Despite being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe/Empire, because of low ratings, Agent Carter will probably not be renewed for a third season. This is a tragedy. I am a casual consumer of the MCU, but I watch Agent Carter religiously, and the show has only gotten better in its second season.
Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter, the one time paramour of Captain America, moves on after the end of World War II by serving as an agent at the Strategic Scientific Reserve (the precursor to the MCU’s ubiquitous S.H.I.E.L.D), and she fights both supervillains and old-school 1940s sexism. She’s a woman in the workplace at a time in American history when most women were being forced back into the home to make room for returning GIs. Instead of letting herself be shoved into a corner to answer phones, Peggy doggedly pursues leads that her SSR co-workers don’t take seriously.
There’s romance, but it’s not at the forefront of the story, which is a breath of fresh air. Nothing would be a bigger turnoff if Peggy spent the series obsessing over a dude. Instead, her lingering feelings for Steve Rogers are channeled to protecting New York City. In season two, when she goes to Los Angeles to find that her workplace crush has a fiancee, instead of being overcome by the green monster of jealousy, she acknowledges the situation and moves on.
Peggy is also a great tonal contrast to Jessica Jones. Jessica is rough and tumble, while Peggy is prim and polished. But Peggy and Jessica are currently the only two Marvel women with their own franchises. We’ll have to wait until 2019 to add Captain Marvel to the list. It would be a shame to take away Agent Carter since the MCU already has a dearth of kickass women.
Agent Carter also lets its female villains shine. Maleficent, these ladies are not. Last season we were introduced to Dottie Underwood, a ruthless Soviet assassin skilled in hand-to-hand combat. This season, we got Whitney Frost, a genius physicist and Hollywood starlet. When her face was marred by zero matter in a lab accident, instead of fretting over the new imperfection, she takes obsessive pride in it. Both are nuanced and complicated and interesting and completely different from one another. And, most importantly, neither of these women became villains because of trauma inflicted by a man.
The fact that Agent Carter is unabashedly feminist is great, but it also shouldn’t be cancelled because on top of that, it’s just a really fun show to watch. It’s not overly dark and gritty like the Netflix entries into the MCU. The miniseries format means that the storytelling is really tight, and the superhero technology is outrageous and silly while still having believable stakes. Also outrageous and silly: the fashion, specifically the men’s fashion. While Peggy looks enviably fabulous in every outfit, the men are stuck in hilariously high-waisted pants and short, fat, obnoxiously patterned ties.
The fact that ABC (Agent Carter’s network) has cast Hayley Atwell in a pilot for the 2016-2017 TV season does not bode well for Agent Carter’s renewal, but it’s a one-of-a-kind show that’s telling stories that stand alone and give great background to the MCU.
Featured image via ScreenRant.