Quote IconComing so soon after the release of the new “House of Cards”’ season, this feels like a necessary corrective to that show’s hollow cynicism. This lying, scheming Washington couple are no less amoral than Frank and Claire Underwood—they’ve certainly killed more people, and their goals are far more destructive to the United States. But while “The Americans” doesn’t downplay the Jennings’ misdeeds (or the Soviet Union’s crimes), it foregrounds their motivations: not naked self-interest but devotion—to their children, their homeland, their ideals.

The Most Humane Drama on Cable Is About a Bunch of Murderous Spies