The Mr. and Mrs. Smith series deserves all your attention. The show is a wonderful ode to the 2005 movie of the same name, but is also entirely different from it. Creators Francesca Sloane and Donald Glover have ingeniously fused a lot of elements to make Mr. and Mrs. Smith fall under a myriad of genres. Action, romance, drama, comedy: everything exists in the perfect mix to deliver an entertaining series that spans just 8 episodes.
The show twists the crux of the movie, but also bears a striking similarity to it. A lonely woman and man get recruited as spies for a company, but are partnered with the guise of a fake marriage. They become Jane and John Smith, and navigate their abrupt new life together. Initially wary and hesitant of each other, John and Jane fall freely into letting themselves known to each other. But no spy life is easy. And when love and working together are added to the mix, the three become a spectacle for others to watch.
Unlike the movie version, Mr. and Mrs. Smith is very character driven. They are the central parts of the story, and not their job. John and Jane Smith are brilliantly written for the show. Not only are they the exact opposites of each other, but are complete with their flaws for the audience to see. Glover plays John Smith, the optimistic partner to Maya Erskine’s pessimistic Jane Smith. They are written to resemble Yin and Yang; John is usually laid back and a planning-along-the-way kind of man, while Jane is meticulous and likes to have a plan beforehand. John is also an extrovert, and can bond with people easily, unlike Jane who is extremely reserved and cold. It is this very oppositeness that makes them a great team, and causes distance between them down the line.
Their dynamic on the show transpires exactly like an actual married couple – complete with a (suspicious) couple therapy. They go from being distanced from one another to being worried about if their house guests liked their food. Mr. and Mrs. Smith is much more honest and deep compared to the movie, where the relationship was assessed on a more superficial level. In the show however, the audience gets a very close look into the bond. It gets dirty and raw towards the end in the series, unlike the movie. One gets to see who faulted where, and even pick John or Jane’s side of it all in the show.
Sloane and Glover do not make their Mr. and Mrs. Smith perfect spies. Most spy shows and movies portray spies as invincible characters and a slyness that is humanely impossible to have. But the Smiths aren’t that. The series is not as polished as the movie, which somehow makes it better. Neither character mimics their movie counterparts. Glover’s John is not as suave as Brad Pitt’s John, and Erskine’s Jane does not have the femme fatale potential like Angelina Jolie’s. Despite having an elite front, John and Jane do mess up on their jobs. Like a corporate job, they are even sent warnings from their boss, who has a very eerie presence throughout the series.
Glover and Erskine give a great performance as the spy couple. Glover puts his comic timing to use in an excellent way to bring in the comic relief in John, the funnier of the two. Erskine is equally good in playing the cold-minded Jane, but who is a completely different person with John. Also featuring are supporting performances from Netflix’s Narcos-fame, Wagner Moura, and Parker Posey.
The show is also not paced like the general action show. Action makes a very little part of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and is generally slow paced as it focuses around the two characters. The action is also brought into a country like Italy, to where the genre is never associated. Sloane and Glover did not spare even the iconic Lake Como for this purpose. The ending is very, very ambiguous, and a lot of interpretations can be made from it. It is in an extremely good position to begin a second season from (which we would love), or exist as a standalone limited series. It is both a cliffhanger and a resolution at the same time.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith is the kind of show that makes your day. The series is like a breath of fresh air in the spy genre, which makes it such a worthwhile watch. It is intense, yes, but not in the usual manner of things in the movie. It also pays some great homages to some of the iconic scenes from the original 2005 movie, and is perhaps one of the best ways to mark inspirations in cinema.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith is streaming on Prime Video.