This action spy drama starts off well, but goes off on a separate mission halfway through.
Note: since this series dropped as a whole, I’m reviewing all eight episodes at once. As such, there are potential spoilers for the early episodes.
In 2005, there was a film starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie called Mr. & Mrs. Smith. While all the marketing is saying this is based on said film, the only real similarity is that it’s about two spies called John and Jane Smith.
In this television ‘reboot’, we actually meet the two spies (Donald Glover as John Smith and Maya Erskine as Jane Smith) as they go through the interview process and first meet. They are undercover as a married couple, and even have a marriage license. But unlike the movie, they don’t know each other at first.
Co-created by Donald Glover and Francesca Sloan, each of the eight episodes is titled after relationship terms: “First Date”; “Second Date”; “First Vacation”, etc. And as the show progresses, the two become intimate and fall for each other. (Pretty danged fast, if you ask me. They could’ve easily played out the ‘will they or won’t they’ for an extra episode or two.) However, they have issues, and even go to couples’ therapy.
I enjoyed the show up until then: while not exactly the comedy it’s listed as, the humor does help punctuate the drama and action. It feels like it’s trying to emulate Barry, and is more drama than comedy. Both Glover and Erskine are a joy to watch as they play their parts, and thankfully they have the chemistry to pull this off. It also helps that there are a plethora of good guest stars, from John Turturro, Ron Pearlman, Parker Posey, and Sarah Paulson just to name a few. It’s fun watching the two take on assignments and get to know each other. The action scenes are excellent, choreographed to fit each of the two’s strengths.
But the second half is overwhelmed by the two disagreeing about family and ends on a low note as the two go after each other. It ends ambiguously – we’re not sure if the two have survived, and I guess that’s up to whether there’s a season 2.
Here’s my issue. One of the problems is that John wants to have kids and a family, and Jane does not. As a childfree by choice person, I am tired of this plotline always ending with the decision to have kids. Of all stories, THIS is one I would expect that it makes sense for them to not have kids: their work doesn’t exactly make it kid-friendly, and despite them falling for each other they barely know each other. It also doesn’t help that Jane Smith wants nothing to do with her father, while John still talks with his mother on a regular basis. It becomes a sticking point in their argument, and it’s never really explored that she may have good reason to not want to keep in touch with him. (I mean, she makes a comment asking what if her father had assaulted her, but it’s thrown off as a thought experiment.)
It doesn’t help that Glover is co-creator and an executive producer, so it feels like of course his character is going to be the winner in this argument. But for it to become the main plot point made me not enjoy the story as much.
Did I enjoy the show? For the most part, yes. Would I watch a second season if there is one? Tentatively yes. But I felt betrayed by the plot veering off into the child debate rather than seeing these two deal with the fact that they were basically forced together and what that all meant. The relationship feels rushed, and they could’ve explored that more.
If you’re expecting the same as the movie, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you like the idea of spy action dramadies, then give it a shot. Mr. & Mrs. Smith premieres February 2 on Amazon Prime.
Author: Angie Fiedler Sutton
Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, podcaster, and all-round fangirl geek. She has been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others.
She also produces her own podcast, Contents May Vary, where she interviews geeky people about geeky things. You can see all her work (and social media channels) at angiefsutton.com.
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