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The most ridiculous wigs and disguises on “The Americans,” ranked

the americans
We found the lost members of the Sex Pistols.
  • Adam Epstein
By Adam Epstein

Entertainment reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

This is what the lead characters on The Americans, Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, played by actors Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell, actually look like:


More often than not, though, this attractive couple—Russian spies posing as an American family in the 1980s—look nothing like this. That’s because they’re in disguise, you know, being spies and whatnot.

Philip and Elizabeth’s kooky wigs and wardrobes were meticulously researched and styled, and a fan favorite on The Americans, which wrapped up its six-season run this week (May 30) with a riveting finale.

In honor of the end of FX’s Cold War spy drama, Quartz looked back at our favorite of the Jennings’ undercover costumes—some hilariously conspicuous, others much more subtle—and ranked our top 10 (plus some honorable mentions) by their actual effectiveness as disguises:

10. Felicity all over again


Elizabeth’s hair in this scene is strangely reminiscent of Keri Russell’s infamous Felicity haircut. (Season six)

9. Cowboy Phil

Howdy, ya’ll.

Russian spy, or Texas high school football booster? (Season five)

8. “Wendy”


“Wendy,” an enterprising Washington DC consultant, is convincing and seductive enough to get a young intern in a senator’s office to unwittingly give up government secrets. (Season 6)

7. “Jim Baxter”


“Jim,” the sleaziest of all of Philip’s aliases, befriends a high school student whose father works in the CIA. Sensing a theme here? Philip and Elizabeth have done some unspeakable things, and wore some unspeakable wigs while doing them. (Seasons three through six)

6. “Brenda”


Elizabeth looks—and acts—nothing like herself in this important disguise from the show’s fifth season.

5. “Fernando”


He officially doesn’t have a name, but Rhys took it upon himself to call him “Fernando.” (Season one)

4. Ready for takeoff


Philip’s airline pilot and Elizabeth’s flight attendant were probably the couple’s most elaborate alter egos. (Season five)

3. “Stephanie”


Elizabeth pretends to be an in-home healthcare worker for a dying woman, because her husband works for the US government. How nice of her. (Season six)

2. The emos


Not only does Philip amazingly look like Ringo Starr circa 1966, but these disguises also provided us with a great montage to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” (video) back in season three.

1. “Clark”


“Clark,” as weaselly as he was, was so convincing that he was able to seduce, and eventually marry, Martha, the secretary of the head of the CIA’s counter-intelligence division. Clark got her to plant a bug in his office. I mean, just look at him. (Seasons one through five)

Honorable mentions

“Justin Nezer” and “Kelly Mainstill”

Yes hello here is my very real government badge.

Elizabeth looks somewhat convincing, but Philip looks like a kid dressed up as a police detective for Halloween. (Season one)

Mustache man


Gene Shalit, is that you? (Season two)

Elizabeth goes to art school


Congrats on your new apartment in Williamsburg! (Season four)

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