"What can I say about 'Killing Eve?' A series that became a massive hit and brand-definer for BBC America that burst onto the scene four years ago and has captivated viewers and popular culture ever since. All because of two unforgettable characters played by two unforgettable actresses," said Dan McDermott, president of entertainment & AMC studios, AMC Networks, at the TV Critics Association Winter Press Tour earlier this month. McDermott was referring to Sandra Oh, who plays an MI6 agent, and Jodi Comer, who plays a psychopathic assassin, and their characters’ incredible and complex relationship that serves as the centerpiece of the drama series. "Killing Eve" starts its final season this weekend, and while the hit show's loyal fans may not be quite ready to say goodbye, McDermott promised viewers that this season will deliver on every level, like it has since its debut.
"Killing Eve" isn't just any regular drama series. The show's debut in 2018 defied traditional gender norms when it came to spy thrillers, and even racial norms, with an Asian American woman (Oh) portraying a leading female character on screen. In fact, at the time, the former BBC America President Sarah Barnett told NCTA prior to the show's debut that the network was working on a new show that would bring the representation of women to the forefront, and that BBC America believed supporting those kinds of stories was important (like they did with their other popular show, "Orphan Black").
"We have a show [Killing Eve] still in production right now, starring two female leads, and underpinning it are some feminist themes around women and friendships. It’s a constant conversation that centers around the representation of women, and a really vital and energetic one," said Barnett in an interview with NCTA in 2017.
"Killing Eve" is also a show created and run by women, with Executive Producer Sally Woodward Gentle at the helm. Showrunner Phoebe Waller-Bridge started off with the show in season 1, and from then on a new female writer took the lead with each ensuing season. The unique storyline and diverse cast transformed the show into a "ratings marvel," as NCTA wrote about during its first season. The season 1 finale of "Killing Eve" drew in 1.25 million viewers, which was an increase of 86% from its first episode. And this was during the same time when "Westworld" was also competing for viewers' attention. Fans have been coming back ever since to see what happens to Eve and Villanelle.
"I think people have really enjoyed seeing female characters act without shame, and without boundaries, and doing the things that make them feel good, obviously for Villanelle [Comer's character], highly illegal,” remarked Laura Neal, executive producer and lead writer for season 4. "But I think there's been a joy for audiences, and especially female audiences, to see female characters do something like that. That was certainly a part of the attraction for me, so I wonder whether that has been part of the reason why there's been sort of a glut of those characters in recent times."
Woodward Gentle commented that she hopes "what the show has done is show how brilliant a completely female-led show can be and how successful it can be." Oh extended gratitude towards Woodward Gentle for the opportunity. "I'm grateful, Sally ... The act of creating was very, very challenging. It was very challenging for me." And in speaking of her character's development over the course of the series, Oh added, "I was very much actively trying to grow Eve as a character, and I think in that process I had to grow as a person. I had to grow as well. And sometimes that doesn't happen in the most comfortable ways.”
The beginning of the end for Eve and Villanelle starts this Sunday on BBC America and AMC+.