Bandwagon Alert! My friend has been talking about the new TV series Killing Eve since the BBC first aired it, so I bit the bullet and watched the first episode, expecting to find the usual tawdry stereotypes and then be able to turn it off, safe in the knowledge that my indifference or disdain was justified.
I am extremely pleased to say that I was completely wrong. I loved this show so much I binge-watched it and finished it in about two days. Many people argue that it is a great feminist black comedy, and I completely agree. It is fantastic to see an inclusive show where women, and particularly women of colour, at the forefront, although it would’ve been great to have seen some differently-abled women as well.
She fights dirty, she sleeps with whomsoever she pleases and she is generally a well-rounded, three-dimensional character. Also, it is truly great to see a woman eating on TV that isn’t sexualised- think lollypops and ice creams being sucked seductively (in fact, the opening scene is literally a parody of this). Instead, Eve and Villanelle are seen eating simply for nourishment, because they’re hungry. It’s great to see that, even if it is a strange thing to say. How often do you actually see women eating on screen?
Also, she buys things she likes, plays tricks, and is generally a well-rounded, defined character. She is more than just a sex object or a one-dimensional form of feminist rebellion. Unlike many female villains, such as Amy in Gone Girl, she does not have an ordinary life from which she is escaping, and unlike Irene Adler from the Sherlock Holmes stories, she is not defined entirely by her life of crime. There are nuances to her character that have not been seen in female villains before, either on screen or in literature.
The trick is that the show was created by women, and portrays real women doing real women things. Although the original novellas were written by Luke Jennings, it was Phoebe Whatsit-Brigadier who created the series and adapted the books for TV.
Having never read Jennings’ work I cannot say how accurate the portrayal is, but it’s clear that the Fleabag creator has defined the character and made it her own. She has developed a TV series unlike any other, and this is redefining the female villain for a generation of crime fiction readers and watchers, which can only be a good thing.