How Killing Eve Does Right by its Female Characters


In the year of 2018, it’s a common thing to acknowledge that TV shows are trying to add depth to their female characters. It’s usually promoted as being a ‘feminist’ move – despite the fact that most of these female characters still being defined by their attachment to men, whether by blood or attraction. It’s an extremely unusual thing for a TV show to put their female characters at the forefront, and not being defined by their relationship to the men in their lives, but actually to one another – and that’s what makes ‘Killing Eve’ so rare.



It’s an eight-episode season on BBC that features Eve Polastri (played by Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (Jodie Comer) as the two main stars. Eve is a MI5 agent who starts to hunt down the mysterious assassin Villanelle, with the series leading through London to Paris to Berlin. It’s exceptionally high rated, with an Emmy nomination given to Sandra Oh, and has broken records with being the first ever show to be renewed for the second season without the pilot even coming out. It shows that despite its irregularity as a series, the breath of fresh air that ‘Killing Eve’ brings might be the start of something new.



Eve Polastri is an unusual female protagonist; yes, she’s an agent who’s very smart and solves a lot of cases (a common staple of TV) – but the difference is that she’s also imperfect. Not often enough are women allowed to look this messy on camera. She’s blunt and obsessive to a fault, with her husband usually being the one to draw her back into reality. Now, for most TV shows, the roles are always reversed. But ‘Killing Eve’ isn’t that type of show, and it isn’t the type to compromise what makes her a woman as well: she shops, has a loving relationship with her husband, and wears nice clothes. She’s relatable because of how normal she is. Eve isn’t shafted into only being a complex character, or let go off what makes her feminine but gets to keep both in ‘Killing Eve’.


The same could be said for the assassin Villanelle played by Jodie Comer. If Eve is allowed to be messy and complex, Villanelle is sleek and sharp to compare. There aren’t many truly good female villains (save Amy Dunne, played by Gone Girl), but Villanelle really shines. She brings the bright spark of comedy to the series – as well as some of the darker and nastier scenes, and leaves you guessing at the end of the first season.




This isn’t without noting the additional cast members of Eve’s assistant Elena (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and her boss Fiona (Carolyn Martens), ‘Killing Eve’ really excels in featuring complex and dangerous women, but without preaching about it. The show never feels like they have female characters just to be noted as feminist or for representational reasons, but purely because it wants to tell a strong of two women fighting against one another. And above all, it’s just a really, really good TV show. All of this is just a nice bonus.