Why Everyone Should Watch Agent Carter
by Michelle Chan
Agent Carter, one of the few female-led television shows in the Hollywood industry, captures the events of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) following World War II––from her witty remarks against sexism to fighting off enemies in hand to hand combat. Not only does the show and the character serve as an inspiration to young women, it completely disregards the overwhelming stigma of stereotypes surrounding “badass” female characters (excuse my language) in television and film. “Strong” female characters are often depicted as being masculine and having a cold heart. However, Agent Carter proves that powerful women come in all forms, shapes, and sizes.
Carter, for one, does not have super-powers (unlike the majority of Marvel’s characters). But that doesn’t mean she isn’t strong. In fact, it empowers her. She is notorious for taking down enemies through her infamous fighting abilities while maintaining a perfect appearance. She is frequently seen sporting 1940’s business attire and wearing bright red lipstick to match her ravishing crimson hat, illustrating the confidence in herself. Throughout the show, Carter undertakes the responsibility to secretly conduct her own investigation of a case without the SSR’s consent. Without going into more details (for the sake of spoilers), she successfully describes the great lengths she must take in order to do what she does best without the constant scorning of her colleagues’ misogyny. Besides the aesthetics of 1950’s attire and the frequent urge to stand against the patriarchy, one thing stands out: Carter’s ability to tackle everyday sexism.
In the show, she is regularly belittled by her colleagues and is often the subject of their snarky remarks. Nevertheless, she keeps her head held high and mercilessly delivers comebacks that make you want to scream encouragements at the TV screen (I know I did). In a society where there are hardly any female leads, especially in the Marvel/superhero community, Agent Carter encourages women and young girls that being confident, strong, and independent is something to take pride in; that standing up against misogyny and sexism shouldn’t be discouraged. Like every other show, it has its flaws, such as the lack of a more diverse cast, but it is still one that has drastically changed the face of Hollywood. During these recent years, more and more people have advocated for feminism and women’s rights, so to see Marvel and ABC’s introduction of a female-led adaptation is pretty great.
With this second season on air, it brings light to a new environment where not only are the towering buildings of New York replaced by the glamorous world of Hollywood, but its cast is introduced to more diverse characters. It does not hesitate to address everyday racism during the Cold War and continues to tackle other social adversities. In the words of Atwell herself: “I spoke to a lot of fans, especially on social media who really, really wanted more diversity in the second season and that’s something the showrunners felt was not only in answer to the fans, but also an absolute appropriate progression. Since the first season heavily focused on a woman in a man’s world, we’re now going into more diversity and we’re investigating different prejudices within this time, and one of them absolutely would have been race, as we all know.”
Ultimately, what makes Agent Carter, well, Agent Carter, is, of course, the phenomenal Hayley Atwell. With her overwhelmingly charismatic, quirky attitude (I mean, have you seen her Twitter?) and her undeniable acts toward gender and racial equality, Atwell portrays Carter as not only a strong, independent woman, but a brilliant, multifaceted character as well. She knows her own value.