Obsessed with Killing Eve’ – Re-Situating Knowledge and Consumption after Covid and Climate Change

The lecture investigates how the COVID pandemic and the urgency of climate change has generated marked shifts in modes of digital consumption, re-situating reception and engagement with contemporary television. Taking the BBC/Hulu adaptation series Killing Eve (2018-) as an example, I will sketch how (1) the series displays the consumption of clothes, food, cities and language in exemplary pre-Covid and pre-Brexit ways, and (2) how podcasts and other fan-produced content indicate post-Covid changes in ways of consuming popular television series. The lecture, therefore, departs from dominant feminist readings of Killing Eve (and particularly the central character Villanelle) as an example of the unruly female anti-heroine in the vein of a gender-flipped James Bond (see Perkins/Schreiber 2019, Waites 2021, Pribram 2021, “naughty assassin” Hyesoon Kim/Young Min Choi 2020) or the woman-centric doubling of Eve and Villanelle (De Carli/Indrusiak 2020). My point of departure is rather Maria Sulimma‘s point that the show „normalizes instant aeromobility as a foundation for the kind of European city-hopping that contributes to anthropogenic climate change“ (Sulimma 2021). Expanding Sulimma’s critique and focusing on trends towards new modes and genres of adaptive reception that have been accelerated by the recent pandemics, the paper also argues that the show teaches Adaptation Studies scholars how to change their perspective: away from a solitary focus on a comparative hermeneutics of source texts and television adaptation (here: Observer dance critic Luke Jennings’s series of novellas Codename Villanelle). While a recent Guardian article continues to view Killing Eve in the context of a supposed rivalry between original and adapted television, re-iterating a rather marginal aspect of the series (Dugdale 2018, see also the semiotic approach by o Amaral/do Lago 2021), a reading of the series in terms of the practices of reception-based digital adaptations opens perspectives on the re-situated knowledge and practice of post-Covid fan consumption.

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