A spy thriller infused with pitch-black humour, charting the obsessive cat-and-mouse game that unfolds between the ultimate odd couple, a fashion-obsessed psychopath (who also happens to be an international assassin wanted by MI6) and a desk-bound, distinctly un-glamorous intelligence operative: Killing Eve, the eight part series from Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge that debuted on the BBC last weekend, is like nothing we’ve seen before on the small screen. It has all the twists, turns and high stakes of a John Le Carré novel, while skewering the stuffy boys’ club dynamic that always seems to pervade that sort of narrative. In fact, in Killing Eve, it’s the interactions between women, the tiny ways in which they watch and even obsess over one another, that’s more fascinating than any talk of global conspiracy. The strange relationship that evolves between Eve (Sandra Oh) and Molly Goddard-wearing killer Villanelle (Jodie Comer) feels as radical as Fleabag's frank monologues, and has us gripped from episode to episode.
What to do, then, when you've exhausted all eight installments of Killing Eve? Happily, season two is already in the works (in the ultimate over-achiever move, a second series of Waller-Bridge's show was commissioned before the first had even aired), with filming currently in process, but we'll be waiting around a while to see it. Thanks to its hard-to-describe, genre-bending qualities, Killing Eve is the sort of programme that would prove hard work for the cleverest of 'Because you liked...' algorithms. With that in mind, we've searched for shows that stay true to its spirit, whether that means an anarchic sense of humour or brilliant female characters, or just a great performance from a favourite cast member...
This year's best TV shows to date have one thing in common: they've showcased female characters who are different and difficult, from Killing Eve's charming, glamourous psychopath Villanelle to hard-drinking, hard-to-like reporter Camille Preaker. Played by Amy Adams, she's the centre of HBO's adaptation of Sharp Objects, the lesser-known debut novel from Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn (who also wrote the script for the series). Returning to her home town of Wind Gap, Missouri, to investigate the murder of a young girl and the disappearance of yet another, Camille finds herself face to face with the ghosts of her and her family's past.
Streaming on NOWTV until September 26th
The Little Drummer Girl
The spy genre all too often feels like one massive boys' club, and that's part of why Killing Eve has felt so refreshing. Luckily, the BBC is serving us another female-led thriller this autumn. Two years after The Night Manager, another John Le Carré novel is getting the big-budget miniseries treatment. In The Little Drummer Girl, the magnetic Florence Pugh will get a long-overdue lead TV role as Charlie, a young actress who gets caught up in a high stakes espionage plot when she becomes involved with an Israeli intelligence officer (played by Big Little Lies' Alexander Skarsgard).
Airs on BBC One this autumn
OK, so you were probably drawn to Killing Eve thanks to those five words, 'from the creator of Fleabag.' But if, somehow, you've missed out so far, may we implore you to watch the six-part series? Based on the award-winning one-woman show that Phoebe Waller Bridge debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe back in 2013, it's a darkly funny and incisive exploration of a female psyche in all its messiness. 'Fleabag' (we never learn her proper name) works in a novelty guinea pig café that (surprisingly) never has any customers, ricochets between depressing sexual encounters and mourns her best friend, whose death has decentered her entire universe. Amidst all that self-loathing, though, you'll find some one-liners that'll stick with you for weeks.
Streaming on BBC iPlayer
Before Killing Eve, BBC America was home to another genre-bending, female-fronted thriller: Orphan Black, starring Tatiana Maslany. It's premise is a bizarre, unsettling one: Sarah (Maslany) discovers she is one of a 'family' of clones when she witnesses the suicide of a stranger who is identical to her. Enter a fleet of characters who all look exactly the same, but with very different personalities, all played by Maslany, who will often interact with multiple versions of herself in the same scene (confused yet?). It's hardly a surprise that she's won an Emmy for the role (and was nominated again this year, alongside Killing Eve's Sandra Oh). For those of us outside the US, all five seasons are currently available on Netflix.
Streaming on Netflix
Much like Fleabag, Chewing Gum started off life as a one woman stage play, Chewing Gum Dreams, by a writer and actress, Michaela Coel. Fourth wall-breaking monologues aside, though, that's where the similarities end: Deeply original and riotously funny, Chewing Gum follows Tracey (Coel), a Beyoncé-obsessed twenty-something living with her deeply religious family in a high rise in Tower Hamlets, as she grapples with the complications of adulthood - including her repeatedly thwarted attempts to lose her virginity.
Available on All4
Before she became best known as the creator of Fleabag, Phoebe Waller Bridge wrote and starred in Channel 4's under-looked sitcom _Crashing (_not to be confused with the HBO show of the same name that still airs in the US). If the Friends gang lived in inexplicably well-appointed flat shares in the '90s (giving us inflated expectations of adulthood in the process), Crashing switched up this trope for generation rent: its group of dysfunctional twenty-somethings are property guardians, living together in a disused hospital building to beat London prices.
Streaming on All4
Just as you'll have doubtless caught Jodie Comer as the other woman in Doctor Foster's love triangle (the long blonde hair that initially sparks Gemma's suspicions of foul play belongs to her character, Kate), you'll probably have missed her in Thirteen, the BBC Three series that first aired in 2016. In it, Comer plays Ivy, a young woman who is reunited with her family after spending 13 years imprisoned in a cellar by her abductor, and must adjust to everyday life – until a further kidnapping forces her to confront her memories of captivity. TV isn't short of missing girls, but Comer's performance makes this one worth sticking with.
Streaming on BBC iPlayer
All eight episodes of Killing Eve are available to watch on BBC iPlayer; one episode will be broadcast each week on BBC One at 9.15pm on Saturdays.