed up on the show, Russell and Rhys seem remarkably light-hearted in the above TV Guide interview that pre-dated Season 2. Of course they wound up together — look at that chemistry!
While Season 2 showed Philip and Elizabeth much more united, the upcoming season will definitely test that bond. Will Paige be recruited into the KGB? Will Philip and Elizabeth retain their cover? Will their other false lives continue to bleed over into their main one?
But no matter what happens, we can count on the chemistry of the real life couple to create some heat on The Americans.
Images: James Minchin/FX; fyeahtheamericans/Tumblr(3)