Killing Eve’: BBC America’s Feminist Assassin Series Just Went From Fun and Addictive to Essential Viewing
- 1 Killing Eve’: BBC America’s Feminist Assassin Series Just Went From Fun and Addictive to Essential Viewing
- 1.1 ‘Killing Eve’: BBC America’s Feminist Assassin Series Just Went From Fun and Addictive to Essential Viewing
- 1.2 Sunday’s episode was a killer, and will change the cat-and-mouse dynamic here on out.
- 1.3 15 Thrilling Facts About Killing Eve
- 1.4 Killing Eve Is a Sign of TV to Come
- 1.5 Recommended Reading
- 1.6 Killing Eve Review: Subverting The Spy Thriller Genre
‘Killing Eve’: BBC America’s Feminist Assassin Series Just Went From Fun and Addictive to Essential Viewing
Sunday’s episode was a killer, and will change the cat-and-mouse dynamic here on out.
[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from “Killing Eve” Episode 3, “Don’t I Know You?”]
“Killing Eve” has been a wild and daring ride so far, but it’s always kept the tone lighthearted and breezy. Sure, the gamine assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer) murders people willy-nilly throughout Europe, but it’s always done with such flair and only to peripheral characters that it felt more like fantasy violence than anything else. Death by hairpin or perfume? Come on. That’s just downright die-lightful!
Sunday’s third episode of the season broke the spell on that fantasy and marks a turning point, for when the series went from fun and addictive to essential viewing. In “Don’t I Know You?” MI-6 agent Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) has yet to be killed, but a bit of her heart dies when her former boss-turned-employee Bill (David Haig) becomes Villanelle’s latest victim.
And to be fair, Bill’s fate is telegraphed throughout the episode via the usual storytelling tropes hinting at a colorful past and a rosy future that he clearly won’t get to enjoy. Even though he’s 60, he’s a new father to an adorable hapa baby. Before heading reluctantly to Berlin, he jokes to his child, “Oh god, I’m going to die, aren’t I? Daddy’s going to die. It’s me.” Eve assures him it will only be “one trip.” And while in Germany, he reminisces about the richness of his kinky and romantic experiences back when he used to live in Charlottenburg. As soon as he recognizes Villanelle and doesn’t tell Eve, his fate is sealed.
Sandra Oh and David Haig, “Killing Eve”
Viewers can be forgiven for missing — or perhaps willfully not heeding — the signs that Bill would die. The series had not reached that level of gravity in the first two installments. Hell, the opening scene in Episode 3 is of Villanelle dispatching a Chinese colonel during his session at a kink clinic. The show, run by “Fleabag’s” Phoebe Waller-Bridge, has manipulated the viewer with over-the-top deaths and scenarios that have created a suspension of disbelief that has been extended to all expectations.
Therefore, Bill’s death may not be a surprise to some, but it’s still a shocking game-changer. For one, how he dies is a massive departure from the killings before. While audiences can cringe and chuckle at Villanelle’s previous outrageous hits, Bill’s death is both horrifying and heartbreaking in its simplicity. Villanelle knows exactly what she’s doing to Eve when she attacks Bill and therefore makes it brutal and yet intimate all at once. Stabbing him repeatedly at close range is straightforward; embracing him and gazing into his eyes as she does it makes it personal. To highlight this, it’s Eve who discovers Bill in the nightclub, just seconds too late.
Villanelle had always been played as an unpredictable psychopath, but in this episode, she has a stalker-like fascination with Eve. She uses Eve’s name as a false identity so she could kill the colonel, she steals Eve’s luggage, wears her scarf, eavesdrops on Eve’s conversation with her husband, and even lures an American tourist into role-playing as Eve in the bedroom. Hints in previous episodes reveal that Eve’s unruly hair caught her eye and could be connected to a woman named Anna who may have had a similar hair texture.
Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”
While Eve had been fascinated by female assassins in general, when she gives a description of Villanelle to the sketch artist, her intrigue with this particular one is apparent. The words she uses are sensual and poetic. Now that Villanelle has killed Bill, Eve’s professional interest will graduate into a full-blown reciprocal obsession. The cat-and-mouse games had been entertaining but now that each woman can recognize the other, and now that Villanelle has invaded Eve’s life, everything has changed. This isn’t necessarily a new dynamic, but we haven’t seen this executed so well since perhaps “Hannibal’s” Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter.
What’s Eve’s next step? Here’s a taste of what’s coming up next in Episode 4, “Sorry, Baby”:
Other highlights from the episode:
– The Chinese colonel’s safe word at the kink clinic is “frühstück,” which means “breakfast” in German.
– The playful interaction between Eve and her husband Niko () when he tells her, “All chickens lay eggs out of their asshole,” and she replies, “I love how you say that.”
– The entire sequence when Villanelle is grooming the American tourist to play “Eve” is both scary and hilarious, especially when she insists that the woman keep her tourist-y ensemble on and then instructs her, “I’m going to hide, and you are going to find me.”
– Bill revealing the depth of his understanding of kink. “A spankophile wouldn’t just spank himself, would he?” Nope. You’re absolutely correct, Bill.
15 Thrilling Facts About Killing Eve
Warning: Spoilers ahead for season one of BBC America’s Killing Eve.
If you have yet to watch Killing Eve, you’re missing out on one of this year’s most addictive crime dramas. And spy thrillers. And black comedies. Just when you think you know where the genre-busting BBC series about an MI5 desk drone-turned-field agent (Sandra Oh) helping to track down a psychopathic assassin (Jodie Comer) is headed, it changes the rules. Which helps explain why the show has been such a hit with audiences and critics alike. With a second season already underway, and star Sandra Oh vying for what could be a groundbreaking Emmy win, here are 15 things you might not have known about Killing Eve.
1. IT’S BASED ON A SERIES OF NOVELLAS.
Between 2014 and 2016, Luke Jennings—dance critic for England’s The Observer—wrote a series of four Kindle Singles that become the novel Codename Villanelle, about a Russian assassin and an ambitious MI5 agent who chase each other around the world in a global game of cat-and-mouse. In 2014, producer Sally Woodward Gentle optioned the rights to Jennings’s stories.
“Although the notion of a female assassin was not unique, Luke’s take was fresh, intelligent and tonally much bolder than others,” Woodward Gentle said. “It wasn’t exploitative. We really enjoyed the character of Villanelle and the inventiveness of her kills, but we were particularly engaged with the mutual obsession between the women.»
2. IT WAS WRITTEN AND DEVELOPED BY FLEABAG CREATOR PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE.
Though Phoebe Waller-Bridge began her entertainment career as an actor (she played droid L3-37 in Solo: A Star Wars Story), Crashing and Fleabag have turned her into an in-demand writer and producer as well. Waller-Bridge was brought onto Killing Eve based on her work on the stage version of Fleabag, which she performed as a one-woman show in 2013. The material turned out to be a perfect match for the creator’s sensibilities.
“I write from the point of view of what I’d like to watch,” Waller-Bridge told The Guardian. “I’m always satisfying my own appetite. So I guess that means transgressive women, friendships, pain. I love pain.”
3. SANDRA OH WASN’T SURE WHO THE SHOWRUNNERS WANTED HER TO PLAY.
Sandra Oh—who was the first actor cast in the adaptation—loved the script for Killing Eve, but was slightly confused about which role the producers had in mind for her. “I was talking to [my agents] and scrolling on my phone like, ‘What is it?,’” Oh told ELLE Magazine. “I’m quickly scrolling through my phone, trying to find my part, and I’m talking to my agent like, ‘I don’t get it. What’s the part?’ because I was like, I can’t play an assassin, obviously it’s gonna be a young hot girl, I don’t get it, what’s my part? Then my agent said, ‘Eve. The part is for Eve.’»
