top of page

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Amazon Studios, 2024-

45 minutes

Creator:

Donald Glover and Francesca Sloane

Reading Time:

6 minutes

Mr. and Mrs. SmithHope Springs Internal (RLQDVWKEF6DHSGLT)
00:00 / 06:01
Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Rosemary

Image of show's tea brew

Movies and TV shows with intense action

Oolong

Image of show's tea brew

Movies and TV shows that make you laugh or involve physical activities like dance and exercise

Chris Chaisson

2024-02-18

Numerous articles are written about the decreasing number of young people getting married (the median age of a first marriage has been increasing, per Forbes). At the end of the day, there is a financial component to the institution of marriage that has muddied the waters for millennials and older Gen-Z members. Even with these shifts in trends and generational perspectives on marriage, marital issues will always be relatable to most of the country, as many have at least witnessed the ups and downs of marriage in their own households. For this reason, the most recognizable people in our culture typically have a spouse and possibly children. Their day-to-day celebrations and squabbles have mass appeal and can win hearts, as evidenced by top-selling gossip magazines and long-running shows about married couples and their families. This is the case even if their careers are not the least bit relatable. Such is the premise for the TV series adaptation, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.


Adapted from the 2005 Brangelina blockbuster, as well as a lesser known 1996 TV series starring Maria Bello and Scott Bakula, Donald Glover’s newest project revolves around John (Glover) and Jane (Maya Erskine), two strangers thrust together by a secret organization to carry out spy missions with the cover of an arranged marriage. While they initially swear off anything physical and struggle to create chemistry, John and Jane eventually bond and forge a romance in the midst of their dangerous operations. Throughout the eight episodes, the audience sees the many phases of relationships play out: honeymoon, jealousy, exposed secrets, and differing long-term desires. Despite their work not being relatable, everything about their arguments and personality clashes feel like something most viewers have experienced firsthand.


The overall theme of the series is that relationships involve a lot of hard work and communication, at times seeming even more difficult than the life-and-death situations of being a spy. In many scenes, John and Jane argue about their relationship while they are in imminent danger. Resolving their differences seems to be harder than fighting off bad guys, acquiring assets or tailing a moving target who is on to them. Just as in its aforementioned predecessors, the violence and suspense often seem trivial when superseded by the bickering of a married couple. Mr. and Mrs. Smith is an interesting study in how our perception of the elements in a movie or series can be relative to whatever else is happening on screen. Without John and Jane’s arguments, the action scenes could have the suspense of a sequence from The Bourne trilogy, a Bond movie, or a Mission: Impossible film. Imagine Matt Damon or Tom Cruise arguing with their significant other about who was supposed to take the garbage out in the middle of combat. Imagine the Benny Hill theme music playing while Daniel Craig pummels some henchman; it kind of overtakes the violence at hand.


In an interview many years ago, comedian Chris Rock discussed how most household names of stand-up comedy are (or were) married. As funny as a single performer can be, his or her problems do not have the same relatability as someone with a family and a spouse to keep happy. While they can be very successful in the industry, they may not have the same universal fan base. Often, shows and movies present complete escapism or complete relatability. There may be a small thematic element of one in a movie that is about the other, but rarely do they contain a balance of both. Mr. and Mrs. Smith creates its humor by juxtaposing an up-and-down marriage (relatable) with the adventures of an international spy (escapism). It is hard not to giggle at the notion that when you have a life partner, nothing could make you put your petty squabbles aside, even the most dangerous possible situations. If you’ll argue with your spouse while fighting off a villain trying to stab you to death, when will you not argue with your spouse?


When this series was first advertised, many people thought of the feature film and balked at the casting choices. After all, the film consisted of two A-list actors, both known largely for their sex appeal and action roles. Glover and Erskine are both known for comedy, with much of Erskine’s work coming in the voice-over world (Bob’s Burgers, Big Mouth). In fact, Paul Dano (The Fabelmans), who plays their next-door neighbor, is a larger movie star than either lead. I would argue this casting makes perfect sense, as both Glover and Erskine have the comedic timing to do a series that is ultimately based in humor. Their place on the totem pole of in-demand actors should probably take a backseat to their on-screen chemistry, which is pretty copacetic. A bird’s-eye view of the show could lead you to conclude that it is indicative of the disappearance of “movie stars,” precipitated by the takeover of superhero franchises. I would rather view it as bolstering the comedic vibes of the series, while simultaneously representing an interracial couple (black man and Japanese woman) that seldom appears onscreen. Having co-stars from underrepresented groups, each with comedic backgrounds, further illustrates how anyone’s relationship issues can be funny and relatable.


As far as romantic spy thrillers go, most play it pretty straight, with Mr. and Mrs. Smith giving a rare comedic twist that foregrounds the relationship. Outside of the movie and series it is based on, the closest comparison to draw is likely the mid-90s thriller True Lies, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. Like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, it consists of a spy trying to save his marriage and includes its fair share of humorous scenes. Donald Glover’s newest project drops the mundane, sympathetic problems of a rocky relationship into a world of gunfights and hand-to-hand combat, providing us a chance to relate and escape all at once.

Sign-up for new reviews, exclusives, deep dives, and more

Thanks for joining us!

bottom of page