20 Best TV Shows of 2015 So Far

From hip-hop soap operas to stoner comedies and spy dramas, it's been a great half-year

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'The Americans' (FX)
Patrick Harbon/FX3/20

3. 'The Americans' (FX)

The best drama on TV right now — I mean, what's close? Whatever it is, it's probably not that close. And so much of it comes down to the Yaz episode. Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) are Soviet spies in 1982, posing as ordinary American parents. He aches to make an emotional connection with his troubled teen daughter, so he gives her the synth-pop classic Upstairs at Eric's. (Because you want to give her something real! You want to give her a Yaz record!) But then he hears that same album in a very, very wrong place, and it confronts him with the truth — he's cursed to live out all the loneliness, guilt and sorrow he hears in the music, and he's betraying his daughter in ways he never dreamed. A typical masterstroke from The Americans — it uses Eighties period detail (from EST sessions to Love's Baby Soft to the fact that we once had a Christian Left in this country) to flesh out an elemental tale of family life as one long exercise in deception and espionage. Like the song says: Don't make a sound, just move out.

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