4. IT WAS CELEBRATED BY MANY CRITICS FOR BREAKING ALL THE GENRE RULES.
The critical reviews for Killing Eve were almost unanimously positive, with many fans mentioning the innovative way in which the show subverts so many genre conventions. In making the case for Oh as this year’s Best Actress for Vulture, Matt Zoller Seitz wrote that “Killing Eve is such a brazenly entertaining series that you don’t immediately realize how groundbreaking it is … First, of course, there’s the fact that Killing Eve is built around two women, an immediately distinguishing difference in a genre, the cat-and-mouse thriller, where both the main investigator and the main baddie tend to be men.”
At IndieWire, Ben Travers wrote that “Killing Eve is a helluva good time, it’s already more interesting than many of its genre peers, and the first season illustrates a self-awareness essential for its survival. The show may follow a formula, but there’s nothing routine about it.” Writing for The Atlantic, Sophie Gilbert said, “Killing Eve is subversive at its most basic level, taking the classic good-guy-chases-villain template and placing two women in the primary roles.”
5. OH IS THE FIRST ASIAN ACTRESS TO BE NOMINATED FOR A BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA EMMY.
A post shared by Sandra Oh (@iamsandraohinsta) on Apr 3, 2018 at 8:27am PDT
Between 2005 and 2009, Oh received five consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy (though she has yet to win one). But her nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Killing Eve marks an important first for the entertainment industry: She is the first Asian actress to receive a Lead Actress in a Drama nomination.
6. WALLER-BRIDGE AND JODIE COMER’S FIRST MEETING WAS AT A BAFTA PARTY, AND THEY WERE BOTH DRUNK.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Jodie Comer shared that the first and only time she had ever met Waller-Bridge was a few months before she was ever contacted about Killing Eve. The two of them met at a BAFTA party, and both were rather inebriated. “I didn’t know nottin’ about Killing Eve,” Comer said. “Then my audition came along and I was like … Oh my God, I was so drunk that night. This is really awkward.”
7. OH AND COMER’S FIRST MEETING INCLUDED ACTING OUT THE KITCHEN SCENE.
As Eve and Villanelle, Oh and Comer spend almost the entirety of season one trying to stay one step ahead of each other, which means that they don’t share a lot of screen time. But it was imperative that the actors who filled the roles had enough onscreen chemistry to fill the moments that they did share with a rare kind of curiosity that is both raw, vicious, and somewhat sexual. So Oh’s first meeting with Comer required them to act out the infamous kitchen scene, where Villanelle breaks into Eve’s home.
“Jodie is so wonderful in her presence, and her own instinct, and her own fearlessness,” Oh told Deadline. “She’s absolutely nothing like the character, which makes what Jodie can personally bring to it so much more extraordinary. We first met in her audition, and the audition was the scene in the kitchen in Episode 5, this 10-page scene. Jodie flew from England to LA, we laid it down, and immediately, I felt like we could both feel, ‘Oh, this is my dance partner.’”
8. IT WAS RENEWED BEFORE THE FIRST SEASON HAD EVEN PREMIERED.
Sometimes you just know when you have a good thing. On April 5, 2018—three days before Killing Eve had even made its debut—BBC America announced that it was being renewed for a second season.
“This show has the thunder of women on both sides of the chase in Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer and, importantly, behind the camera with the lavishly brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge,” BBC America president Sarah Barnett said in a statement. “The early response to Killing Eve has been incredible—for that reason, as well as the fact that we wholeheartedly love this original, funny, thrillingly entertaining series, we are delighted to move ahead with a second season before we even premiere.”
9. MORE THAN 100 ACTRESSES WERE CONSIDERED FOR VILLANELLE.
Though it’s impossible to imagine Killing Eve without Comer in the role of the psychotic—and rather glamorous—assassin, the show’s producers considered more than 100 actors for the part. “We didn’t want Villanelle to be like Nikita or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo—that male fantasy version of what a woman who’d come for them might look like. We wanted her to be able to disappear into a crowd,” Woodward Gentle told Backstage. “There had to be chemistry between [Eve and Villanelle], this extraordinary chemical reaction that’s not necessarily sexual, but has hints of it. [Oh and Comer] had it. Their acting methods are very different, but they were completely within the same piece. That was really important.”
