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‘The Americans’ heats up Cold War

The FX Network became a major player in the cable world with “Sons of Anarchy,” “American Horror Story” and “Justified.” Its latest offering, “The Americans,” only adds to the quality the cable channel has to offer.

The series debuts at 10 p.m. Jan. 30 on FX.

“The Americans” looks at what appears to be a typical suburban couple — played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys — living the American Dream during the early years of the Ronald Reagan administration. They’re actually two KGB agents who have been living a secret life for almost 15 years.

It’s a dark and thrilling look at the spy game during the peak of the Cold War. It’s not your typical Americans-are-better series because its told from the point of view of the Russians. The natural tendency is to hate them but the series shows that behind the cold determination of the spies are two humans trying to deal with love, parenting and a mortgage.

Russell’s performance is particularly strong because the series doesn’t take the usual tactic when it comes to spies. Her character is the one who has the unwavering loyalty to the Motherland while Rhys plays the role of realist who knows if they continue their ploy, it can only end badly. Russell is anything but the typical casting to play a female Russian spy which makes the deception all the more believable.

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Matthew Rhys juggles multiple accents

It’s not unusual for Australian or English actors to take on a role in a TV show where they have to do an American accent. But, the casting of Matthew Rhys in the new FX series “The Americans” sets up a very complicated accent situation. He’s a Brit who’s playing a Russian who’s pretending to be an American.

Rhys laughs and says the way he handles the complex language task is to just put himself in the place of the character.

“In some ways, he would have to be more American than many Americans,” Rhys says in his natural British accent. “However, if my American accent ever slips I can always blame it on being Russian.”

This accent juggling is so Rhys can play a Russian KGB agent who’s secretly been living in American for almost 15 years. With his arranged wife (Keri Russell) who also is a spy, they bounce during the early years of the Ronald Reagan administration between living a normal life as parents of two and spying for the Motherland.

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