Living in the UK I had to wait a horribly long time for a UK TV channel to pick up Agent Carter, while all the time avoiding the posts on social media about how amazing the show is and how kick ass Hayley Atwell is as Peggy Carter. Finally though, in the last few months it has been broadcast in the UK and it was well worth the wait.
I don’t think I could start this review without talking about how the female characters in the show are handled. It was refreshing to see female characters on the television who actually reflect the real women I have known and interacted with all my life. The female characters are utterly brilliant; they are dynamic and confident in who they are as people. One of the things I loved the most about their interactions with each other was their conversation topics. They talked to each other about their dreams, their jobs, the hardships that they are facing and their doubts and insecurities; they were having conversations that I have with other women every single day. They very rarely just there talking about men. As a study of how to create realistic female characters ‘Agent Carter’ is the place to start looking.
‘Agent Carter’ is also a very good reflection on topical issues that people still face everyday. I don’t think you could review the TV show and not discuss sexism. I think any young person watching the show can breathe a sigh of relief that we no longer live in a world where women are not valued the same as men, that the generations that came before us fought for women to be seen equally. The reason we still make TV shows about it though and why it is still a topic to be discussed is because it if not a fight that is over yet.
Beyond the realistic creation of female characters and the discussion of sexism, ‘Agent Carter’ is a brilliant TV show that helps to boost a demand in quality television of a in-demand genre. I’m seeing a trend of late in movies and TV shows, that the hype about how technology can be used in covert operations, which in the old Bond movies was seen as a novelty, has died a death. In a world of smartphones and tablets, technology in movies is seen as boring. I’m sure a lot of young people would just yawn at a spy tracking a person using a smartphone, and that is because that sort of technology is available to the average everyday person.
Having to watch characters though use their own human instincts and abilities is still interesting to watch. The Bourne Films made covert operations a lot more about trained fighters having brutal fights. Films like ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy’ made covert operations about human intelligence and manoeuvring. The recent remake of ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.‘ by Guy Ritchie is a lovely combination of both. ‘Agent Carter’ is the television equivalent.
It is about human instinct, intelligence, kick-ass fighting ability and trusting other people to have your back, more than relying on technology, which in these period pieces just doesn’t exist. While ‘Agent Carter’ has the fantastical and futuristic technologies of Howard Stark to play around with, that is more a reflection on the comic book origins of the Marvel Universe. It is an alternative history, but it is still more about the people than the technology.
That is what makes it interesting to watch, because technology in truth is boring, but people are fascinating. ‘Agent Carter’ is a television show where the quality of the characters you get to know is a high priority, both male and female, and watching them manoeuvre around each other is addictive.