The FX series The Americans follows Soviet spies Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, who serve their country under the guise of American travel agents. On the surface, the Jennings enjoy a pleasant domestic situation, following Reagan-era calls for conservative family values; however it is a necessary facade for their commitment to the KGB. In this scene, Philip has just returned from shopping with his children Henry and Paige to find Elizabeth preparing brownies intended for the new neighbors. The Coppertone walls offset the bright white cabinets and the afternoon light bathes the couple as it shines in through the window. This picture-perfect 1980s domestic scene is quickly interrupted by Elizabeth’s allusion to a captured Soviet defector they are holding hostage. The tension escalates to aggression as Elizabeth swiftly turns the knife on her husband and questions his assertion of their married roles. This reference to their sham marriage and false identities lingers as the Jennings family meets the Beamans across the street. The interaction seems to bask in the neighborly obligation both families feel as brownies and awkward introductions are offered. As a viewer, it’s difficult not to chuckle a bit as Elizabeth and Stan’s wife Sandra excessively apologize for the intrusion and mess, respectively, and Philip and Stan assume their fatherly roles with introductions and talk of morning commutes. And Philip’s “FBI? Wow!” is a darkly comedic moment in an otherwise violent spy thriller, fraught with mortal danger. While this serious moment pits KGB spies against their FBI agent neighbor, this scene also captures the queerness of two families living in a Reagan-era D.C. suburb. Beyond the awkwardness of a first meeting, there is a certain strain on both sides to appear casual, happy, and, most importantly, normal. Whether through secret identities or infidelities, neither family can claim any of these qualities. Showrunner Joe Weisberg has repeatedly claimed that more than a spy thriller, he set out to create a story about marriage and family. He has definitely succeeded in this arena and, in doing so, has also found a way to offer a fresh critique of Reagan-era policies while he’s at it.