The Pitch: When John (Donald Glover) and Jane (Maya Erskine) first meet, they’re strangers — but they’re also now legally married. It’s all part of their cover as Smiths, members of a highly secretive spy organization about which they know very little, except that the pay is good and the work is exciting.
It takes a little bit of time for John and Jane to connect, but soon their relationship goes from professional partnership to something much more like a real marriage. And along with that comes all the problems most married couples face, including disagreements, insecurities, and even concerns about fidelity. All normal stuff for two people trying to make a relationship work. Though most people in a committed relationship don’t have as much access to firearms and explosives.
‘Til Death Do Them Part: While Mr. and Mrs. Smith is directly inspired by the 2005 film (directed by Doug Liman and written by Simon Kinberg), it should be clear from the description above that creators Donald Glover and Francesca Sloane have taken a different approach to the premise. While at least the first half of the original movie was all about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie hiding the reality of their lives from each other, the Prime Video series begins with John and Jane very much on the same page about their relationship and their objectives.
However, removing those initial layers of deception from the concept doesn’t mean John and Jane don’t have secrets from each other, which is just one compelling facet of the series, which keeps the action as grounded as possible without skimping on literal and figurative fireworks. It’s a cliche to joke about how relationship drama can seem like a matter of life and death, but when you’re in the middle of it, it can really feel that way, and exploring that dynamic with literal bullets flying overhead proves meaty enough for more than one season of television.
Lawful Wedded Husband and Wife: Even in an age where plenty of established stars drop by television for a quick cameo (just consider Atlanta, as one example), the caliber of guest stars enlisted for the series is remarkable, with standouts including John Turturro as a devious and deviant target, Sarah Paulson as Jane and John’s therapist, and Parker Posey and Wagner Moura as another couple John and Jane encounter.
Meanwhile, for as dominant a cultural presence as Glover has become over the past decade, he really hasn’t actually done that much acting on screen during that time. In fact, after you eliminate cameos like his various Spider-Man appearances, since leaving Community in 2014 he’s been featured in the 2015 horror film The Lazarus Effect, modern masterpiece Magic Mike XXL, Ridley Scott’s The Martian, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and of course the deliciously unconventional Atlanta. Thus, it’s pretty special to see him lead a more comparatively straightforward series like this, revealing heretofore untapped potential as a romantic lead.