The FX drama series The Americans has been truly excellent throughout its run, with compelling storytelling and exceptional performances from everyone in the cast. Among many highlights, it’s shown us how good Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are in their roles as Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, KGB spies posing as Americans, it’s allowed us to watch Holly Taylor grow the teenage Paige into a compelling character as she doubted and questioned what her parents were really up to, and it’s taken us on a roller coaster, as we’ve wondered what the ultimate outcome of the Jennings family could possibly be. The fact that it’s now in its final season is bittersweet, as it’s always sad to say goodbye to such a great TV show, but it’s also exciting to know that the creators were able to write to an ending that they chose and are saying that goodbye on their own terms.
During this interview with Collider, co-showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields talked about the reality of the end of the series being so near, the emotions that come with making a final season, their plans for the day after it’s all done, deciding on the endgame they wanted to commit to, Philip and Elizabeth’s journey in the final season, where Paige and Henry (Keidrich Sellati) fit into the family, new characters, production challenges, what they’ve most enjoyed about working with this cast and crew for six seasons, and how everyone reacted to the final script.
Collider: When I spoke to you about Season 5 and asked if you were feeling nostalgic for the series yet, you said that you were in denial about the show ending. Are you still in denial, or is the fact that this is the end unavoidable?
JOE WEISBERG: It’s crushing suffering and day-to-day misery and unhappiness combined with feeling great. It’s very confusing. I’m not joking. It’s very emotional, with so many ups and downs, all at the same time.
Is it how you expected the end would feel?
JOEL FIELDS: I don’t think there was an expectation. The truth is, it’s a weird cacophony of emotions because it’s been such a wonderful experience. That’s why it’s so sad that it’s coming to an end, even though it has to come to an end. We’ve been working so hard and we care so much about it that we’re exhausted. We’re not gonna stop until we’re done, so there’s an element of just pushing through and continuing the hard work. And it’s all bound up in the emotional feeling of coming toward the end of something we don’t want to end, but has to end, and that we unequivocally feel great about. You can see how circular and painful the logic is. That’s what it’s like to be in our heads, right now. It’s exhausting.
Do you have a plan for the day after it’s all done?
WEISBERG: Yeah, we’re gonna take a rest!
FIELDS: I called Steven Bochco, almost a year ago. I called him for life advice and creative advice, and I said, “We’re getting ready to finish the show. Do you have any advice for endings?” He said, “Well, do you guys have an ending in mind?” And I said, “Yes, we do. We know how we wanna end the show.” And he said, “Well, then you’re fine. You should plan a vacation. You need to have a vacation planned for when it ends.” I thought that was good advice.
You’ve said that you knew what the ending would be, but that you had a few variations of that ending to decide between. When did you finally decide on the variation of the endgame that you were going to commit to?
WEISBERG: That’s an interesting question, but it’s hard to answer. Quite a few months ago, we picked the variation, but even up until recently, we were figuring out how to get there. Part of this season has been about making a lot of changes and adjustments to how we get there. We made some changes that felt very significant, about how we’d get there. So, even though that ending has stayed in place, the adjustments really mattered.
FIELDS: Even the small adjustments are big adjustments. I’m sure we’ll be refining it, down to the last frame in the editing room.
Have you had a panic moment, at all, where you’ve felt like you needed more episode or that you needed another season, or are you just zen about it all now?
FIELDS: The shape of it felt really right to us. I don’t think we ever felt like we needed more, and I don’t think we could have done with fewer. It really feels like it’s been just right.
WEISBERG: I think we’re beyond zen. We were so used to doing 13 episodes that doing 10 felt easy compared to 13. So many times this season, we were like, “Wow, it’s so nice doing 10!” We were very happy about the 10.