Sad news for Agent Carter fans, though probably good news for Hayley Atwell: the marvelous British star has been cast in a new show.
Usually that would mean a knife to the heart of, quite frankly, the best superhero show on television right now. Granted, that's an opinion with an asterisk after it, as I am not watching Arrow, so fans of that one can throw all the rotten tomatoes they like. But Agent Carter is consistently entertaining, nuanced, fun, and has the best superhero star ever. Peggy Carter is smart, capable, occasionally bullheaded and also carrying an eternal torch for the long-lost Captain America. But it doesn't stop her from being amazing, folks.
See, Agent Carter realizes that a woman can be smart, and feminine, and fall in and out of love, and still be absolutely kickass at her job. It's an astounding leap that 99.999 percent of television (fantastic and otherwise) hasn't yet figured out. Watch the latest episode, in which we find out some background on another woman, who is a science genius but forced into model-acting and arm candy because of the times in which she lives. As a young woman, her mother sneers at her science homework and forces her to look at herself in the mirror, telling her this is all that she is, all that anyone cares about. "No one cares what's in your head," Mommy Dearest snaps.
That's the world in which Peggy Carter lives, and sadly, it informs most of television as well. Pretty means dumb, smart means "quirky" or downright ugly, women in love generally become morons and always they need saving. Peggy doesn't just bust that stereotype; she kills it with a back spin kick and then shoots it for good measure. And she does so with intelligence and integrity, while carrying just enough hard edge to keep from being perfect.
It's almost embarrassing how much better Agent Carter is than its partner show, Agents of SHIELD. Wait, did that show come back this year? Because I keep losing interest, and I go back and find it when everything else is on hold. Supergirl makes weak slaps at feminist principles; Agent Carter smacks down patriarchy without mussing her awesome red hat. If all the superhero shows were lined up in my Apple TV at the same time, Agent Carter is the one I turn on first (though Jessica Jones is close). All that is setting aside the embarrassing lack of female superheroes - particularly leads - in this new golden age of superhero fiction.
And you're not watching.
Yeah, you. Agent Carter has ratings lower than the root cellar under my basement. If you watched one hour of reality TV instead of Agent Carter, you officially get the CultureGeek Side-Eye. I'm not the only one who loves this show: it's got 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and TV.com is calling for its renewal despite Atwell's new gig, as both networks say they'll work out the schedule if it comes to that. Check this out:
"It effortlessly uses its time period to its advantage by telling relatable and familiar stories that are honest about sexism, racism, and even the Red Scare without the series feeling like a stuffy period drama. It treats all of its characters with respect and care, depicts women as being complex individuals with hopes and dreams to rival their male counterparts, and none of it feels like a heavy-handed agenda." -- TV.com
It's nice when the big boys say it, because then I don't have to. Why aren't you watching this show? Catch it now, before it goes away.