The 'Agent Carter' Official Synopsis Puts a Troubling Focus on Romance
It takes a special kind of woman to remain at the forefront of Captain America's mind no matter how many decades it has been. Then again, considering the kind of noble person Steve Rogers is, maybe it doesn't. But if there's one thing to take from Peggy Carter's amazingly tragic cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it's that she's a retired badass who didn't get enough chances to shine on screen. When Marvel and ABC joined forces to create Agent Carter, a television show based around Peggy's adventures, all we could say was that it was about damn time. Now that Marvel has released the first details on Agent Carter, we should probably be wary instead.
The official plot synopsis sets up a promising but problematic storyline:
"Marvel's Agent Carter," starring Captain America's Hayley Atwell follows the story of Peggy Carter. It's 1946, and peace has dealt Peggy Carter a serious blow as she finds herself marginalized when the men return home from fighting abroad. Working for the covert SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve), Peggy must balance doing administrative work and going on secret missions for Howard Stark all while trying to navigate life as a single woman in America, in the wake of losing the love of her life--Steve Rogers.
It might be asking too much to expect that by 2014 we could stop mentioning a woman's love life in the plot synopsis of female-led shows. It's a television show. Hell, it's modern media. We all know there's going to be a romance storyline in there somewhere. Ending the synopsis with "trying to navigate life as a single woman in America", especially when putting it in the same sentence describing her professional career, reinforces the stereotype that there are only two aspects to a career woman's life — her career and her love life — and that the two will eventually be at odds with one another.
Sure, introducing new characters in the synopsis might have been confusing and the small paragraph doesn't necessarily imply that Peggy doesn't have friends or a family to contend with, but Captain America has never placed a focus on romance. Why should the spin-off do so just because Peggy Carter is the main character?
Of course, it can be just as problematic to imply that a woman with a healthy career can't also have a healthy romance, so maybe Marvel is making the right move in layering Peggy with issues that span every aspect of her life. Losing Steve did have a significant impact on her, so much so that she breaks down in tears when she sees him again in The Winter Soldier. She may have moved on and gotten married to someone else, but they had a genuine connection that still carries on to this day. Expecting that to just be cut out of Agent Carter is doing a disservice to Peggy as a character.
However, we also know that missing Steve didn't stop Peggy from working, from becoming a hero, and from helping to found S.H.I.E.L.D. with nothing but good intentions and pure, unfiltered badassery and I for one was hoping that Agent Carter would focus more on that than on Peggy's love life. This is, after all, the woman who completed a mission that was suggested to require three to five agents.
The synopsis starts strong, but if romance has enough of a focus in the television show that it needs to be mentioned in the description then Marvel might need to watch Captain America again. Peggy was so much more than who she was in love with. Let's keep her that way.
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