BBC America's Killing Eve is one of the biggest shows to debut in 2018. The series is a fun new take on the detective and serial killing cat-and-mouse game, but with a twist: Both cat and mouse are played by women. This may not seem like a significant change, but in a genre traditionally dominated by men, this gender flip breathes an entirely new angle into was is otherwise a standard cliche. Lead actress Sandra Oh has been rewarded too, with her first Lead Actress nomination. Sandra Oh's response to her Emmy nomination, which is historic, is just the best.
Oh is the first Asian American woman to even be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama in 70 years of Emmy history. Oh was nominated four years running (but never won) in the Supporting Actress category for Grey's Anatomy, but this is her first turn in the lead spot.
Just as importantly, Oh was cast as Eve Polastri in the show even though the character in the book wasn't strictly Asian. Oh admitted in an interview with Elle during Killing Eve's run she didn't immediately understand when they sent her the script the production wanted her to play Eve. "That was actually one of the heartbreaking things for me. I realized in that moment how deep the internalization was."
For those who didn't see the first season, here's the show's synopsis:
Oh’s Eve is a bored, whip-smart, pay-grade security services operative whose desk-bound job doesn’t fulfill her fantasies of being a spy. But she soon comes up against Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, an elegant, talented killer who clings to the luxuries her violent job affords her. These two fiercely intelligent women, equally obsessed with each other, go head to head in an epic game of cat and mouse.
Breaking down the barriers, both external and internal paid off. Killing Eve Season 1 praised handsomely in reviews, and the ratings climbed every episode. Now with her nomination for Lead Actress, she's made history.
Speaking to Deadline, Oh talked about the moment she found out she'd been nominated.
Oh said that she was with a fellow Asian-American actress when she found out and her friend started yelling at her. 'Seeing her Asian face and congratulating me means a lot to me and a lot to our community and it’s not only the beauty of being acknowledged for your work, it’s an acknowledgement of my community and that has not always been the case.'
In all, Killing Eve nabbed two nominations in the Drama bracket, with the other going to Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series.
Oh clearly loves her character and the show:
There’s plenty of shows and entertainment that has women in them, but this focuses so intently on female psychology and because that’s the focus and interest of the show, we’re able to mine and create complex characters and that’s what people are responding to.
According to the show's producer Sally Woodward-Gentle, the production was just as thrilled with Oh, as well as her counterpart Jodie Comer. Speaking to Deadline, she said:
It is quite rare to see two extraordinary women as leads, who are given free rein to do their best work with brilliant scripts. She’s got the gravitas and emotional weight and her breadth is extraordinary.
For those who missed the series when it was on, the eight-episode first season is available for streaming via BBC America as well as on Hulu. I highly recommend catching up too, because Killing Eve Season 2 is already greenlit. Woodward-Gentle promises the show will go “even further down the rabbit hole.”
Killing Eve Season 2 is expected to arrive on BBC America next year. The Emmys air on NBC on Sunday, September 17, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET.