Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Season 1 REVIEW – Espionage Goodness

It's not the sexy, swoony spy thriller you're expecting - it's something much better.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Mr. and Mrs. Smith

The initial reception to this series when the trailer first came out was not good. The title immediately brought comparisons to the 2005 flick with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and most have forgotten the older TV series in 1996 with the same name. There’s even a Hitchcock screwball comedy of the same name from 1941. People were confused – is this a reboot or something new?

Well, I guess it is kind of a reboot, since it has the same premise as the 1996 series, but I think that’s as far as the similarities go.

John (Donald Glover) and Jane (Maya Erskine) meet for the first time at their new home together. They’re strangers who are now legally married, with their married status supposedly being a way to make it easier for them to carry out their spy activities. Both Jane and John have tried to apply to other agencies, but no one would take them, so they accepted this gig. We’re watching a pair of people new to espionage, and it’s oh so hilarious. Usually in these types of shows, the spies are just unbelievably superhuman – they can do literally everything. This isn’t the case here for John and Jane, who commit egregious errors and very unspy-like behaviour. But that’s the charm of the series. If I wanted to see cool spy stuff, I’d watch a Bond film or something.

This show is really all about the idea of relationships and marriage, and what it means to be committed to someone in this day and age. When they first meet, there’s a spark, but Jane is quick to draw the line between the professional and personal. Just because their missions require them to work together does not mean they need to be romantically involved. But when you’re forced to spend all this time with someone – on stakeouts and missions – it’s inevitable that what was once distinct won’t be as distinct anymore.

The most compelling part of this show is really the conversations Jane and John have with each other. Their conversations feel authentic – how it moves from the awkward and the tentative, to “I hope you die because you’re not texting me back” after they get to know each other more. Glover and Erskine are so good. They’re both funny people, and the writing allows them to flex their comedic chops. There are so many comedic set pieces that are pulled off so well, and they work because it feels true to real life. First dates are usually awkward and maybe even a little off-putting, until you share something personal about yourself and the other person responds in a way that makes you feel a little less alone. Living together means so much of the mystery that you had during the dating days is now gone. You’re maybe more clingy and less concerned with holding your cards close to your chest. There’s also a certain vulnerability that comes with that, as you reveal more and more of your true self.

The flirting, the teasing, the banter – it’s all so good. Glover and Erskine have fantastic chemistry together, and as you watch them, you’re constantly wondering ‘will they/won’t they’, but we rationalise that they must be feeling what we’re feeling. The amount of star power in this series is staggering. Just in the first few episodes alone you have actors like Alexander Skarsgård, John Turturro and Paul Dano.

You’ll find yourself watching episode after episode because of how likeable Jane and John are. There’s also the whole mystery of who hired them and what the bigger agenda is. The original 1996 show was a fun time, and was cancelled way too soon, so I’m glad we’re getting another version of this, and hopefully, this series will have more legs than its predecessor.

Review screener provided.

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Honestly, 8 episodes is not enough for a show this good. We need more episodes of Donald Glover and Maya Erskine just hanging out together. Mr. and Mrs. Smith is such a TV treat.