The Americans — the phenomenal FX drama about two KGB officers posing undercover in the United States at the height of the Cold War — is filled with characters who are constantly torn between country and family, love and duty, morality and self-preservation. One such person is Oleg Igorevich Burov (played by Costa Ronin), a KGB bureaucrat who faces increasingly risky assignments and entanglements all while being типа красавчик (totally kind of hot).
As The Americans comes close to ending its six-season run, join us as we unpack our sweet, possibly doomed Soviet crush.
Gabriella Paiella, senior writer: Alright comrades, let’s start where we always do: When did you first realize that Oleg is totally kind of hot?
Lisa Ryan, senior writer: I have only been watching The Americans for about a month and a half (I have watched every episode though — I have no life) and I didn’t realize Oleg was hot at first. His character was a spoiled dick, but then when he started being nice to Nina … everything changed for me. Suddenly I went from being like “ugh, Oleg” to “oh, Oleg.”
GP: I also started seeing the Oleg appeal once he got involved with Nina Sergeevna (RIP). In general, The Americans is a show I would say is often “sexy” (never forget the 69 scene!!!) but it’s also so consistently stressful that it’s rare to actually be able to appreciate that.
Anna Silman, senior culture writer: Once he moved to Russia and got a beard, that really clinched it for me. I always had affection for him, but it was more platonic, like: Aw, I love my large Russian son. I just wanted to eat borscht with him and take him shopping for outerwear at the Men’s Big and Tall Warehouse. And then suddenly a switch flicked and it was like, wait … maybe I want to kiss my large Russian son.
GP: That’s a good point about the beard. As a minister’s son, Oleg is obviously privileged and nurtured, but the beard growth symbolizes him breaking away from his family’s expectations and going from мальчик (boy) to папа (daddy). (Eric Garland don’t read this.)
AS: Congratulations on learning Russian.
GP: Oleg has definitely inspired me to learn more about Russian culture. Mostly, that thing where everyone’s always referring to each other by their first and middle names.
AS: Personally that first and middle name thing is a huge turn on for me. ‘Call me by your first and middle name, and I’ll call you by mine.’ [whispers] Oleg Igorevich.
LR: Lisa Igorevich has a nice ring to it. (I know Oleg is “fictional” but I’m definitely appointing him as my “free pass.”)
AS: Igorevich isn’t his last name, though. I don’t understand Russian nomenclature. Gaby, please explain.
GP: His last name is Burov, but Igorevich is his patronymic, according to my extensive academic knowledge of Russian history (a frantic Quora search 30 seconds ago).
AS: I’d also like to point everyone to Costa Ronin’s Instagram account, which is lovely.
GP: Wow, nice to see Oleg literally anywhere besides a bench in a discreet nighttime location, a dark alleyway, or a drab government building.
AS: Oleg and I have so much in common. We both enjoy long walks in discreet nighttime locations, we’re not fans of government surveillance, we both like soup…
LR: It’s hard for me to acknowledge that Oleg is not a real person though, so Costa’s account makes me sad.
AS: Recently I learned (via Instagram) that he was also starring on Homeland. I am glad Costa Ronin is getting work. He’s cornering the market on “Russian guy on spy show” (at least, this is the part I assume he plays, though I have not watched Homeland since Timothée Chalamet was one it).
GP: I had no idea the dreadful child was on Homeland!
AS: Back to Oleg, another thing that I love about him is that he genuinely tries to do what he thinks is right. He has principles. He’s like the Russian Stan in a way.
LR: Yeah, it’s really nice when he betrays Russia for the good of the world.
GP: Do we feel like Oleg is doomed? I feel like Oleg is doomed.
LR: Oh man. I hope not. I could see him dying a heroic death.
AS: Oleg is definitely doomed, which only adds to his allure. He is willing to die to build a better future for his people, which is one of the qualities I look for in a man.
GP: Assuming that Oleg isn’t doomed, what sort of ending do you want to see for him?
AS: I would like Oleg to become president of Russia once the Soviet Union collapses. I would also like to see Costa Ronin play the leading-man in a wacky rom-com.
LR: I guess I hope Oleg defects and joins the FBI and works with Stan, if Stan is also alive. And then they are partners for the rest of their lives.
GP: I would personally like Oleg to go home and enjoy a nice peaceful life with his wife and child, for him to withstand the massive upheaval about to come to his homeland, and for him to also keep the beard because it’s really working for him.
LR: At least we all agree that, no matter what happens, Oleg looks good with his beard.