Villanelle swishing boldly through the Tuilleries wearing Molly Goddard in Killing Eve; Thandie Newton nursing her own withered hand in Line Of Duty; Issa Rae’s rolled eyes at another bad date in Insecure; Keeley Hawes’ Home Secretary’s invitation to her hot, troubled security man in Bodyguard; Midge’s blowback from her husband’s infidelity in The Marvellous Mrs Maisel. Whatever door had been flung open by Big Little Lies in 2017 was positively charged through this year by a succession of stroppy, complex, amazing and audacious female characters. Everywhere you looked in 2018, women were behaving like superlative badasses on TV.
The show of the year was, of course, Killing Eve. Written by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, it turned every stultifying convention of screenwriting on its head to deliver a succession of startling new archetypes. By making the goodie (Sandra Oh’s Eve Polastri), the baddie (fashion’s first assassin, Villanelle) and the boss (Fiona Shaw’s skewed chief of spies) a sea of perfectly aggregated oestrogen, it was as if the writer set out to atone for every beautiful corpse and glamorous assistant role that sullies TV tradition.
And what a supporting cast she assembled in her wake. Fiery, lively dames, directly in tune with their times. Whether it was Zazie Beetz’s Van telling her lame on/off boyfriend Earn to sling his hook at the end of Atlanta’s perfect second season, or Alia Shawkat devouring the disingenuousness of social media in the brilliant tale of the missing college friend, Search Party, the plethora of recognisable characters drawn from real life felt like a rush of blood to the head.
In 2018, the high, the low and every shade in between rocked TV screens out of their state of misogynous inertia. As the new Doctor Who slogan put it, advertising their new female protagonist, ‘Jodie Whittaker: about time’.
This year's TV by numbers...
- 38% increase in people searching for ‘Molly Goddard pink dress’ after Jodie Comer wore the now iconic outfit in Killing Eve
- 10.4m - The number of viewers who tuned in to the Bodyguard finale – the largest audience for a BBC drama in a decade
- 9m - Doctor Foster returned for a second series, with nine million viewers tuning in for the finale
- 8.2m - The number who watched Jodie Whittaker become the first woman to take on Doctor Who
Photos: Supplied and Instagram