10. WALLER-BRIDGE AND OH WANTED THE ENDING TO FEEL ORGANIC, SO THEY WORKSHOPPED IT TOGETHER. WITH SOME WINE.
While discussing Eve and Villanelle’s second encounter, which ends with Oh stabbing Comer, Waller-Bridge told Variety that it was important to both her and Oh that whatever happened in that scene felt natural to the character of Eve. “That moment of ‘saving her’ came out of a wine-fueled, after-dinner spontaneous workshop of the scene with Sandra,” Waller-Bridge said. “Sandra and I were acting it out across my kitchen table … We mimed her stabbing me and then pulling the knife out … Then we both froze for a second, just feeling out what might happen next, then we suddenly both covered the imaginary wound at the same time and looked at each other utterly mortified—just like we believed Eve would once she took a second to realize what she had done.”
11. OH DOESN’T NORMALLY WATCH HERSELF ON SCREEN, BUT MADE AN EXCEPTION FOR KILLING EVE.
Many actors can’t bear to watch themselves onscreen, and Oh counts herself among them. But she was curious to see how Killing Eve turned out, so she binge-watched the first three episodes—and loved every second of it. “In the plethora of all that’s out there to watch, actually being something different is so fun,” she told Vanity Fair.
12. ITS RATINGS GREW WITH EACH EPISODE.
Word-of-mouth played a major part in Killing Eve’s success, a fact that could be seen in its ratings, which grew from one week to the next throughout the season—which is something that no other scripted television series had done in more than a decade.
“This show has exceeded our expectations in every possible way, and we came into it with very high expectations,” BBC America president Sarah Barnett said in a statement. “From executive producer Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s words on the page, to the performances by Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, and the entire cast, the critical acclaim, the fan engagement and audience growth. On every level, this has been one of the ones you dream about when you get into this business.”
13. THE SHOW’S DARK COMEDY HELPED AUDIENCES ROOT FOR A KILLER.
Much of the show’s success, according to Waller-Bridge, rests in its more lighthearted moments—which she told Variety were necessary for any show that’s “tied up with pathos and is as usefully disarming as it is entertaining.” She also believes that the show’s dark comedic elements allowed the audience to root for Villanelle, “because she makes them laugh … It forgives a thousand murders!”
14. THE BODY COUNT WAS RATHER HIGH.
Though given Villanelle’s penchant for murder, it’s not hard to imagine that she’s killed 1000-plus people throughout her career, the audience only witnesses a total of 19 deaths of the hands of the quirky assassin. (An additional eight deaths throughout the series led to a total body count of 27 for the first season.)
15. EVE SHOULD BE NERVOUS ABOUT SEASON TWO.
Though not many details have been released about Killing Eve’s second season, we know that it’s scheduled to premiere in 2019 and that Waller-Bridge—who received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing—won’t be writing it. (The second season of her show Fleabag is currently in production, and timing wouldn’t allow her to do both.) But Waller-Bridge has offered a warning that the next season will see Eve in danger.
“[Eve] has crossed a line with Villanelle and with herself,” Waller-Bridge told Variety. “I think both are threats to Eve going forward. There is no question that she will be haunted in some way by both from this moment on.”
Killing Eve Is a Sign of TV to Come
The new BBC America show is stylish, irreverent, and hard to categorize.
BBC America’s new drama Killing Eve, which debuted on Sunday night, is already one of the most critically acclaimed new shows of the year, alongside HBO’s Barry and Netflix’s The End of the F***ing World. And, like both those shows, it’s tricky to categorize. Killing Eve at its core is a cat-and-mouse spy story between an MI6 investigator named Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) and a glamorous assassin known as Villanelle (Jodie Comer). But it’s also variously a dark psychological drama about sociopathy, a feminist procedural, and a British workplace comedy that traffics in colloquialisms like dickswab, monkeydick, and heroin Polish. Villanelle as a character would fit seamlessly into a forward-thinking espionage thriller; Eve often comes across like a variation of Melissa McCarthy’s character in the Paul Feig comedy Spy.
Killing Eve’s sense of humor comes straight from its creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, whose 2016 BBC/Amazon comedy Fleabag is inarguably one of the best new series of the decade. Adapted from Waller-Bridge’s one-woman stage show, Fleabag is equal parts comedy and tragedy—an uproarious, filthy satire about a young British woman’s chaotic existence and sexual misadventures that gradually lets her violent self-loathing peek through. It’s hysterical, until it’s not. Killing Eve, which like Fleabag is mostly set in London, has the same irreverent sense of humor and the same intense exploration of the psychology of its lead characters. Here, those qualities don’t always come together with the conventions of the spy story in perfect harmony. But they do make something new, gratifying, and—in its finest moments—thrilling.
The Dark Humanity of Barry
When Hell Is a Wealthy Man’s Birthday Party
Licorice Pizza Is a Tragicomic Tale of 1970s Hollywood
Killing Eve also points to where television is heading, thanks to the influence of streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu. Concepts that might once have been impossible sells to networks or premium cable have proven their potential on other platforms, making outlandish, outré, and oddball pitches more appealing. And with Netflix’s overwhelming influx of content flooding the marketplace, quirkier stories stand out. The best-reviewed shows of 2018 so far on the website Metacritic include FX’s surreal Atlanta and its trippy Legion, HBO’s violent but tenderhearted Barry, Killing Eve, and the teenage romance-slash-psychopath comedy The End of the F***ing World. None of these shows fits neatly into a genre or an awards category. But they all take creative risks that pay off.
Killing Eve is subversive at its most basic level, taking the classic good-guy-chases-villain template and placing two women in the primary roles. Oh’s Eve is an American working in British intelligence who pieces together that a string of seemingly random murders might have been committed by the same person—and instinct tells her it’s a woman. After Eve’s personal research goes too far, she’s fired, alongside her boss, Bill (David Haig). But an official at MI6 (Fiona Shaw) who’s intrigued by Eve’s research tasks her with running a new investigation into the killer. Meanwhile, Villanelle becomes aware of the woman tracking her down, and starts hunting her right back.
In Villanelle, Comer gets the more obviously intriguing character, and the British actress is exceptional in the role. Villanelle is brilliant, fearless, funny, and indubitably a psychopath—after she carries out her hits, she pauses long enough to watch the light dim in her victims’ eyes. She’s also alarmingly charismatic, and prone to pulling surreal, elaborate stunts, like dressing up in a pink princess dress when she’s forced to attend a check-in with her handlers. In Killing Eve’s press materials, Waller-Bridge describes the show as “a meditation on murder, on loneliness and the potential for a world without conscience,” and Villanelle is the embodiment of that hypothesis. She’s entrancing and terrifying all at once.
She’s matched by Oh’s Eve in competence, if not self-assurance. Waller-Bridge consistently makes Eve the punchline as a mid-level civil servant suddenly thrust into active duty—she wears a windbreaker over a glamorous new dress to dinner with a source, and during one terrifying chase scene is physically unable to open a gate. But she’s enormously intuitive, and able to piece together information in a way no one else can. Waller-Bridge flips the tropes of the spy novel by giving Eve a supportive husband (Owen McDonnell) and a male boss who becomes her subordinate when she recruits him onto her team, and who struggles with the new power dynamic. Villanelle also has a male handler (Kim Bodnia) whom she consistently tries to outsmart, using her femininity and her youth as tools.
There are times when Killing Eve’s tonal pendulum swings can be jarring. Without spoiling too much, the fourth episode veers from sharp tragedy to surreal visual comedy to a wackadoo mission in a tiny English village that’s more Little Britain than Homeland. But Oh anchors the show as Eve, portraying a woman who’s invigorated by her new job and aware of its stakes. She’s such a natural fit in the role that it’s easy to forget how unusual it is to build a new drama around a 46-year-old lead actress, let alone a 46-year-old lead actress of color. The recent Netflix series Collateral made the creative decision to ignore its female detective’s personal life entirely, which ended up making her feel two-dimensional. Killing Eve strikes a better balance by acknowledging Eve’s life outside of work without distracting her from her job (ahem, Homeland).
Killing Eve’s critical reception implies that more shows like it are bound to follow—series that straddle genres and use existing categories and tropes as stylistic and tonal inspiration rather than models to closely follow. And, hopefully, series that see the potential in casting for skill rather than type, and portray “complexity” in female characters as more than just alcoholism and sporadic rudeness. Waller-Bridge, who’s only 32, has already proven herself as one of the most interesting creative forces to watch today, alongside other actor-writer hybrids including Atlanta’s Donald Glover, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom, and Barry’s Bill Hader. Enabled by a wealth of new platforms requiring content, they’re redefining what hit television looks and feels like.
Killing Eve Review: Subverting The Spy Thriller Genre
BBC America’s new thriller, Killing Eve , is the story of an MI5 investigator and an assassin who are both on a mission to find and kill the other but end up becoming mutually obsessed. Set primarily in present-day London, it is fundamentally a cat-and-mouse spy story but manages to be so much more.
The assassin, who has adopted the nom de gurre Villanelle, is played by the lovely Jodie Comer. She works for a secret organisation of powerful people from around the globe called ‘The Twelve’. They are a collective whose actions revolve around maintaining their members’ stronghold in the world.
Image Source: Metro
Eve Polastri (played by the incredibly talented Sandra Oh of Grey’s Anatomy fame), the MI5 investigator, gets tangled up in Villanelle’s life when she makes a connection between several assassinations around the world to a single female assassin. She is subsequently recruited in secret by a senior MI6 official to find this assassin. What follows is a dangerous yet oftentimes facetious dance of twisted seduction that not only passes the Bechdel test but flips it on its head.
A Female ‘James Bond’ – Finally
One of the first things the viewer notices while watching Killing Eve is how similar Villanelle and James Bond are. For starters, both of them have the same job – killing people (except he works for the good guys and she, for the bad guys). There are big guns and hard punches. Villanelle is sexy, dresses exceptionally well and has a distinctive style to both herself and her kills – just like James Bond.
Villanelle. Image source: Express
Although many would be tempted to argue that Lorraine Broughton from Atomic Blonde has already earned that title, they forget one crucial aspect that makes Bond movies what they are – the sex. In the earlier movies, James Bond has sex with three (sometimes four) women on average in each movie. Over 26 movies, he has had sex with close to 60 women. In conclusion, James Bond has a lot of sex – and he has fun doing it.
Lorraine, on the other hand, has one sexual partner – a woman. The fact that it was a woman was indeed a refreshing departure and would have helped Atomic Blonde ’s LGBTQIA+ representation credentials, had the romantic interest not been killed off too soon (reinforcing the ‘bury your gays’ trope) and had Lorraine not reacted to it with one tear. It leaves you with the question of whether Broughton’s queerness was meant to be for the queers to see more of themselves on screen, or for the straight man’s girl-on-girl fetish.
This is where Killing Eve ’s anti-hero Villanelle stands out – she is shown to have sex with at least four different people, and she genuinely enjoys it. She has sex on her own terms and contrary to what we’d expect from a femme fatale-esque character like Villanelle’s, she never uses sex to kill her victims (unlike Jennifer Lawrence’s character in Red Sparrow ). She simply engages in it because she wants to.
