Francesca Sloane loves those scenes in spy movies when a man and a woman on the run evade their pursuers with an impromptu kiss. With little warning, the man draws the woman close to him, plants one on her lips and — just for as long as it takes for the bad guys to lose their trail — awakens the dormant passion between them.
Given the chance to write her own version of this scene, Sloane made a few alterations. It appears in the second episode of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” her new Amazon series, created with Donald Glover and based on the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie film from 2005.
Rather than have the typical embrace in a dark alley, John Smith (Glover) and Jane Smith, played by Maya Erskine, share their first kiss while crawling on all fours in a brightly lit parlor, with a looming, perverted billionaire (John Turturro) commanding them to lick and sniff each other like dogs.
“I thought, ‘What is the grossest, most awkward, weirdest way to give them their first kiss,’” Sloane said in a recent video call from her home in Los Angeles. “It just felt like a really fun and silly way to play with the trope.”
Though “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is Sloane’s first production as a showrunner, she has a record of turning familiar story conventions on their head. For Glover’s breakout series, “Atlanta” — a show never afraid to zig where others would zag — she wrote or co-wrote three mold-breaking episodes: “The Big Payback,” about a world where reparations become reality; “The Goof Who Sat by the Door,” a mockumentary about the rise and fall of a Black Disney executive; and “Snipe Hunt,” in which the show’s central will-they-or-won’t-they relationship is resolved.
“If there’s something that she believes in, she is kind of relentless,” Glover said in an interview. “In a writers’ room, it’s easy to just throw up your hands when you get stuck and move on, but she never really allowed us or herself to do that.”
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