Killing Eve: Television Violence as Liberation?

Rosie White

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

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Killing Eve (BBC 2018-2022) has been hailed as a feminist television show. Its cinematic production values call upon a history of espionage on screen, encompassing international intrigue and glamorised hyperviolent action sequences. Is this violent aesthetic a cathartic reference to newly visible feminist discourse or are we just being sold a new version of old fantasies? In this chapter Killing Eve is examined in relation to a history of violent women spies on screen, from Emma Peel (The Avengers 1961-1969) to Sydney Bristow (Alias 2001-2006). While Villanelle (Jody Comer) appears to present an amoral account of postfeminist 'empowerment', Eve (Sandra Oh) carries echoes of second-wave feminist concerns with community, morality and ethics. With each season the differences between Villanelle and Eve unravel, raising questions about what constitutes 'quality' television and how that might intersect with old-fashioned ideas about women's liberation. While the show depicts each character as 'liberated' in some respects, they are both entangled in corporate nets which repeatedly put them in danger and pull them back into violence as a form of labour.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Emerald International Handbook of Feminist Perspectives on Women’s Acts of Violence
EditorsStacy Banwell, Lynsey Black, Dawn K. Cecil, Yanyi K. Djamba, Sitawa R. Kimuna, Emma Milne, Lizzie Seal, Eric Y. Tenkorang
Place of PublicationLeeds
PublisherEmerald Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781803822556
ISBN (Print)9781803822563
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2023

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