As I sat last night and watched the third episode of the excellent new show The Bridge on FX, it becomes ever clearer that FX is the highest quality television network today. After AMC relinquished its crown as the King of Television when follow up shows to Golden Age classics like Breaking Bad and Mad Men paled in comparison to those great shows. FX stepped up, and in a big way.
FX currently boasts some of the best dramas on the small screen, and if not the highest viewed comedy, then certainly the best reviewed by critics (Louie), and a solid core of laughs after that (Always Sunny, The League, Wilfred). The core FX shows that have flourished over the past three to five years (Justified, Sons of Anarchy), have been bolstered by a stellar rookie class this year: the aformentioned Bridge and the phenomenal The Americans. The first season of the Americans is probably my favorite season of television ever. It centers on a Russian spy couple living under cover in the US during the height of the Cold War. The brilliant Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys must navigate many obstacles, including an FBI agent living across the street. The couple paints a very different picture of the American Dream than what we are used to.
And The Bridge is by far the best new show of the summer. Anchored by two strong leads in Diane Kruger (of National Treasure fame) and Demian Bichir, it follows the story of two detectives, one American and one Mexican, as they hunt a serial killer in both El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico, where thousands of people are murdered every year. This taut thriller captures its audience immediately, and does not relinquish its grip as it pulls its viewers deeper and deeper into a world where borders, both literally and figuratively, are often crossed. And the amazing thing about the show is that it is just getting started. Andy Greenwald, a television critic for grantland.com, reported on a recent podcast of his that The Bridge’s showrunner, Meredith Stiehm, said that the serial killer case will be wrapped up before this season is even over, and that The Bridge has only just started to explore the connections between the two towns of El Paso and Juarez.
FX has truly become the King of Television. With Breaking Bad ending this season (tear…) and Mad Men near the end, AMC badly needs some fresh blood to increase its quality (and now, I’m not talking about another boring, repetitive season of The Walking Dead, although the Season 4 trailer looked pretty cool). Unless channels like Showtime and HBO step it up, FX will rule television for the foreseeable future.