John In ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith,’ Explained: Why Did John Not Get Along With Jane?


John Smith, of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, was the more basic person in the marriage. He describes himself as having been called ‘emotionally immature’ in his introduction, but that is something every man has heard at some point or another. A huge chunk of his character, as seen in the show, was reactionary to his wife, Jane Smith.

Jane says that John is the more likable one among the two of them. He is certainly more conversational and cares to be liked by others. This also happens to be the major difference between John and Jane. Both of them are cut from the same cloth and have similar insecurities about their likeability, but while Jane compensates for it by being extremely closed off, John’s method is to put on a front of charm and friendship that misleads people into not really knowing him. John is a bit of a people-pleaser, even though the opinion of the person in front is of no consequence to his life. For example, when John and Jane were at the ski resort, John could not brush off the older couple, even though they had a job to do, whereas Jane had no such problem. Jane may have come across as rather rude in that interaction, but it is worth noting that if John had not been so focused on being polite for their favorable opinion, they both could have tailed their target, and Jane wouldn’t have needed to be so harsh. On the flip side, it is also worth considering whether John was being the extra nice guy because he knew that Jane wouldn’t mind being the bad guy and getting them out of the situation. John must have been counting on Jane’s no-nonsense attitude to get them out of the troubles of his people-pleasing ways. This is a pattern not uncommon to most married couples.

Another point of contention between John and Jane was that the latter thought that her husband became a different person in front of his friends. Again, this is a complaint common in most households. The wives are used to seeing a different version of their husbands in front of their families, their friends, or even at their workplace. This is usually a person that women don’t like, and that places them in the conflict of trying to understand whether they know the person they married.

For women, the things expected of them or the way they are treated doesn’t really change with the place they are in. Families, whether it be the husband’s or their own, will most likely treat the woman as someone secondary who exists to take care of the needs of the husband. Meanwhile, workplace discrimination is still more common than one would like to admit. Therefore, at every step of the way, the woman’s attitude cannot change because her circumstances don’t differ. Her friends may be her only safe space most of the time because they are in similar situations, and they understand what she is going through. Meanwhile, men are coddled at home and at work. As for their friends, from what we have seen in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a healthy dose of locker room talk is essential to maintaining the facade of masculinity, which is what gains them respect in their circles. This is why men find themselves switching gears in their personalities depending on the person they are with.

John blamed Jane for not understanding why he was close to his mother. He said that Jane was probably insensitive, and she would never understand what it meant to take care of a parent. But John forgot that there is a huge difference in how parents treat sons and daughters. Just like John was the only person available to take care of his mother, Jane’s father had no one to turn to except his daughter. Yet, daughters are not seen as the caregivers of their own parents; instead, they are ‘societally’ expected to get married and take care of their husbands’ parents. This is a deeply ingrained sexist expectation that affects how sons and daughters are raised. It is one of the many reasons sons are coddled, so that they will feel the duty and obligation to take care of their parents in their old age, and it is also why daughters are usually given tough love because they are taught manners and decorum that would appease the less forgiving parents of their future husband. Jane was able to break away from her father because she knew that because of the traditional expectations and whatever personal issues they had between them, he had done something unforgivable, and she did not owe him anything.

Meanwhile, John had gone through no such thing. However, his closeness to his mother was a risk to the mission and their new jobs. Yet, John could not escape that because of his belief that he was the next caretaker of his mother, a noble but sexist notion. As someone who had probably faced the worst of sexism all her life, Jane was sensitive to it, whether it directly affected her or not. Being a spy, she was not alien to the concept of putting on a different personality for the sake of a mission. Yet, it irked her when her husband made sexist jokes to fit in with people. That is because she couldn’t differentiate whether he was actually like that or if it was an act. He had made sexist jokes on occasion when they were together, but they could be dismissed as something deliberately provocative. However, when he said those with his friends, he implied that these were his actual thoughts. This could be one of the many reasons why Jane found it hard to trust him and let up control, because she was scared that he would see her as something ‘less than’ if she showed her weakness and let him lead.

Maybe John isn’t a feminist or even an ally, but he made Jane feel comfortable. They felt similarly about many things, and if not for their different communication styles, they got along rather well, better than most married couples. By the end of the series, as John and Jane understood each other more, they were able to get over their mental blocks and trust each other. John understood that Jane had always been his safe space, but she had not shown it because he himself had not made her feel that secure, and she needed it no matter what she said. If John Smith survives the season, his marriage will undoubtedly have a new lease of life.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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