Last week, Vox published a comprehensive feature on how a single episode of a television show — in this case, FX's excellent spy drama The Americans — goes from a germ of an idea in someone's brain to a full-fledged episode on your screen. I shadowed production for five months as the cast and crew hustled to bring a script to life on one of the best shows on TV:
Everyone on The Americans is working toward the same goal. This sounds like an obvious statement, but trust me: With so many variables in play and so little time to get everything done, that kind of teamwork is both rare and prized. If a set is like a train hurtling toward its destination, any bit of discord on the route clashes against the tracks and creates a warning spark — and the more that happens, the more likely it is that the whole thing will derail.
The story features exclusive and in-depth interviews with The Americans' cast, showrunners, writer, production designer, editor, and more. Check it out:
But even after publishing several thousand words and a video on the show's behind-the-scenes processes, Vox still received plenty of follow-up questions about how TV works, and how The Americans and other meticulous shows like it create such rich worlds for us to dive into every week. So I did my best to answer some lingering questions in the comments (which you can read below this post).