Killing Eve, Last Year’s Best New Show, Has Become Too Big For Just One Network

The BBC America drama will also air on AMC when it returns April 7

Killing Eve's second season will pick up just 30 seconds after the Season 1 finale. - Credit by Aimee Spinks/BBC America
Headshot of Jason Lynch

Killing Eve was one of last year’s biggest surprises. The BBC America drama—Adweek’s best new TV show of 2018—built on its 18-49 and 25-54 demo audience each week during Season 1, which the network said was the first new scripted series to do so since Nielsen’s live-plus-3 measurement began more than a decade ago.

Now, parent company AMC Networks is looking to keep the show’s ratings streak going in Season 2. When Killing Eve returns on Sunday, April 7, the series will air on AMC as well as BBC America.

“We believe we’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential viewers for this,” said Sarah Barnett, AMC Networks’ president of entertainment networks, at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. Killing Eve, she added, “has the storytelling genetics to break out into the wider mass culture.”

The series, based on Luke Jennings’ Villanelle novellas about an MI5 operative (Eve Polastri, played by Sandra Oh) tracking an assassin (Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer) around Europe, has a new showrunner in its second season. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, named one of Adweek’s Creative 100 last year, has passed the baton to executive producer Emerald Fennel.

Stepping in for Waller-Bridge is “terrifying, but amazing,” said Fennel. “I was lucky that I came on board before it came out [last year]. Otherwise, it might have been hiding-under-the-bed time.”

Oh —who in the past month has won both a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her turn as Eve—said that Fennel and Waller-Bridge have been friends for years and share a “kinship,” so the series “really moved from one hand to a similar hand.”

When Killing Eve returns, the show will pick up 30 seconds after the Season 1 finale. The events of that episoide, in which—spoiler alert—Eve stabs Villanelle, “affects and changes them in a way that neither of them are expecting,” said Comer.

Added Oh, “you see them vulnerable in slightly different ways, because they’ve crossed a line, and there’s no going back.”

One big struggle for both characters in Season 2, said Oh: “How can you come to terms with a relationship that seems to be impossible? That’s we’re trying to figure out.”

The new season also introduces another killer, which Fennel said will shed light on whether Eve is “an assassin expert” or “a Villanelle expert.”

As for what caused the show’s unprecedented ratings success last year, “there’s something about Phoebe and Emerald’s humor that is about the instability of the time we’re in now,” said Fiona Shaw, who plays Carolyn Martens, referring to the tumultuous political landscape in both England and the U.S. “This series absolutely nails that, that nobody has any idea what is going to happen next.”

Another likely attraction for Killing Eve’s audience: “It shows how many of us of monsters. The darker the humor gets, the more people get it and appreciate it,” said Fennel.

Executive producer Sally Woodward-Gentle said viewers are attracted by “the freedom to be naughty, and to enjoy being naughty. What Villanelle does is a bit of wish fulfillment.”

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.