In an open letter, the co-creator and showrunner, Sloane admitted that when Donald Glover, who co-created and stars in the series, first asked her if she wanted to make the show, she thought he was “kidding around”.
“Based on the creative work that both Donald and I have done in the past, writing a series based on a rom-com action spy thriller felt like an odd fit for us. But Donald, in his Donald way, expressed that part of the excitement in taking this on was that it was a big swing,” she wrote.
The series was first announced two years ago in February 2021 with Phoebe Waller Bridge and Glover attached before the Fleabag creator exited later that year.
Sloane, who worked with Glover on Atlanta and also wrote on Fargo, also admitted that she understood why some people wondered why two creatives responsible for groundbreaking television would want to turn a Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie movie into a series.
“While we asked questions, so did the internet trolls. Once we were announced, we saw the comment, “Who needs this show?” We didn’t blame them. In a culture heavily inundated with remakes, this was a reasonable reaction. No one would need a show that retold the same blockbuster movie. But what we set out to do was to make something wholly original,” she added.
The series stars Maya Erskine in the role previously eyed for Waller-Bridge as appearances from Michaela Coel, John Turturro, Paul Dano and Parker Posey.
It is set to premiere on February 2 (watch new featurette above).
Sloane said the idea was to “subvert” the spy genre, by focusing on the characters, their relationship and marriage.
“As artists I think it’s typical to begin a creative journey with a boatload of philosophical questions. What would a series feel like if our heroes weren’t the two most beautiful people on the planet, but instead, were two lonely people, two underdogs, wanting more from life than what they currently had? What if our John and Jane could be anyone, could be you and me? If James Bond put it all on the line out of loyalty to his country, we had to consider why some might do the same in America,” she said.
Glover and Erskine play John and Jane Smith and Sloane said that the show is about them being “clumsy humans”. She said that they will wear stylish clothes and there will be international set pieces, “exciting” shoot-em-ups but it will also feature them “first farting around each other”, engage with their in-laws and “eventually using each other’s deepest vulnerabilities as leverage when sh*t hits the fan”. The characters also sound a bit more relatable than Pitt and Jolie’s beautiful couple – when Glover and Erskine’s characters are chased through Brooklyn, they “end up with blisters on their feet”.
She said that the series is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and Ingmar Bergman as well as reality series such as Married At First Sight.
“On our show, we go on the journey of seeing these two ordinary people become extraordinary. We watch them become stronger spies but more vulnerable humans. We hope that you laugh. We hope that it makes you feel something. We hope that you enjoy the big swing,” she added.