The Americans Best Disguises of Season 2

21 May

Tonight is The Americans finale, concluding what has been an incredible second season as Philip and Elizabeth have skated even closer to danger. The disguises are of course a big part of the aesthetic, so I want to take a look at this season’s best looks and how they represent the ever growing dread and tension from the outset. It is 1982 so the frames are big and there’s a drab quality to a lot of the clothes; this isn’t the neon/bold print 80s that will come later. Generally they don’t want to stand out unless the mission calls for it so there’s a whole lot of short wigs for Elizabeth and era appropriate facial hair for Philip; blending in is what they do best. Oh and there might be some artistic license with what I call these disguises when a real fake name has not been mentioned.

The Americans 2.01Philip’s flashiest attire appears in the season opener and a wig malfunction for Cowboy Steve leads to the shooting of an innocent teenage boy and a look at how much glue is used to keep this hairpiece on. Not enough by all accounts and I’m guessing Philip has a good quality shampoo to keep his locks from being a gluey mess the entire time. Before disaster strikes, Philip’s Texas drawl and negotiations are going well as he looks rather menacing, if not out of place in his leather/suede combination jacket and aviators.

The Americans 2.02 PhilipMatthew Rhys has dubbed this disguise ‘Fernando’ but to me it’s Rust Cohle’s older brother. This costume is an Americans staple and he first used this in the pilot when he interpreted barbecue on a whole new level. It’s a multipurpose look and it’s rather unassuming as he uses it whenever he wants to play a blue-collar worker, allowing him access to areas that might otherwise be off limits. It is also how he came to meet Fred when he broke into his house as an electrician and now he has to wear this every time he meets with him.

The Americans 2.11 ElizabethHere is one of several wigs that has me asking “How do they fit Keri Russell’s hair under there?” and a recurring cover. This is Ann Chadwick from the Child Advocacy Center and she looks suitably bland. It’s all beige and big frames; there’s not meant to be anything fancy about someone who holds this position.

The Americans JenniferWe first ‘met’ Clark’s sister Jennifer at the wedding last season and Jennifer is a hoot and self-confessed Betty Buttinsky. It’s just as well, as when Clark is indisposed Jennifer can step up to the Martha wrangling plate, even if it means hearing about how Clark is an “animal in bed.” Not something you want to know when it is about your fake brother who is actually the love of your life. Philip and Elizabeth have been relatively solid all season except for the Clark in bed experimentation that goes horribly awry. Aside from this Jennifer is a fun and dorky look on Elizabeth, it’s just a shame it leads to one of the most heartbreaking/fucked up moments of this season.

The AmericansMore bureaucratic disguises and as CIA Security Elizabeth breaks free of those dowdy short wig/glasses chains for something on the funkier side. The same can’t be said about Philip’s facial add-ons. I can picture Valerie and Bob shooting the shit after work in a dive bar together and they’re definitely having an affair on the side. Yes it’s fun making up names and backstories for their covers.

The Americans 2.10 ElizabethIn “Yousaf” it is “bring your sexy disguise to work” day as both Philip and Elizabeth up the hotness ante. Elizabeth is all shoulder pads and plunging necklines, however Gloria Shoulder Pads is a double threat thanks to an interest in current affairs and she uses this as a ruse to get Yousaf to notice her beyond the heels and blonde hair. This is one of the most quintessential early 80s looks they have done so far – just look at that hair flick – and sadly this is all we get to see of Gloria Shoulder Pads as Philip brings in Annelise for the honey trap plot. Philip is reacting to how hesitant Elizabeth has been with using sex this season to get what they need, not that she has overtly said something and it also raises questions about how detrimental their real love is to their seduction performance.

The Americans 2.10 swimming capIn the same episode Elizabeth plays the unassuming Swimming Sally and pulls an assassination move in the pool. It’s the perfect disguise as the swimming cap and goggles obscure her face. I love the textured look of this swimming cap and how it reads on camera.

The Americans 2.11 Philip and ElizabethFlat caps, beanies and baseball caps are all essential components of ‘light disguise.’ Ditto wearing all black. It’s not as altering as any of the other disguises of course, but not all occasions call for wigs and glasses. Throw in a black turtleneck and this is when they look like classic spies (or maybe a cat burglar).

The Americans 2.11 PhilipVietnam Ted will pay for your meds and listen to your crackpot theories because he knows those theories have weight to them. Ted is Philip’s hairiest look and he also develops a rather gruff speech pattern to add to his disillusioned Vietnam vet demeanor. The brown suede and sheepskin coat looks pretty toasty and considering how much snow has featured this season (thank you Polar Vortex) it’s the ideal outerwear.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow when I will be discussing the season 2 finale “Echo” and for all our coverage on The Americans head here.


6 Responses to “The Americans Best Disguises of Season 2”

  1. TT May 31, 2014 at 5:39 am #

    Do you have reviews for Season 1?


  1. Best of TV Costuming 2014: The Marriage Disguise on The Americans | TV Ate My Wardrobe - December 4, 2014

    […] as a story about marriage. The wigs and multiple disguises continue to thrill (I wrote about the best covers of season 2 earlier this year) and instead of focusing on the spy attire as I did last year, I want to take a […]

  2. The Americans 3.12 “I Am Abassin Zadran” Review: All in the Family | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 16, 2015

    […] wears her CIA disguise for her phone maintenance worker hotel trip and there is no way Neil will suspect this is the woman […]

  3. Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 13, 2015

    […] The cast of The Americans has just as much fun with the disguises as I do writing about them. […]

  4. Best of TV Costuming 2015: Best of the Rest Part 2 | TV Ate My Wardrobe - December 28, 2015

    […] one of Elizabeth’s best wigs of the season (which is actually a slightly less wavy repeat from S2). Blonde is definitely working for […]

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