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Crimes of The Americans

Richard H. McAdams (University of Chicago Law School, USA)

Law, Politics and Family in ‘The Americans’

ISBN: 978-1-83753-995-6, eISBN: 978-1-83753-994-9

Publication date: 25 September 2023


The television series The Americans succeeds as a family drama, crime drama, and political drama. Criminal law offers a useful perspective for interpreting the series. By examining the post-finale criminal liability of two key characters, daughter Paige Jennings and FBI agent Stan Beeman, this chapter provides some novel insights into the characters, their motivations, and the events in the last season of the series. The legal analysis also uncovers some ironies. Most notably, Paige’s legal vulnerability will put her in a moral dilemma because her best way of avoiding a lengthy prison term is to provide evidence against Stan, punishing him for letting her and her parents go.




For insightful comments on a previous draft, I thank Mary Dudas, Anna Marshall, Claire Rasmussen, and two anonymous referees. For excellent research assistance, I thank Emilia Porubcin.


McAdams, R.H. (2023), "Crimes of The Americans", Sarat, A. (Ed.) Law, Politics and Family in ‘The Americans’ (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 89), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-16.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Richard H. McAdams