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Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Mr and Mrs Smith season 1





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

John and Jane Smith’s work/life balance is a little out of whack. See, their work is their life.

They’re spies—not spies in the “let’s go through the boss’s filing cabinets and take a few pictures of secret documents” sense, but rather “let’s gun down this guy and stuff him into a suitcase” sense.

Who are they spying for? Don’t ask, because they don’t know. But whoever he/she/it is, they pay very well. And they’ve supplied Mr. and Mrs. Smith with a well-appointed house, slick new identities and even a marriage certificate.

And what an arranged marriage it was. Truth be told, they never set eyes on each other until they were hired to be Man and Wife.

Obviously, not knowing your kinda-sorta spouse can mean trouble for a kinda-sorta marriage. But you know what they say: The couple that slays together stays together.

The Spy Who Might Tolerate Me

But is that quaint saying true, necessarily? John and Jane must wonder.

They began their partnership as just that—partners. They were to be workmates and housemates, nothing more. If they had to get a bit kissy-faced to complete a mission? Fine. But they weren’t initially interested in anything else. (That was especially true of Jane, who tells John up front that she has “trust issues.”)

But their shared line of work forces them to work closely together. To trust each other. To share, even, a sort of intimacy that perhaps many real-life marriages never reach. They need to anticipate each other’s moves, finish each other’s sentences and, in very real ways, risk their lives for one another.

Naturally, this fake marriage threatens, with every new assignment, to turn into something a little more real.

But every relationship gets a little messy at times, and the Smiths’ comes with more than its share. Not only are they adjusting to each other’s quirks and foibles but also unspillable secrets and murderous intents.

Plus, what might happen if the organization they both work for eventually wants one of them out of the way? What if they are ordered to kill each other?

Zero Dark Dirty

That setup—the whole husband-and-wife-assassins-are-ordered-to-assassinate-each-other trope—was what the original Mr. and Mrs. Smith movie was based on. The 2005 flick starred the glamourous Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (and supposedly was the catalyst that destroyed Pitt’s marriage with Jennifer Aniston). It was slick, light and largely devoid of meat or meaning.

Don’t expect the same of Amazon Prime Video’s “reboot.”

This version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith is the brainchild of Francesca Sloane and Donald Glover, the creators of the quirky, critically acclaimed dramedy Atlanta. Fronted by Glover and Pen15’s Maya Erskine and filled with a collection of actors known for their eclectic, indie-centric work, this version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith promises to be more lemon drop than cotton candy, more graffiti than gloss. Like FX’s The Americans, this show uses its cloak-and-dagger conceit to examine our relationships with one another, and Glover’s scope is tightly honed on marriage.

“Let’s make a show dealing with relationships, but from this point of view, centering more on really what a marriage is and trust and teamwork and loneliness and all that stuff,” Glover told W Magazine, discussing Mr. and Mrs. Smith. “I just wanted it to be something that spoke to people right now because in a time of abundance, why do we feel lonely? The movie wasn’t about that.”

You could argue that those deeper themes are welcome. The show’s darker tone and dismal content concerns? Not so much.

While the original film was PG-13, the small-screen version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith comes with a TV-MA label, and it earns it. When people are injured or die here, it can often be bloody and even grotesque. (In a later episode, the Smiths systematically break the bones of one of their victims in a bathtub.)

Given the show’s marital themes, we see quite a bit of romance and intimacy, too (though no nudity in the early going). And the language? Yep, you can expect the harshest profanities to make sporadic but obvious appearances.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith is clever, insightful and often quite funny, and the married strangers at its center make quite the team. But when it comes to the show’s problems, some viewers may want to take cover.

Episode Reviews

Feb. 2, 2024—S1, E1: “First Date”

John and Jane Smith meet for the first time in their nicely furnished new home, where they discover a packet complete with a marriage certificate and wedding rings. They’re also given their first assignment: Follow a woman, grab the “package” she picks up and take it to a suburban address. But when they nab said package, it contains something unexpected.

The opening scene features a different couple—both apparently spies who are attacked by an unnamed assailant. There’s a huge firefight, and the husband is killed when a bullet goes through his face. (We see a small entry wound in one of his cheeks and a gaping, far more grotesque exit wound on the other.) He lies still in a pool of his own blood. His female partner is also killed (from a bullet to her chest).

A bomb goes off—blowing out the side of a building, killing nine people (we later learn) and injuring both Smiths. (Jane smears some of John’s blood on her face as part of a ruse.) During his job interview with his shadowy employers (an interview conducted, it would appear, by the employers’ AI), John’s asked if he’s killed anyone. “One, accidentally,” John says. “And 13 on purpose.” He later tells Jane about a lethal exploit of his.

The two agree to sleep in separate rooms during their first night together: A shirtless John walks in on Jane later that night, saying that it was too warm downstairs to wear one. (We see a couple of suggestions that a romantic relationship may not be far away, but nothing too tawdry.) Jane tells John a story about how she and a friend ditched school one day to have “pancakes with a pedophile.” (She was 14, she says; John is unsure whether Jane’s telling the truth or not.) The woman the two follow spends some time in a park with a much younger man. She hands him money and the two kiss passionately. A woman bears quite a bit of cleavage. We see the lower half of an early Renaissance painting featuring a nude Adam and Eve (“The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden” by Masaccio). As a distraction, John accuses a stranger of paying inappropriate attention to his (non-existent) daughter.

It’s not the only lie that he and Jane tell, and we shouldn’t be surprised: Lying is practically in their shared job description. John does yoga. Characters drink wine and champagne. When she’s told the job entails cutting off all contact with previous relationships, Jane says, “You’re going to pay me not to talk to my dad? Where do I sign?”

Characters say the f-word four times, the s-word once and “a—” three times. They also misuse both God’s and Jesus’ name once apiece.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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