Review: Agent Carter

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Marvel’s latest shows room for improvement

Marvel’s Agent Carter blessed the comic book world with the extremely rare concept of a TV series with a lead female character when it premiered on ABC Jan. 6.

Hayley Atwell is a godsend. In the two-hour premiere, she managed to make Carter come off as fun, capable and complex — not a combination of characteristics that the women of the Marvel movie-verse have often been allowed to achieve.

However, with all of the progress that Agent Peggy Carter and her glass-ceiling-smashing action apparently heralds, the writers seem to have forgotten about a few things.

Namely, the other women.

Let’s do roll call: in the premiere, Marvel introduced a friendly-looking telephone operator who received one line and probably won’t appear onscreen again.

“Nikita” alum Lyndsy Fonseca played a waitress whose entire rapport with Carter during the first episode didn’t even pass the Bechdel test. Apparently the lack of a main male character still doesn’t mean that the women will be allowed to discuss anything but problematic men (here in the form of a rude diner) for at least the first hour of the series.

And Carter’s helpless roommate may fall most short as a bedridden riveter (like Rosie, but with a god-awful cough) who pulls the show straight into yet another comic book cliche: the women in refrigerators trope.

The series is enjoyable and the male characters do a pretty good job of illustrating both ends of the feminist spectrum.

It’s a smart narrative choice to show Carter after the war, when the female workforce is being pushed back by men returning from the armed forces. And for the record, the costuming is pretty neat.

But it’s disappointing to see such a step forward in representation fail so spectacularly in representing a gender across the board.

Personally, I’m praying that Fonseca’s time on the CW will assert itself with some secret-agent double-life twist partway through the series. I’ll watch for Atwell, but hope for more.

Anne Halliwell is the news editor of the Kentucky Kernel.

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