Great Moments in TV Drinking: Miller High Life and The Americans

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Great Moments in TV Drinking: Miller High Life and <i>The Americans</i>

Think you’ve had it rough lately? It’s been a three Miller High Lifes kind of month for Stan Beeman. Recently, The Americans’ ace FBI agent appeared to finally be on the cusp of success after he sniffed out the office’s sleeper cell agent. But then an all hands on deck search party came up short, the Russians managed to grab and export their asset, and Beeman’s kid covertly drank most of the family’s fridge beer while dad was caught up with work. What else was a stressed red-blooded American to do?

“Hey, you mind if I grab a beer? I’m running low.”

Miller No. 1 started off innocently enough, just a “down on his luck” Stan lightly imposing on a friendly neighbor. Of course, that neighbor happens to be secret KGB operative Phillip Jennings. As the weight of Cold War stress crashes down on Beeman, Phillip just meekly sips a Miller and listens. Stan quickly empties his bottle/soul and the 1980s equivalent of his all-staff work e-mails. Many have embraced the High Life in moments of sadness, few have done so while unknowingly making it this much worse.

Still, Milwaukee’s most famous export seems to do the trick (with an assist from a mid-episode seven-month time jump). Stan’s spirit has been rejuvenated, and he seeks his second Miller in a moment of relaxation and rekindling with his now former boss, Agent Gaad. Two pals sharing in the High Life often leads to moments of unsolicited philosophy, and these career FBI men are no different. “Just remember, it’s your operation, Stan,” Gaad says. Maybe the ex-director feels some sort of way about the current director, but it also sounds like fatherly advice based on some unspoken experience. “Screw the AG, screw the bosses, screw the director.”

Whatever temporary vigor Stan has at this point, his third Miller does what all third beers will do—it brought him down, fast. After tricking his colleague Agent Aderholt into accompanying, Stan has plans to get a drink with… Mr. Hanson, aka father of the recently missing secretary-turned-sleeper cell agent at the FBI office. As Hanson oscillates between denial (“She’s too smart for the KGB!”), anger (“You must have the wrong idea!”), and despair (“Promise me, you won’t give up looking for her…”), all Beeman can do is nurse the champagne of beers. Whatever relief it once offers has disappeared, and Stan has apparently drank himself full circle. He’s low on beer and full on miserable reminders of a bad situation all over again.

Stan (played by Noah Emmerich, whose emotionally complex plausible-Miller drinker credibility is well established from the film Little Children) says very little for two out of three bottles. While he somehow lets us in on the entire rollercoaster through a stoic yet oddly emotive face, another element clearly helps with the heavy emotional lifting. This is a tale of three Miller High Lifes, after all. And anyone who has sought out that many golden wheat-colored pilsners at a time of need probably knows a thing or two about all the recent anguish for poor Stan.

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