Every Season of ‘The Americans,’ Ranked


The Americans is one of the best drama shows of the 21st century, and the perfect blend of espionage and familial drama. Beyond being an interesting examination of the Cold War in the 1980s and the impact of Ronald Reagan’s administration on the next wave of the “Red Scare,” the series deconstructed the inner workings of a marriage built on lies.

The Americans centers on the KGB secret agents Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), who have been given a long-term assignment from their employers to go undercover in the United States as a seemingly normal all-American couple. The Jennings have raised two children, Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati), but their safety is threatened when their assignments grow more dangerous and the FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) moves in as their next door neighbor. Here is every season of The Americans, ranked.

The Americans

Release Date
January 30, 2013

Main Genre



6 Season 5 (2017)

Number of Episodes: 13

keri russell looking off to the left in the americans
Image via FX

Season 5 faced many of the same issues that other drama shows suffered from in their penultimate seasons; there was a lot of rising action, but little major events of consequence. Now that Paige had begun her training as a junior agent, the pressure on her parents to keep their real obligations a secret was no longer present, leading to less tension.

While the season is rather slow in its pacing and spends too much time focused on uninteresting subplots, the season finale “The Soviet Division” teased an intriguing setup for season 6. Here, Elizabeth dares to do assignments of her own without Phillip there to support her. The finale ends with uncertainty, which was built up throughout the otherwise dry season; “The Soviet Division” earned 8.1 stars on IMDb.

5 Season 2 (2014)

Number of Episodes: 13

Elizabeth Jennings looking at something with a suspicious expression in The Americans
Image via 20th Century Fox Television

The Americans begins to find its identity within its second season as Philip and Elizabeth see the consequences that their lifestyle may have on their family. The season premiere episode, “Comrades,” foreshadows the darker route that the season will take; the couple begins to become increasingly insecure after witnessing the murder of another spy couple.

Phillip and Elizabeth’s anxieties are coupled well with Paige’s growing independence, as she begins to question what her parents’ real lives are like; can tell that they aren’t being completely honest with her, and Taylor’s performance is particularly strong. In addition to the action and conspiracy set out in season 1, season 2 dives deeper into the American family during this time period – particularly as it relates to Paige.

4 Season 3 (2015)

Number of Episodes: 13

Kerry Russell and Matthew Rhys standing in the kitchen in The Americans
Image via FX

Season 3 is among the most important installments in the entire saga, as it is when Paige finally learns the truth about her parents. While Taylor continues to give a remarkable youthful performance, it’s really Russell who becomes that standout of the season. Elizabeth is faced with her increasingly complex obligations as a wife, mother, and daughter; she questions Phillips’ sexual encounters with other women when he’s undercover, makes the difficult decision to tell her daughter the truth, and visits her own dying mother as her health declines.

Emmerich is also a standout of the season, as Stan’s personal relationships begin to crumble as he seeks to forge a new path for himself amidt the changing social climate. This was not Russell’s only role depicting the balance of womanhood with political duties; she later starred in Netflix’s political thriller series, The Diplomat. While season 3 may not be The Americans’ best, each episode had quality storytelling, with IMDb scores ranging from 7.9 to 9 stars on IMDb.

3 Season 1 (2013)

Number of Episodes: 13

Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings standing side by side and looking in the same direction in The Americans.
Image via FX

Few shows start out with pilot episodes that are as great as The Americans’ pilot episode (directed by The Way Back filmmaker Gavin O’Connor) perfectly established the tone, atmosphere, and context of Phillip and Elizabeth’s situation. Not only did the first episode introduce the concept that Phillip was interested in potentially defecting to the United States, but it revealed a dark secret about Elizabeth’s past that allowed Russell to show the character’s vulnerability.

While the first season included a lot of very dark moments (including the death of Elizabeth’s mentor), there were also some more humorous moments as a result of the couple’s unique situation. It was interesting to hear a Russian perspective on American consumerism and the concept of the “nuclear family.” A review from Vulture back in 2013 raved about the show’s future and, while silly and inaccurate at times, depicts 1980s America fairly well. In addition, Rotten Tomatoes gave The Americans first season a fresh 88% rating.

2 Season 4 (2016)

Number of Episodes: 13

Matthew Rhy and Phillip Jennings on the phone in The Americans
Image via FX

Season 4 was among The Americans’ most consequential, as it dealt with the fate of Paige’s mentor in the religious community, Pastor Tim (Kelly AuCoin). Tim cares very deeply about Paige’s future, and after learning about the Jennings’ true work, must schedule a meeting with her parents. This puts more pressure on the Jennings’ relationship, as Phillip and Elizabeth have differing views on properly raising a child.

Rhys in particular has a great season, as Phillip grows increasingly isolated, and even argumentative with Stan. While Rhys had successfully shown a more comedic side to the character in the previous seasons, he perfectly shows Phillip’s hardening views as his family’s safety is thrown into jeopardy. Season 4 earned an impressive 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where one critic from Entertainment Weekly called it a, “character-driven, cause-and-effect drama… a set of Russian nesting dolls.”

1 Season 6 (2018)

Number of Episodes: 10

Keri Russell looking out of a train's window in The Americans
Image via Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution

It’s rare that the final season of a great drama show is able to hit the dramatic notes needed in order to be completely satisfying, and few have been as well executed as The Americans’ final installment. Ironically, the tighter runtime of season 6 – which shrunk from the standard 13 episodes to just ten – ended up creating a tighter and more succinct narrative.

“START” is an all-time great season finale that manages to send every character on an unknown, but hopeful path. Phillip and Elizabeth must adjust to a modern Russia, Paige will have to find a new identity for herself, Henry still remains in the dark, and even Stan walks away from his wild experiences with his honor intact. The final season – which received 99% on Rotten Tomatoes – presents viewers with many changes for the Jennings family. Ultimately, it ties together the two important narratives present throughout the series: raising a family while also adhering to professional duties, no matter how much the two go against one another.

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