“Killing Eve” was a pleasant surprise, and it appears to be a “hit” by BBC America’s standards, increasing its audience through every week of its run (in Live +3 ratings). If you haven’t watched it, in a nutshell, it’s about an MI5 agent who becomes obsessed with a psychopathic assassin who appears to be working for some secret organization.
The hook, if you will, is that both the agent and the assassin are played by women, as is the agent’s mysterious boss. There is a growing sexual tension between the two lead characters, played by Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer.
“Killing Eve” was created and written by a woman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge; some of you may know from “Fleabag,” a quirky series she created and stars in and which streams on Amazon Prime. The men in the series are far “weaker” than the women here. Shows that mix violence (of which there is plenty) with humor appeal to me. Although I felt the final episode went off the rails a bit, I would recommend it to you all.
The question du jour is why did this one break out and show this unique growth. Here are my thoughts on that.
BBC America has been wary of mixing it up with the big boys and girls on Sunday night and has often used Saturday for its heavy hitters like “Doctor Who” and “Orphan Black.” Although that is very British of them, I think putting “KE” on Sunday gave it a different status for the fans of “premium” TV and may have encouraged those who never check out BBC America to give it a shot.
This is a very female-friendly show. I have not seen the demographic breakdown, but my guess is that its core audience was women 25-54, possibly moreso than other BBCA fare. “Killing Eve” was definitely a word-of-mouth series. The Masked Wife was singing its praises to her friends and family, and they were doing so in turn. I’m sure she was not the only one.
This is a perfect example of how one can take a conventional genre (spies and espionage) and turn it on its head to create something original and unique.
Having an American (OK, Canadian) lead in Sandra Oh, who starred in one of the biggest medical dramas of recent times, was a huge plus in attracting a new audience to the platform. I appreciated the way they addressed her American accent early in the series. The closer in all this was Jodie Comer as the Russian assassin Villanelle, whose performance was so unique and seductive that once you see her, you are hooked for the run.
So, come for the Oh and stay for the Comer, and check this one out. There’s another season coming.