Many have lauded marvel’s short-lived TV show ‘Agent Carter’ as a triumph for modern feminism (especially because of how the show deals with office politics – Peggy Carter versus the men of the SSR). And while there are more than a few feminist touches throughout the show, I think people who interpret ‘Agent Carter’ merely as a vehicle for feminism are missing the bigger picture.
Peggy Carter is a woman lost to herself. Her work during WWII was vital to the success of the British war effort and her love for Steve Rogers (Captain America) was and is a defining moment in her life. But now that the war has ended, Peggy’s days of usefulness are over. At least it seems that way to her employers. They keep her busy doing… not much of anything.
Unknown to them, Peggy is engaged in besting spies and thugs and uncovering a great threat to America (and the world) — a crime ring known as Leviathan. Yet she still feels unwanted. One of her best friends is under suspicion of crimes he didn’t commit and Peggy can’t seem to find a way through to clearing his innocence. Her coworkers still belittle and demean her. Even in the middle of her greatest triumphs over Leviathan, Peggy still feels like less than a person.
However, even in the middle of her spy work and mounting depression, she still takes time to help others. Encourage them, even. She rents an apartment in the same building as one of her friends, Angie, simply to strengthen their friendship. She extends kindness and comradeship to a stiff British guy named Edwin Jarvis. And she even reaches out to one of her coworkers (admittedly, the nicest one) who himself feels beaten down by life because of his wartime injuries.
In the final episode of the series, ‘Valediction,’ you come to know the SSR department in a way not seen before. (Trying to steer clear of spoilers here.) Yes, most of them are chauvinistic and rude. But they are still people. People with a lot to learn, but still human beings — a fact that Peggy recognizes and accepts, even though she won’t always agree with her coworkers and employers. Though she might not have enough grace to forgive and forget the wrongs done to her in the past (or those that will come) neither does she lash out.
And when Peggy says “I know my value” (on the heels of another agent taking credit for her achievements), I want to cheer. She knows her value. So does Jarvis. And Angie. And Daniel Sousa (her coworker with war injuries).
Sometimes stories about spies devalue human life, reducing human beings to ‘agents’ and life and death struggles to ‘mission reports.’ But ‘Agent Carter’ embraces humanity — the good and the bad — and comes out a stronger show because of it. Because what the writers of the series get across is that every human being matters. Whether you’ve been falsely accused, wounded, shoved to the side, brainwashed, manipulated, or transplanted into a foreign country… you have value.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eva-Joy Schonhaar is an aspiring author who has written several novels and hopes to be published some day soon. She’s a Christian fangirl who drinks insane amounts of coffee, thinks that chocolate chip cookies solve pretty much everything, and always uses the Oxford Comma. In her spare time she can be found geeking out over superheroes and reading The Hunger Games for the millionth time.