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‘It’s A Love Story, Baby Just Say… Don’t Shoot!’: A Mr & Mrs. Smith Review

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

“I vow to never make you feel delusional for thinking your cat’s never gonna die. And I vow never to kill you,” John (Donald Glover) earnestly whispers to Jane (Maya Erskine) as they sit together outside a cozy lake house in Italy. It’s such a tender moment that the audience almost completely forgets the high-speed chase and chaotic gun fight that the pair engaged in just minutes before. If you look past the broken glass and bullet shells, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (2024) primarily tells a story of human connection in the age of disillusionment and the lengths we go to preserve it.

Amazon’s latest television series “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is a dramedy that follows two lonely individuals who become agents for a mysterious spy organization. They relinquish their past identities and pose as a married couple, assuming the pseudonyms “John Smith” and “Jane Smith.” Each episode operates on a mission-by-mission basis and delves deeper into the pair’s twisted relationship. At first, awkwardness ensues, as the two are strangers forced to live with one another. It’s an endearing take on the arranged marriage trope found within romance novels, except in this version the couple in question is at risk of getting shot or having their bodies blown to bits at any moment. By the fourth episode, this tension has blossomed into full-out codependence: “No, but I, like, really, really, care about you,” Jane reveals, suppressing tears.

The dynamic between John and Jane sets them on a pathway for disaster. Jane’s antisocial tendencies constantly clash with John’s neurotic desperation for love and validation. Resentment grows and grows until they inevitably explode. In the sixth episode, “Couples Therapy (Naked & Afraid),” the pair seeks out the assistance of a marriage counselor (Sarah Paulson). They pose as software engineers and hilariously attempt to spell out their issues through computer metaphors. It’s a cleverly-crafted episode told through three separate visitations with their therapist. Over the course of these meetings, the lighting dims and the couple moves farther away from one another on the couch. The audience watches as a monstrous gulf separates John and Jane, leaving them as isolated as ever. In a tense argument shown through a flashback, John yells: “You don’t understand feelings. You don’t know what it’s like to care about somebody. You just pretend.” Despite how irregular their lives are, it’s a painfully realistic portrait of a doomed marriage.

The series was notably inspired by the film “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (2005) starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Many have prematurely written off the show as just another poor, “nostalgia-bait” remake and have subsequently been reluctant to engage with it. In all honesty, though, the similarities between the series and the cult-classic film start and end with their title and spy-related premise. “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (2024) is not interested in providing an overtly sexy tone for viewers. You won’t find Maya Erskine’s “Jane” kicking ass in lingerie whilst whispering witty remarks with a hushed tone. There are still moments of intimacy, but “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” (2024) certainly plays up its quirk factor. In a moment of vulnerability, Jane reveals to John that she took the spy job because no other intelligence agency would accept her. John replies: “If it makes you feel any better, nobody would take me, either.” He then begins to hum, dubbing Jane and himself as “two losers on a train.” In terms of content, a more relevant comparison would be to “The Americans” (2015), a television series about two KGB spies living in the United States. Tonally, it mirrors the dry humor and banal violence of “Barry” (2018). By combining those two acclaimed series, the audience is given a unique take on the spy thriller genre.

Prestige television is filled with the decaying marriage archetype, whether it be Tony and Carmela from “The Sopranos” (1999), Don and Betty from “Mad Men” (2007), or Tom and Shiv from “Succession” (2018). It’s one of my favorite tropes in media and perhaps what drew me most to “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” The audience watches John and Jane crumble just as quickly as they formed. It echoes sentiments of the ‘Before’ trilogy (1995-2015), in which you innocently hope that naivete will prevail, but are met with the crushing reality of marriage and sincere human partnership every single time. In a way, John and Jane’s relationship is analogous with the creation myth. The pair become Adam and Eve, strangers brought together by an all-powerful entity (at one point, Jane asks another agent why they act as if the spy company is God) who are utterly alone in the world together. A spy belonging to a rival agency tells Jane: “He [John] does say that he wonders whether or not you guys are compatible, but he also says he wants to be with you incompatibly.” The domestic misery and hopeless indignation between the pair is what makes “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” so interesting to watch. Through it all, though, it is clear that they deeply care for one another.

The finale of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” leaves more questions than answers. We still don’t know much about the ominous company and organization that manages all aspects of John and Jane’s life. Given the cliffhanger, it is unclear what direction the series will take in the next season. Some online are theorizing that it will acquire an anthology format and present the viewers with a brand-new “John” and “Jane.” I hope that they continue the story where it left off, but I am open to alternative approaches as well.

The charming dialogue, riveting visuals, and outstanding acting in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” has made it one of my favorite television releases of the year thus far. It paints a portrait of the complications that arise from marriage and how often they come in conflict with one’s stubborn yearning for sincere connection. “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is deeply human, too. I appreciate the nuance that the writer’s incorporated into John and Jane’s respective characters. They each feel very fleshed-out and “lived in.” Though the reception of this show has been lukewarm, I highly encourage you to ignore the naysayers and give it a chance. With exploding cakes, truth serum, farmer’s markets, bloody ski trips, and tortuous double dates, I am positive that “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” has something to attract every type of viewer.

Aytek is a freshman journalism major at the University of Florida. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in newsmagazine writing. When she isn't penning articles, Aytek could talk your ear off about her favorite television shows, movies, albums, and books. She has an interest in analyzing media and providing cultural commentary. Aytek also enjoys visiting book stores, art museums, record stores, and coffee shops.