This is something we need to see more of on TV – women owning their sexuality and not being portrayed as passive receivers of sex or needing to engage in it to fulfil their missions. Killing Eve , having been written by one of the most transgressive creators of our era, Fleabag ’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, does a wonderful job at this.
Luke Jennings’ Codename Villanelle , on which Killing Eve is based, is pretty groundbreaking by itself with its depiction of a good proportion of complex, fleshed out female characters. Waller-Bridge goes a step further and genderswaps a few of the male characters in the book and produces diverse women each of whom she has written with utmost care. Even the casting is ethnically diverse (its titular character of an MI6 agent is played by a 47-year-old woman of Asian origin).
(from left) Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Image Source: Radio Times
In Killing Eve , the protagonist is a woman, the antagonist is a woman, the boss is a woman, the best friend is a woman, and the female lead’s old love is a woman. The victims are mostly men. It is a show in which women are finally not killed off to further the plot.
This is not to say that the men are depicted to be vile, misogynistic caricatures or derided in any way. They are simply just secondary to the women’s goals. Each of the male characters, in fact, is written to be way more endearing than in the book. So much so that when they eventually die, it breaks your heart.
Just as the men are not portrayed to be women-hating monsters, the women are also not portrayed to be ostentatiously powerful.
Just as the men are not portrayed to be women-hating monsters, the women are also not portrayed to be ostentatiously powerful. Their worth is staunchly innate and doesn’t require overt displays of ‘badassery’. They are, at the end of the day, just women navigating through life (albeit theirs is much more interesting) – like the rest of us.
The strength of Killing Eve lies in how it does not brand itself as a feminist show. It does not depict powerful women as a novelty. It simply focuses on portraying women as full-fledged people.
The Queer Ambiguity
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a U.S. non-governmental media monitoring organisation founded by LGBT people in the media, defines queerbaiting as the following. “ L eading fans to believe a character might be queer to bring in new audiences, without ever making that character or relationship canon or explicit on screen, or the project having any intention to ever move beyond subtle hints . They say, “ if a character is truly exploring their identity, there should be movement in the story versus sly insinuations and an eventual direction on how the character will move forward.”
This is what some fans accuse the show of doing. In Killing Eve , although the mutual obsession Eve and Villanelle share is established, it is never actually consummated. They don’t even share a kiss. Each of their scenes together is built up to reveal something about the feelings they might have for each other, but always leaves you hanging.
Image Source: The Verge
Villanelle’s sexuality is made clear, but Eve’s remains nebulous throughout. During the one scene Eve admits to having any feelings for Villanelle, she immediately follows it with an act that leaves you wondering if her confession was genuine or just a ploy to catch Villanelle.
It is understandable that revealing too much about their relationship in the first season might be bad for the future of the show, but Killing Eve could definitely learn a lesson or two from Byran Fuller’s masterful depiction of homosexual subtext without indulgence in queerbaiting in Hannibal , which is also essentially a story about the cop and the killer getting obsessed with each other.
It would be disappointing if the showrunners go on to handle the lead women’s relationship the way Supernatural did – five seasons of queerbaiting with no consummation.
Other concerns fans had were with the ‘psycho lesbian‘ trope that Villanelle seems to fit into, and the realisation of the ‘bury your gays’ trope with two-thirds of the undoubtedly queer characters dead.
A Subversive Masterpiece
Equal parts brutal, suspenseful, hilarious and stylish, Killing Eve is an absolute delight. Stunning visuals coupled with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s quirky wit, this show is a must-watch for all kinds of viewers.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag. Image Source: Vanity Fair
Waller-Bridge manages to make you laugh in the most serious of moments and makes you fall in love with and feel deeply for all of her characters, even the cold-blooded murderers (without giving them a broken past for you to empathise with). She does so while not appeasing the male gaze and breaking several stereotypes. Killing Eve may have changed the course of TV forever.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge successfully subverted the comedy genre with Fleabag and has now subverted the spy thriller genre with Killing Eve.