Why Agent Carter matters
The ABC show Agent Carter, the continuing adventures of Agent Margaret “Peggy” Carter, post Captain America, was cancelled this week much to the chagrin of those of who value, oh, good writing, believable and complex characters and strong storylines.
As I’ve mention before, in “You’ve come a long way, baby” Agent Carter was unusual in today’s t.v. programming in that it allowed it’s characters to be layered and complicated. The bright colors of the sets and costumes belied the darkness of the storylines, of the everything the characters had seen and done during the war, and the reality of going back to “normal life”. The show was the perfect reminder that the right thing can be done for the wrong reasons, and vice versa. Peggy is not perfect, her male co-workers can be assholes, a couple of the female antagonists are psychopaths, the good guys have dark secrets and the bad guys are sympathetic in their own ways.
And that’s just the show in general – that doesn’t even begin to get to the heart of Peggy herself. Here was a character for the ages – and one that made you wonder why it’s 2016 and we’re only NOW getting our “Wonder Woman” movie made, why there’s still practically zip in the way of “Black Widow” toys and don’t get me started on how Rey, the main-freaking-character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was cut out of the merchandising. Watching Agent Carter and witnessing the open hostility that was faced by women, on the job, in the street, and well, everywhere is a reminder of how far we’ve come. Watching Peggy deal with that shit is a reminder of how it’s done. Given that we’ve got a presidential candidate who has publicly referred to women as “a piece of ass” I think it’s safe to say that while we have come a long way we have a long way yet to go. Peggy handled it all. This is the hero we, not just women but all of us, need. For that matter, I’ll say that both Dottie and Whitney are the villains we need – they are each in their own way reflections of Peggy – smart, skilled, in Dottie’s case expendable, and in Whitney’s case undervalued and overlooked.
Peggy’s not a real person – I get that – but we need characters real and fictional to learn and grow from and women need to be represented. I have plenty of real women who I look up to and who inspire me: the “Night Witches”, Eleanor Roosevelt, Stephanie Kwolek (inventor of Kevlar), Misty Copeland, and Lillian Hellman, to name a few. At least for a little while I had a make-believe one who kicked ass while wearing red lipstick.