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A psycho-killer and a secret agent make for an unusual pairing, but their audience is hooked.
Published: 24/01/2020   Author: Eleni Kontou
Photo: Courtesy of the BBC
The hype of Killing Eve is hard to avoid, with it earning awards left, right, and centre. The show centres around a psychopathic assassin (played by Jodie Comer), the MI5 agent hired to take her down (played by Sandra Oh), and the relationship that forms between the two. Their relationship is a personal one which has the two leads obsessing over the other, almost mimicking the audience’s relationship with the show. So why is it that we find ourselves loving a character whose moralities (or lack of) are deeply controversial, and why do we, the audience, find ourselves empowered after watching such a shockingly immoral and humorous show?

Those who have watched Killing Eve will know of the moral conflict that ensues when watching the show. You’re well aware that you shouldn’t be laughing at what is onscreen, but the charm of Villanelle is hard to resist. The compelling effects that the stylish assassin has on Eve is also felt by the audience. We find ourselves rooting for Villanelle in a deeply twisted way, and not only that, but hoping for Eve to darken her own ethics.

One viewer (@JerdSlerter, via Twitter) comments that ‘we spend so much time worrying about what others think, whereas Villanelle is straight up true to herself.’ It is true that we get a sense of freedom in watching such a viciously immoral character onscreen. Villanelle’s lack of remorse is almost inspiring to us, as the viewer goes on to say that ‘we all want to learn to let ourselves go, and I think that when we watch Villanelle, we subconsciously do.’ We almost have to drop our morality in order to watch the show with enjoyment, the audience is forced to sympathise with this brutally beautiful character on our screens and in turn, we become more like her as we watch. Another fan of the show (@killcumander, via Twitter) believes that ‘people see a lot of themselves in her’. It is clear that we all have an inner Villanelle, a suppressed part of us that Killing Eve brings into the spotlight.

Killing Eve is a deeply engaging series, partly due to the representation that it contains in regard to sexuality, race, and gender. People are always drawn to what they can connect to, and representation helps with this. Killing Eve has two female leads, which is sadly a rarity onscreen, and makes Killing Eve all the more special. One viewer (@Hypnoticbells, via Twitter) writes ‘people love strong, female characters whether they are “morally corrupt” or not’. Perhaps it is the rarity of strong female leads that entices us so much to these characters, the same viewer jokes that ‘women can do anything, including (but not limited to) being a badass assassin.’ The lack of complex women on screen is almost more apparent after watching Killing Eve. I find myself unsatisfied with programmes frequently due to the lack of diversity in all areas, specifically in the writing of female characters. The show itself is written by a different female writer every season; it is no surprise then that a show containing two profusely complex women is empowering to so many people.
Photo: Courtesy of the BBC
Sexuality is also an empowering aspect of Killing Eve, proven by the massively LGBTQ+ fan base. When an LGBTQ+ character is featured as a main character in a show, their main purpose is often to show their coming out story, as viewer (@sapphic_tali, via Twitter) says ‘they’re functioning more like a moral compass for non-LGBT people’. It can be important to show coming out stories on screen, but it is perhaps more important to show LGBTQ+ characters as being someone other than their sexuality, something that Killing Eve does well, specifically in the character of Villanelle. Villanelle is a character of freedom and it seems that this freedom is also apparent in her sexuality. (@sapphic_tali) also states that ‘Killing Eve doesn’t feel like a lesson, it feels like it was intended for LGBT people to simply enjoy’. Seeing an openly LGBTQ+ character played out on the screen, and for it to not be a big deal on the show, is extremely important. One viewer (@killcumander, via Twitter) comments that it is ‘nice to see the representation of a different form of LGBT life’, when LGBTQ+ characters are shown on screen they are almost always shown as having some sort of inner or outer conflict with their sexuality. Villanelle is a character whom is always unapologetically herself and to see a character at one with their sexuality, despite it not being at the centre of the show, is very freeing and empowering. The character of Eve can also be seen to explore her sexuality in the show, and it is yet again, not made a big deal of - a refreshing perspective in the TV world.

It is obvious then that Killing Eve’s ability to empower us is down to the hidden values within the show. We don’t watch the show and want to become killers - we watch the show and feel a desire to let out our inner Villanelle; our inner confidence, sexuality, and freedom. We find ourselves following the path of Eve, drawn to the self-assured, luxurious, and carefree lifestyle of Villanelle. We become utterly engrossed in our screens as we fall in love with a remorseless, vicious, yet complexly compassionate and soft assassin with whom we twistedly sympathise with.

Killing Eve returns for Season 3 in April 2020.



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