Review: Killing Eve

Published

Credit: BBC America

Georgina Hayes
Editor

Audacious, unabashedly queer and brilliantly acted, Killing Eve is possibly the best TV show ever made

Like most, I’ve watched a lot of TV in my time and, like most, I’ve become unhealthily obsessed with a lot of it too. From an embarrassingly public obsession with The Vampire Diaries at the age of thirteen and a fourteen-season loyalty to Grey’s Anatomy, I know what it means to fall into the world of a television show and not get up.

Nothing, however, compares to Killing Eve.

If you haven’t watched it already, then be warned – this article contains some spoilers.
The first time I watched Killing Eve all the way through (my rewatch count is now four), I honestly couldn’t believe that it was real. I woke up the night after watching the third episode and genuinely thought that I’d dreamt it because I just couldn’t believe that such specific, bizarre, colourful and, most importantly, queer characters were allowed to exist on the small screen. Jodie Comer’s psychopathic but sympathetic Villanelle is what had me the most excited and surprised – here we have a female assassin that not only usurps expectations by being both convincingly terrifying and strangely endearing but also has absolutely no concern for the male gaze whatsoever. Yes, that’s right: Killing Eve’s assassin is queer.

Now, this shouldn’t be surprising when one considers that Killing Eve was penned by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the genius that created the feminist comedy Fleabag. But still, Waller-Bridge, alongside Comer’s magnetism, managed to bring to life a character that I thought would only ever exist in one of my weird, guilty-pleasure daydreams.

Then we have Sandra Oh. If like me, you followed Oh through her ten-season stint on Grey’s Anatomy as the brilliant and belligerent Christina Yang, then her immense talent should come as no surprise. As Eve, Oh manages to embody a persistent, emotional but awkward MI5 agent with the same immersive conviction that she portrayed an ambitious and somewhat emotionally stunted cardiothoracic surgeon. In short, Sandra Oh’s brilliance wasn’t a surprise, because we’d already seen how talented she is, but Killing Eve has allowed her to flex those muscles in ways that I’m sure many actresses could only dream of. The only qualm I have with Oh’s historic Emmy nomination is that she didn’t win (but I’m sure she will next year, and Comer will get a well-deserved nomination too).

As a queer woman, the most exciting part of this show for me – and there’s a lot to be excited about – was just how queer it is. After the first two episodes had aired, I had the same worries that many others echoed on the Internet: what if Killing Eve falls into the dreaded trap of “queer-baiting”. The show was already so specifically brilliant to me that it almost felt like too much to hope for that the two female leads would be canonically queer. By episode three, though, audiences were left thrilled and reassured when it was confirmed that, yes, this attraction between Eve and Villanelle is indeed sexual.

In a scene that’s so bizarrely brilliant that I want it projected onto my gravestone, Comer’s Villanelle is seen kissing an older woman up against a hotel room wall when she says the following: “I’m going to call you Eve, okay?”
This scene is followed by a myriad of others as the season progresses that intensify this psycho-sexual cat and mouse game the two women are playing. The best part? Despite its increasing intensity, at no point does the sexual nature of the women’s mutual obsession feel exploitative. That, quite obviously, is due to the fact that it’s a show written by a woman. The scenes between Villanelle and Eve that could be taken as “sexual” are just as sexy as they are awkward and, at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious. It’s reflective of real life, rather than the fantasies of a creepy male screenwriter.

I can’t express enough how much Killing Eve means to me as a show. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and despite the fact I’ve no doubt that other networks will attempt to emulate it (queer and feminist TV can be successful, who knew?), I don’t think that anything anytime soon will come close to its sheer audacious brilliance.

If you haven’t done so yet, catch up with Killing Eve on iPlayer and become just as obsessed with it as Villanelle and Eve are with each other. If you have, rewatch it, because what better way to spend this spooky month is there than watching two of the best actresses in the game chase each other across Europe, committing crime as they go?