Agent Carter: Feminist Bad-Ass and Style Icon

I love Agent Carter.  Love. It.

In case you haven’t heard, Agent Carter is a brand new American TV series which forms part of the ever-expanding Marvel universe.  The 8 episode series centres on Peggy Carter, played fantastically by English actress Hayley Atwell.  Peggy was Captain America’s love-interest and all round war-hero spy in the (frankly mediocre) first Captain America Film.  But joy!  He pops his clogs (SPOILER sorry not sorry), and Peggy goes on to get her own ass-kicking spin-off series, which, by the way, has just been commissioned for a 10 episode second season.

Agent Carter Poster, look at that hat.

Peggy works for the fictional SSR (Scientific Strategic Reserve) in New York in 1946.  Peggy is best pals with womanising creepy rich guy Howard Stark, Iron Man’s daddy, she worked with him during the war, and now she finds herself having to clear up his mess without the knowledge of all the lads at her office.  Which she does with razor sharp wit and a raised eyebrow.  To say that the sets and costumes are fabulous would be an understatement.  A particular favourite of mine is the L&L automat, where Peggy’s determined and loyal friend Angie works.  Peggy has a great relationship with Angie, it is supportive and funny and oh so healthy.  It is wonderful to see a friendship between two women portrayed like this on the small screen.

The Automat in all its glory.
The hilarious and loyal Angie in her Automat uniform.

This Winter, and for the rest of my life in general, I aim to look like Agent Carter.  I am as they say. ‘channelling’ her style.  Peggy’s red lips and almond shaped red nails are to die for people, and this combined with her outrageously stylish work-wear wardrobe, consisting of a myriad of fabulous skirt suits, a black jumpsuit for action time, and a golden cold-shoulder movie star number for undercover spying, is a look I can really get behind.

Movie Star spy gear.
Pink and navy number.
Look at that waist, she is hot as hell and ready to kill (literally if necessary).

Doom-laden and stylish TV Series Mad Men is well-known for its realistic and often hard to watch representations of sexism in the workplace in 60s and 70s America, and Agent Carter deals with this tricky subject too, but with much more humour, and with Peggy consistently winning in the end.  I mean her office is wall to wall chauvinists, but Pegs proves each and every one of their sexist prejudices wrong, and even beats a few of them up for good measure.  She is often overlooked, at her co-workers peril, and she is perceived as weaker, less intelligent and is judged to only be there because of her relationship with Captain America, not because she’s the bomb.  Does Peggy let this stop her? Nope.  Does her male sidekick Howard Stark’s butler Jarvis challenge perceived male gender roles by being physically weak, obsessed with housework and romantic? Yep.  It’s just a delight to watch.  Here is what Atwell thinks of the situation, she was asked about sexism recently in this interview:

Do you feel like sexism is the real villain of “Agent Carter”?  Is it something the show is weaving in on purpose or is it just an everyday reality of 1946 for her?

Atwell: ‘I think it’s a bit of both. It’s funny, this whole thing of sexism, because it was more prominent in the 40s. It was more on the surface. So now looking back on it we can identify moments of misogyny or sexism. We can see them happening. Nowadays it’s a lot more subtle like, if a woman is in a high position, she finds herself being called a bitch or accused of being difficult. I think it’s much harder these days to identify moments of sexism, because they just have very sophisticated ways of hiding themselves.

But I think it’s true of Peggy that yes, it’s very much of its time and sexism is a background of tension, which is great. It doesn’t mean that she’s not out there trying to fight the bad guys. It just happens that some of the bad guys are in her office and should be on her side. So she just has that many more battles to deal with, which I think in terms of drama are far more interesting.

I think prejudice is always going be there. We just have to trump it.  We just have to keep on exposing it and trumping it and revealing it and naming it and making it clear and bringing it out into the light, out into the open to see it for what it really is. And then it really, truly has no power.

…that got really deep.’

Yes it did Hayley, and you are great.  Another reason Hayley is great, other than her acting abilities, is because she shared Peggy’s lipstick and nail varnish on Twitter, so that I can now buy them, which I will be doing asap.  The lipstick comes in a vintage gold tube, need I say more?

What a babe. Also the packaging is vintage perfection.
OPI Cinnamon Sweet.

The script is great, as are the cars, locations and actors, and I am thoroughly looking forward to what season 2 will bring, aside from the goddess Peggy taking down the patriarchy one tool at a time.

Rachael

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