The Americans, which in May wrapped up a storied six-season run on FX, was many things: a taut Cold War spy thriller, a rich family drama, an extended metaphor for marriage. And, of course, it was also a show about wigs. The K.G.B. sleeper agents played by Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell donned dozens of fabulous disguises in the course of their spy work, from the scraggly, stringy ponytail that transforms sad-eyed Philip into a textbook Reagan-era dirtbag to the thick, frizzy red curls and enormous glasses that manage to dull Elizabeths luminous beauty when shes posing as a home health aid. Each carefully arranged coiffure had its own dedicated purpose, its own personality; under different circumstances, Philip and Elizabeth could have made a lucrative living as professors of wig acting.
Given their commitment to dress-up, its no wonder that these two were ultimately foiled by a wig deferred. Philip and Elizabeths next-door neighbor, dogged F.B.I. agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), eventually cottons on to their true identities after speaking with a source whos glimpsed Elizabeth sans disguise. He tells Stan that the spy he saw had “incredible hair, like those Vidal Sassoon ads”—a description any Felicity fan could corroborate, and one that ignites Stans Spidey sense. His neighbors end up fleeing home, to Russia, having lost their livelihood, their children, and, most devastatingly, their enviable wig stash. (Perhaps theyll be able to open a salon after perestroika.) Here, Cameron K. Lewis marks the shows passing by highlighting eight of Philips and Elizabeths most notable looks—the good, the bad, and the goth.