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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ is the perfect target

Amanda Riha

The line between love and hate has always been a thin one. And in the world of film and TV, when espionage, gunfire and bloodied knuckles can be just as romantic as any other meet-cute, there’s perhaps no better example than “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”

The original “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” was released in 2005 and quickly elevated to cult-film status thanks to its leads, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The duo played Jane and John Smith, respectively, who are in a failing marriage of convenience in an attempt to hide their identities as assassins from each other. However, once they get assigned to kill each other, their charade begins to unravel as their lives get thrown on the line.

Prime Video’s 2024 series “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” quickly makes it clear that this is not a reboot of the film. While the show does follow Jane (Maya Erskine) and John (Donald Glover) Smith, this iteration of the ultimate spy couple starts with them knowing each other’s secret identities straight from the start; in fact, they’re actually working together.

But while the Smiths might be attending missions for a mysterious and altruistic espionage company, the reality is that they don’t know each other. The condition of creating new lives full of luxury and danger is that they must leave their real identities behind, in favor of an inconspicuous married life.

It’s clear from the beginning few minutes of the first episode that Jane and John have a spark, but the possibility of it either burning out or blowing up makes it even more enticing. The push-and-pull between cold and calculated Jane and outgoing and overbearing John creates a simmering tension that pulls you in from their first meeting.

The relationship between the Smiths is the driving force behind what makes “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” so ridiculously good. The plot is fairly slow-moving; each episode generally focuses on a singular mission or event in their lives, with time jumps used as a reference for the months passing between the two.

And while it would be very easy for this formula to drag on, the allure of watching Jane and John break apart and smash the pieces of their relationship back together is more than enough to keep the eight-episode season interesting. The scenes between the couple are heady, teetering on the ever-delicate balance of loving to kill people together and together killing the person they love.

The last episode takes a turn, however, and completely rips apart the previous flow of the show. It’s fast-paced and high-stakes, the kind of television that pulls you to the edge of your seat and fills your stomach with anxiety-riddled butterflies. But when the final minutes fade away to the credits, it’s impossible not to be white-knuckled and desperately waiting for more.

One of the pillars of the original “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is without a doubt its sexiness. The femme and homme fatale appeal of 2005’s Jane and John is what much of the film banks on to push its plot along. And while Erskine and Glover are certainly not a chore to watch (especially not in the show’s incredible wardrobe), the seductiveness of the series comes just as much from the stars’ chemistry as it does their appearances.

Every argument is charged, every glance feels intentional. As the show progresses, it grows harder to determine whether the Smiths are about to kiss or kill each other. But its unpredictability is what makes the show so enticing.

The success of the series is largely thanks to Erskine and Glover’s stellar performances. However, the series was first announced with Phoebe Waller-Bridge attached as both Jane and an executive producer, before leaving the production due to creative differences. And while Erskine was not originally slated to play Jane, it’s hard to imagine the series without her starring in it.

Erskine is perhaps most well-known for playing a fictionalized version of her middle-school self in the critically acclaimed “PEN15.” Videos from the series of her jazz scatting at the dinner table or making fun of a classmate whose mom died have gone viral on TikTok, which makes her 180 from comedy to drama all the more impressive.

Glover’s soft-hearted version of John brings an unexpected warmth to the show. Where Jane is driven and mission-focused, John tails behind as his dedication to the human connection leaves the couple vulnerable — both to failed missions and their feelings for each other.

It’s still up in the air whether or not “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” will return for a second season, but with the series’ success — it was the No. 1 show on Prime Video in 130 countries, according to Deadline — the possibility for the Smiths’ return looks promising.

While the future of Jane and John is unclear, the series as it stands is a testament to some of the best of what TV has to offer. After all, the couple that kills together, stays together.

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About the Contributors
Zoe Leone
Zoe Leone, Arts & Life Editor
Amanda Riha
Amanda Riha, Design Editor

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