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Home: The Toast

This TV publicity image released by FX shows Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, left, and Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings in a scene from the spy drama "The Americans." (AP Photo/FX, Craig Blankenhorn)

The situation is all too common. You have a close friend (“BFF”). You spend lots of time together. You adore one another. And then a major life change occurs: she discovers The Americans. Suddenly, you’re no longer her number one.

This can be a difficult time, but don’t worry – you’re not alone. As many as 75% of us will at some point have a friend who has recently discovered The Americans, according to a study conducted by a group of people. So how do you help your friend? Here’s exactly what she needs from you.

1. Listen and offer support. She may be distressed that she doesn’t own enough wigs or that her kitchen isn’t painted the perfect 1980s shade of pink. Tell her you’ll take her to Home Depot to try to find the paint. Offer to call the show’s producers and enlist their help.

2. Encourage her to leave the house, if only for a short walk. If she is resistant, remind her that the episodes will still be there when she gets back. Use a soothing tone, as if you’re speaking to a baby manatee.

3. Try to cheer her up. She may be depressed that her life isn’t interesting enough because she’s not a Russian spy. Perhaps she says things like, “I need to go to the grocery store to buy more Saran Wrap, but I wish I were checking on the cable traffic back and forth between Moscow.”

4. Stop by for an afternoon so she has time to take a hot shower and blow dry her hair. She doesn’t realize that she smells.

5. Try to ascertain how much red wine she has been drinking. The answer is probably at least one bottle per evening of The Americans. Encourage her to make chamomile tea.

6. Urge her to get some sleep. Although she’s unlikely to admit it, last night at 3 a.m., she moved from the couch to her bed, where she propped her laptop up on a pillow and proceeded to watch another three episodes.

7. Assure her that her eyebrows may not be Keri Russell’s eyebrows, but they are still fine eyebrows.

8. Introduce topics of conversation to distract her. She’ll want to talk about what an asshole Reagan was or how we just don’t fight secret wars the way we used to. Try to get her to discuss gardening or the weather.

9. Make some food and bring it over – preferably something that freezes beautifully, like a casserole or a lasagna. Remind her that people were really into lasagna in the 1980s.

10. Try not to judge. There are three seasons of The Americans on Amazon Prime. It is hard for your friend to handle Amazon Prime in a responsible manner.

11. Ask her whether she needs anything. Maybe she ran out of toilet paper and moved on to Kleenex and then to Vanity Fair dinner napkins. Get her some toilet paper.

12. When you stop by for a visit, don’t stay too long. Your friend doesn’t want to hang out with you anymore. She just wants to watch The Americans.

13. Help her to curb her shopping impulse. She will no doubt want to buy a lot of wool sweaters that look like Keri Russell’s sweaters. She may also seek out a pair of high-waisted Guess jeans or a bodysuit, which she will justify by saying, “Well, it wasn’t the 1980s unless you could feel snaps in your crotch.”

14. Hire a housekeeper for a month so she doesn’t have to worry about scrubbing the bathroom. Hire a professional organizer-slash-life-coach to help her to get off the couch.

15. Help her to plan for the future. When she says that now she also really wants to watch Felicity because she sort of missed the boat on that, give her a hug and remind her in a firm but kind voice that she has a job.

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Susan Harlan is an English professor at Wake Forest University, where she specializes in Shakespeare. Her essays have appeared in venues such as The Guardian US, The Morning News, Roads & Kingdoms, Nowhere, The Awl, Public Books, and Curbed.

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