If you like your murder mysteries with a side of feminism, then BBC America's new series Killing Eve might be the show for you. But if you're looking for a gripping true story, then you might be in for some disappointment. So, for those wondering if Killing Eve is based on a true story, I'm sorry to tell you that it's a work of complete fiction. But if you're down for some highly entertaining sleuthing and assassin-ing then buckle up, my friend.
The new series is described as a "cat and mouse game" between Villanelle, a skilled and beautiful assassin, and Eve, the bored and bright security officer who dreams of becoming a spy. In a very positive review, TVLine describes the new series as "fun" despite its many murders. The show adds a sense of lightness to the traditionally dour genre, pitting former Grey's Anatomy star Sandra Oh as Eve against newcomer Jodie Comer as Villanelle. Both women excel in their male-dominated fields despite being consistently undervalued, though they are set up as foils for one another. Eve lives a quiet, modest life with a mild-mannered husband. Villanelle revels in the luxury her high-risk occupation affords her. Now this sounds like a murder show I can really get behind.
But though female secret agents and female assassins are definitely real, this show isn't based on specific people or real events. According to the show's description, it was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who you'll know as the star and showrunner of Fleabag. And the script was based on a series of novellas by Luke Jennings. The first book is called Codename Villanelle and the description of the book gives a little more insight into Villanelle's actual origins. Villanelle started out as Oxana Vorontsova, a star linguistics student awaiting trial in Russia's Ural Mountains for the murder of two men.
According to the book's version of events, Oxana was spared her fate when she was recruited by a secretive global elite to become an assassin. She loves living in the lap of luxury but her life becomes dangerous when she is tasked with killing a Mafia boss. So yeah, it's not exactly the type of thing you might see on Investigation Discovery, but it is the kind of story that is destined to drag thousands of viewers into a rabbit hole of obsession not unlike the obsessiveness that the show's main characters have for each other.
"The fascination into obsession and infatuation just continues to grow. By episode 4, you can really see them just barreling towards each other. I love that. Also what I love about it is neither of them exactly know why," Oh says in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Oh also stated that she felt very honored to be given the role of Eve and was initially drawn to the script when she learned that Waller-Bridge was going to be a part of it. According to Deadline, Oh also noted at the Television Critics Association that the author of the series supported her casting as Eve. “I was also so pleased when Luke actually came on board with my casting as well,” she said. “Because when you choose your family, it might not be what you’re reading in the novella.”
So no, the show is not a true-to-life story. But sometimes I think I prefer a story with a bit of fantasy to it rather than thinking about real people who were actually killed. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I am extremely excited for this series.
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