'Killing Eve' accused of 'queerbaiting' fans as Sandra Oh dismisses lesbian romance

Amy West
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer as Eve and Villanelle in <i>Killing Eve</i>. (BBC/Sid Gentle/Steve Schofield)
Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer as Eve and Villanelle in Killing Eve. (BBC/Sid Gentle/Steve Schofield)

Killing Eve has been accused of ‘queerbaiting’ viewers after Sandra Oh dismissed the chance of a lesbian romance between the show’s main characters.

In an interview with Gay Times, the former Grey’s Anatomy star shot down the fan theory that they’ll end up together, saying: “You guys are tricky because you want to make it into something… but it just isn’t.

“That’s also why I think sexuality and discovery of the wider reaches of sexuality is the theme of the show – why it’s interesting to people. It’s not one thing or another.”

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Adapted from Luke Jennings’ novella series by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Killing Eve centres on Eve Polastri (Oh), an MI5 security operative who becomes obsessed with tracking down Villanelle (Comer), an enigmatic assassin with psychopathic tendencies.

During the first season, fans took to social media to highlight moments that oozed romantic subtext between the two main characters - particularly a line that had Villanelle confessing to Eve that she masturbates about her “a lot.”

The second season - which is yet to air in the UK - seems to have its fair share of similar instances, like when Eve has sex with one of her coworkers while listening to Villanelle (who was wearing a wire so they could communicate) masturbate. Elsewhere, Villanelle - who is openly queer - refers to Eve as her “girlfriend.”

Before the latest instalment premiered in the US, promotional material for the show played into the “will they, won’t they” subtext, dropping the first trailer for season two - which was set to Addicted to Love - on Valentine’s Day. One poster depicted Eve and Villanelle in a dance-like embrace alongside the phrase, “Sorry baby.”

'Killing Eve' poster (BBC America)
'Killing Eve' poster (BBC America)

Responding to Oh’s recent comments, one viewer wrote on Twitter: “You don’t get to play up the relationship in marketing and then imply the fans are delusional for shipping it.

“And to think before this week I defended them against accusations of queerbaiting.”

Another said: “I'm not mad that they're apparently never going to have a sexual/romantic relationship. I am, however, rather annoyed that they clearly led us on and used us.

“I don't just throw around the accusation of queerbaiting but in this case, I sadly do believe they're guilty.”

A third joked: “The killing eve thing feels worse than standard queerbaiting, it’s like going to a restaurant called ‘pasta palace,’ ordering off a pasta menu, and then being brought a dish with no pasta, and the waiter looks at you like you’re crazy when you ask where the fettuccini is [sic].”

Not everyone seems to agree with the accusations however, arguing that Killing Eve can’t ‘queerbait’ viewers if it has a canonically non-heterosexual character.

“Okay y’all can stop being dramatic and saying killing eve is queerbaiting,” someone counterbalanced. “It isn’t queerbaiting when villanelle is canon gay and attracted to eve and eve is clearly canonly into villanelle too.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: (L-R) Winner of the Supporting Actress award for 'Killing Eve', Fiona Shaw, winner of the award for Drama Series for 'Killing Eve', Phoebe Waller-Bridge and winner of the Best Leading Actress award for 'Killing Eve', Jodie Comer pose in the Press Room at the Virgin TV BAFTA Television Award at The Royal Festival Hall on May 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (centre) adapted 'Killing Eve' from a series of spy novels by British author Luke Jennings (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

“Maybe I’m wrong in saying this,” a fellow defender began. But you were introduced to an lgbt character and lgbt action happened, it’s not queerbaiting because you didn’t get the relationship.”

Another added: “Just because Eve and Villanelle don’t have a sexual relationship (or even a healthy one) doesn’t mean Killing Eve is queerbaiting.

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“Maybe you don’t appreciate the psychological dynamics between the two and this show isn’t for you?”

With its second season having concluded in the US, Killing Eve returns to BBC iPlayer on Saturday 8 June.