Now That Season 2 Is Officially Happening, It’s Time To #DiversifyAgentCarter

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Most people that watched Season 1 of Marvel’s Agent Carter loved it, mainly because it was a great show and Peggy Carter is a FANTASTIC character, but there was one constant criticism: the lack of diversity. For a show that is supposedly super feminist, the main cast was made up almost entirely of straight white men. This criticism took a back seat while Agent Carter’s future was in jeopardy, but now that it’s officially been picked up for a second season, fans are celebrating by calling for the writers to #DiversifyAgentCarter.

Marvel’s Agent Carter received a fair amount of criticism even before it started airing because the regular cast consisted of Hayley Atwell and 4 white dudes. It was great to see a woman take the lead but Peggy Carter was literally surrounded by men. The lack of diversity became more apparent as the series progressed. There were only around 5 POC with speaking roles, and 3 of those died. The one memorable WOC was one of Howard Stark’s jilted lovers. Agent Carter did a great job of showcasing the sexism white women encountered post-WWII, but it ignored most other aspects of discrimination.

Fandom’s quest for increased diversity in Marvel’s Agent Carter manifested itself in the #DiversifyAgentCarter hashtag on Twitter. The tag was started by Mikki Kendall in a tweet that said: “Someone should create a #DiversifyAgentCarter tag & fill it with facts about the 40’s in New York so the writers have no excuse.” The #DiversifyAgentCarter tag was soon filled with fans explaining how and why Agent Carter could and should strive for more diversity in Season 2.

#DiversifyAgentCarter because an all-white cast is as bad as an all-male cast. – @Hello_Tailor

A black doctor/lawyer/academic/police officer in the 1800s isn’t historically inaccurate, let alone the 1940s. #DiversifyAgentCarter – @JustineLavaworm

#DiversifyAgentCarter because historic & canon accuracy that would help the ratings. – @Karnythia

Agent Carter is great. (And just got renewed!) It can be even better, by showing how the 40s actually were. #DiversifyAgentCarter – @juliansinger

The demands of the #DiversifyAgentCarter campaign are very clear and not particularly extreme, as explained by Mikki Kendall when asked what she hopes to achieve with the #DiversifyAgentCarter tag: “I really just wanted to push the conversation forward a little. So much has been said about how feminist Agent Carter is, and if that’s the idea then it needs to be true to the actual history and comics canon which is so much better about being inclusive.” Fans just really want to see Agent Carter reflect a more realistic, and frankly more interesting, version of New York than was seen in Season 1.

A quick look at the hashtag shows that the majority of people joining this movement LOVE this show, and genuinely want to see it become better. Even those that were disappointed by the first season obviously see potential to improve. “I’d really like to see the showrunners pay attention to their fan base,” explained Mikki Kendall. “I want fans to keep pushing on and off Twitter for more diverse media. It’s not that I’m trying to pick on this one show. It’s literally that I was really excited for it, wanted to love it, and it fell completely flat for me and a lot of other people in part because of the lack of representation.”

I love this show and I think it should strive to be better. #DiversifyAgentCarter – @HappyBekki

#DiversifyAgentCarter because it’s too good a show not to make it great. Better representation = better TV. – @guinevak

I’m glad #AgentCarter is getting an S2 because now they have the chance to talk about how racism and sexism intersect. #DiversifyAgentCarter – @therisingtithes

Because it’s already something truly great, and having it take the next step up can only add, #DiversifyAgentCarter – @DuffmanMedic

#AgentCarter is so, so important to me. I want to see it grow into what I firmly believe it has the capacity to be. #DiversifyAgentCarter – @RaeBeta

#DiversifyAgentCarter bc I love the show and could love it even more if it weren’t a white-washed representation of post-war NYC. – @caitefa

Being a fan of something doesn’t mean you can’t see it’s weak spots. Everyone in the #diversifyagentcarter campaign loves the show. – @buckbeakbabie

Fans haven’t just been tweeting vague complaints, they’re also offering potential characters and storylines, as well as historical bases for the inclusion of diverse characters – in case anyone decides to try the “historical accuracy” argument. There are a lot of requests to see Howling Commandos Jim Morita and Gabe Jones return; many fans are still holding out to see the romance between Peggy and Gabe that was seen in the comics. There’s also a huge movement to see Anna Jarvis – a Jewish woman – actually appear on screen this season. Someone even suggested that Nick Fury’s grandfather could have been a elevator operator by day and a secret agent by night. Perhaps the most intriguing suggestion is for Agent Carter to delve into Isaiah Bradley’s storyline as told in TRUTH: Red, White, & Black.

Obviously some suggestions are better than others, but it’s not about specifics, really – although all these suggestions show just how easy it would be to incorporate more diversity into Peggy’s world – it’s about the idea. Fans just want to see Peggy interact with the wider world because a show that has so much to say about sexism surely has something to say about the other injustices that were occurring.

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When asked what a more diverse Agent Carter would look like, Mikki Kendall said: “We see Peggy working in Harlem, Chinatown, and other communities of color in NYC. We’d see her interacting with Japanese war brides, talking to people like Josephine Baker, who was integral to the war effort, just generally mixing it up with what was actually going on in NY at the time. If we can see Peggy fighting sexism in the government post-war, then why can’t we see people of color fighting racism, (especially women of color who were facing both), or homophobia? There was a lot going on after WW2, and it is really weird to see all of that erased from a superhero-based show where the source material addressed it.”

Kendall’s requests are not exorbitant – especially compared to some of the demands that fan groups make via Twitter. In fact, all of her suggestions could be incorporated into pretty much any story the Agent Carter team wanted to tell. And that’s a theme that follows through the hashtag. It’s not about telling professionals that fans can do better, it’s about pointing out an obvious blind spot that it would be in their favour to rectify.

Diversity/representation was one of our major criticisms of #AgentCarter. With season 2 announced, it’s time to #DiversifyAgentCarter – @Level7AccessPod

#DiversifyAgentCarter because historic & canon accuracy that would help the ratings. – @Karnythia

The most wonderful thing about the #DiversifyAgentCarter tag is that there is an overwhelming sense of hope. Everyone that wants to see a more diverse Agent Carter seems to genuinely believe that it’s possible. Agent Carter’s creative team should be proud because that kind of faith is hard to come by. It’s also easy to lose, and it would be awful to see the vibrant Agent Carter fandom despair because the creative team couldn’t institute a few simple changes.

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Right now it seems like the powers that be are taking note; a number of fans have said that an executive producer has favorited some tweets in the #DiversifyAgentCarter tag. And reports from Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia have said that Hayley Atwell “really supports the idea of more diversity/poc in season 2 of agent carter & will try to make it happen with the writers”. That’s a fairly solid start for any fan campaign. Any fan that’s been around for a while will know that Rome was not built in a day, and in order for this campaign to work fans have to keep the momentum going. If you’re looking for more information the #DiversifyAgentCarter tag is a great place to start. Reasons To Watch Agent Carter Tumblr has a post on how to contact ABC*, and Knit Me A Pony has written an handy form letter for anyone that isn’t sure what to say.

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Look, one hashtag is not going to fix the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s diversity problem, but it might just turn a good show into a great one. Personally, as a feminist and a fan of Agent Carter, I want this show to represent ALL women. Because if it doesn’t then it’s not really as feminist as it thinks it is.

*For more information on who and how to contact check out this post.

Author: Undie Girl

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.



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