Missing Agent Carter? Watch These Shows!
Agent Carter has been granted a season 2, which will find Peggy Carter having future adventures in Los Angeles. Hayley Atwell tweeted that the show has been expanded from 8 to 10 episodes, so everything is coming up roses for fans of the series. (Why is ABC being so stingy with the Agent Carter order when the show had about the same ratings as Once Upon a Time, which mangled its way through 24 episodes in season 4?)
However, September is still more than three months away, so we recommend satisfying your Agent Carter feels with a look at these other fine programs you might have missed.
Show: The Bletchley Circle
Like Agent Carter, the Bletchley Circle picks up where World War II left off, with women retreating from work and government roles to return to the home front. The series follows former code-breakers of Bletchley Park, the clerks who became experts in decryption and puzzles. Due to the strict orders of the Official Secrets Act, the women kept their roles secret for decades, often even from their spouses.
The series begins in 1952 with Susan, a pattern recognition expert who so misses the mental stimulation offered by the War that she starts tracking the movements of a serial killer using radio and newspaper reports. She enlists the help of her former comrades to solve the mystery. In flashbacks to 1942, we see the ladies promising each other their lives would never be ordinary. But after the War, they find it difficult not to be ordinary. Susan’s husband is an injured war veteran who is preoccupied with his own career and knows nothing about Susan’s past. Susan stays home with the children, but she is frustrated by the fact that the police aren’t detecting the patterns she believes will identify the killer.
Why: If you love subtle drama, you’ll adore the performance of Anna Maxwell Martin as Susan. Her restrained, economical approach to her character will fascinate you. Also: the women meet up and solve crimes, disguising their endeavor as a book club!
Show: Bomb Girls
Bomb Girls tells the story of the women and men who risked their lives to work in munitions factory during World War II. You’ll meet characters like Kate, a beautiful singer fleeing her abusive evangelical family; Gladys, the classic rich girl who wants to defy social expectations; Betty, a lesbian struggling to find her freedom; and Lorna (played by Meg Tilly and my favorite character), the tough matron of the factory who discovers new contours of her heart when she meets a younger man.
Why: If you love historical dramas, Bomb Girls will give you a crash course on Canadian history during the World War II era. It’s also soapy and campy and unafraid to take on a bunch of issues, so be mindful of the cordite and get on the assembly line!
Show: Mad Men
Admit it. You think Mad Men celebrates the sexist advertising industry of the Swinging Sixties. That’s a gross overstatement. Mad Men is about men and women struggling to define themselves and their futures in an era when the Establishment suddenly starts to crumble. The show’s writers’ room was an anomaly: for most seasons, there were more women writers than men (7 of 9 writers in season 3, for example) and the show frequently featured female directors. Mad Men destroyed the idea that women writers can only write women’s shows.
Viewers have certain expectations about entertainment products set in the 60s and Mad Men openly defies them. The women characters aren’t linking arms in solidarity, heading to Woodstock and burning their bras, because 99% of women weren’t doing that in the 1960s. Mad Men resists cliches and presents three-dimensional women. Young Peggy Olsen intends to be a secretary and finds out she has talent as a copywriter. Joan Holloway is the Ur-secretary who has a total mastery of office politics. Betty Draper is a cool, remote housewife who is hemmed in by the world she was raised in but doesn’t seem to know it. These three women couldn’t be more different from one another.
Why: You’ll see a realistic depiction of the massive amount of vile sexism women experienced at that time, but this is a good reality check and you owe to them to watch. Although the changes in the characters seem slow at first, they travel many miles over the course of the series. The show starts in 1960, with the world still very much shaped by the 1950s. It ends in 1970 with the country lurching into depression.
Also – costume designer Janie Bryant is the best working in TV today and her brilliant design is not to be missed.
Show: Law & Order SVU
So you like female-led television shows with a ballsy detective solving crimes in the Big Apple, eh? Look no further than Law & Order: SVU. But not just any SVU – seasons 2 through 4 featuring ADA Alexandra Cabot. This show goes through ADAs the way Once Upon a Time goes through villains, but the first ADA was the best one. If you’ve never watched SVU, you need to know the show’s early years are not necessarily representative of the rest of the show, which has undergone about 5 reinventions. (You can tell the era according to Mariska Hargitay’s hairstyle).
Why: Alex and Olivia are going to fight over sad cases, bond over sad cases, and surreptitiously wear matching necklaces. And it’s going to be good.
WHat did we leave off?
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