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Why ABC Should Renew Agent Carter Despite Its Dismal Ratings

Please don't let this be the last we've seen of Peggy Carter

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Sadie Gennis

Agent Carter is one of the best shows on television, but you wouldn't know it from the ratings. Last week's two-hour block boasted a meager 2.5 million viewers and a 0.7 in adults 18-49. Meaning: The best thing we can say about Agent Carter's ratings is that it's approximately double what the Mulaney finale managed this time last year.

But unlike Mulaney, Agent Carter deserves better. It's a uniquely charming series that blends the best parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, spy procedurals, period pieces and caper comedies into a single show that's unlike anything else out there. This season alone, Agent Carter has managed to include everything from a deadly interdimensional energy substance, nuanced explorations of the ways women cope with systemic oppression, slapstick flamingo jokes and a charming old Hollywood song-and-dance number. Oh, and did I mention how gorgeous the execution of the series' 1940s setting is? I've never wanted a wide-legged pantsuit so badly in my life!

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Agent Carter is also an unapologetically feminist series that's only beginning to scratch the surface of its own potential. When Agent Carter premiered, it was the sole project within the MCU headlined by a woman. Thankfully, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) has now joined Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in that minuscule club, but if Carter gets canceled, Marvel will once again be left with only one woman standing until 2019, when Captain Marvel premieres. Not only is that a bad look for Marvel, but it would be a shame to shut down Agent Carter before it can further its exploration of what it means to be anything other than a straight, white man in the '40s and - to an extent - today.

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Far beyond its feminist themes, there are so many other interesting things left to explore in Peggy Carter's life: the introduction of Hydra, the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D., her role in the Cold War - not to mention her developing romance with Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) and whoever shot (!!!) and maybe killed (!!!) Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray). These are threads I need picked up and ones I have full faith Agent Carter would take in unexpected and exhilarating directions. That's because unlike many comic book series, Agent Carter is extremely focused. There's no sprawling mythology or constant need to mold itself around tie-ins for other properties. Instead, Agent Carter tells precise stories about well-developed characters in a world where nothing is introduced without a reason.

There is a quiet confidence to Agent Carter. It knows exactly what it is and has never tried to be anything else simply to court viewers (here's looking at you, S.H.I.E.L.D.). Its narrative integrity is likely why we've seen the last of Peggy, Jarvis (James D'Arcy) and Sousa, but also why the show will at least go out as a beloved, critically acclaimed darling and not a hollow, superhero-filled remnant of what it once was.

And even if ABC doesn't recognize Agent Carter's worth, we know its value and - as Peggy said - anyone else's opinion doesn't really matter.



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