After years of being hailed as the best show on television, the TV Academy is acknowledging the gem that is FX’s The Americans. The ‘80s-era spy thriller received five nominations, three of which were in the awards’ most prestigious categories: Outstanding Drama, Oustanding Lead Actor and Actress for Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, as well a fourth guest nomination for Margo Martindale (she won last year), and a writing nomination for showrunners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg for their fourth season finale, “Persona Non Grata.”
Fields and Weisberg, who are on vacations with their families in Canada and New York, respectively, said in a phone interview that the three previous awards season had trained them not to expect anything.
You’ve been waiting four seasons for this day. What has this morning been like?
Joel Fields: We’re feeling shocked and very grateful. It’s been quite a ride for the show, and we’re so thrilled to see Matthew and Keri’s work recognized in this way. They’re so deserving, and we’re just thrilled to see the show recognized. It’s quite overwhelming. We were not expecting it.
There really are so many great shows on the air right now, so to finally break through is such a big deal.
Joe Weisberg: It’s funny, people have been asking us, why do we think this is the year? And I’ve been struggling for any kind of an answer. But, as you said that, it occurred to me that every year there are more and more great shows, any one of which would truly deserve a nomination because they’re so good. Joel and I talk about all the shows we’re watching all the time. We have a lot of favorites, but maybe it’s a little bit of the reversal of the traditional wisdom. Maybe having a later season becomes a little bit of an advantage at this point, because you have time to grow, and time for people to get to really know the show, and maybe that helped us out this year.
What makes Keri Russell’s and Matthew Rhys’s performances special in your eyes?
JW: They’ve been given this extremely unusual job, even in their universe filled with unusual parts, they’ve got these parts where they have to play multiple parts all at once, and they have to be extremely convincing in all of them. It’s an extraordinary thing to be able to do that, and they have to do it all while engaging this complex, loving relationship. We really marvel at it every time we watch it. In a way, Joel and I watch it fresh the way people do, because when you see the first cut of the show, we initially have seen a little bit of dailies, but it’s still pretty fresh for us, so we get to be amazed by it like everybody does.
JF: The one thing I’ll add to that is they have a beautiful way of bringing these characters to life with truth. Their performances never go to that place where they call attention to themselves. They really crushed the inner lives of these characters.
What does finally being recognized actually mean to you? You’ve had critical support from the beginning, FX definitely supports you, and you must feel good about the work that you do, but what does it mean at this level to finally have a nomination?
JW: Well, I’ll speak for myself. Joel and I agree on a lot, but this is more personal, so, I will say that I can finally end the four-year-long charade that I don’t care about the Emmys. [Laughs.]
JF: I said to Joe, thank God, I was afraid we were gonna run out of high roads to walk on. It’s really something, and I’ll also say I don’t think we’d be here without the television critics. They’ve been such supporters, and that’s been great wind in our creative sails.
You’re not together. What are you going to do to celebrate?
JW: My plan was to explore some museums. My family is now off doing that, but my plan has morphed into making a lot of grateful phone calls to the incredible team that’s gotten the show here. Which is a pretty good day.
JF: Yeah, phone calls, emails. I’m gonna say, “I can’t believe it,” like, 500 times.