My first reaction to Covert Affairs was this:
I have now finished the 1st season and let me be clear; I am horrified!
Annie Walker, a young sexy female CIA trainee is handpicked and fast-tracked suddenly finding herself Operative.
This could have been a funny twist on the sexy female agent trope. Perhaps that was what they were going for but let me tell you why and how they fail. Miserably.
Introduced as a pretty tomboy, Annie quickly evolves into Action Junkie Barbie.
When called in by a (male) CIA/military trainee officer, she awkwardly blabbers on admitting to sleeping with her taekwondo instructor. Which btw, is not against the rules. She has already checked.
In a couple of seconds, she is transformed into a geeky-girl-next-door type who knows how to google.
The CIA clears her after interviewing her with a series of questions about her sex life. We now know her beach relationship with ex Ben Mercer ended ugly, she is fluent in six languages and she likes to wear outrageous cleavages. It is a good thing her breast barely manages an A-cup or it would be boobies all over the place!
She comes off as a man-eater as we see her flirt with Conrad, a man she just met on the steps of her new CIA home. Who, in all honesty, is flirting with her.
Her awkwardness is yet again apparent when she tries to walk through security without her passkey. Switching her from sexy confident to silly and girly.
Here lays the secret to what I hoped this show would be like.
Already we have seen Annie as confident, silly, headstrong, naïve, determined, awkward, sexual, weak, smart, emotional and strong. Not completely one-dimensional.
It gives me hope.
However, there are signs I do not like.
Her commanding officer points out that she is the best driver of any women the CIA academy (?) ever have had. WTF?!
And, Conrad is goading her to make the no-passkey mistake.
The bureau needs Annie because she can pass as a hooker. Seemingly, as the only other woman in this department, Annie’s female boss gives her this assignment. As if that makes everything all right!
Her boss is another example of the sexist craftsmanship of the writers. She cannot trust her unfaithful husband, and continues to interrupt his business meetings throughout the entire season trying to shame him in front of others. Resulting in high bitch levels herself.
Auggie, a blind agent now acting as the geeky IT guy and obviously the romantic lead in this show, he cannot judge her by her looks. He has instead perfected the skill of listening to how other men talk to women to find out if they are sexy or not.
Back to Annie.
She flirts wherever she goes. It is her secret weapon but is seriously rattled when finding that her contact guy is an ugly middle-aged man, and she frowns at the ordinary looking man her sister sets her up with. Not giving it a chance in hell.
Instead of CIA mentoring her so she slowly gets better at what she does, everybody seems to be goading her and then laughs or yells at her for not doing her job well. Her ex being the only actual reason she is there.
She screams like a girl, cannot walk in those high-heeled Louboutins as if her life depended on it, and is manipulated by everyone around her.
At one point, her ex and her new loverboy bickers about how to best keep her safe, while she is there. Doing nothing.
Every episode ends with her being rescued by a man. She tries to fight but is defeated every fucking time.
In the second episode, just to be certain we get how womanly weak she is, she is equipped with a panic/rape alarm and pepper spray. Emphasizing her (gender) as a victim.
When Annie’s only female to look up to, her boss, gets the career opportunity of taking her husband’s job, making her the highest-ranking woman in the history of the CIA and do an amazing job at it.
In spite of all her confrontations with her husband, she turns the offer down willing to fight with him (instead of against) keeping their marriage true.
Is this actually an accurate portrait of a working woman in the patriarchy? Especially working in a male-oriented workplace?
Because when ex Mercer romantically asks Annie to change her ticket the next day, all I hear is, “Please sacrifice everything for me! As a man I cannot, but you are only a woman. You can.”