Netflix's The Dig is getting slammed for its portrayal of archaeologist Peggy Piggott, calling the movie sexist. Archaeologist Rebecca Wragg Sykes blasted the film, telling The Times that the movie belittled the famous archaeologist by making her into "something of a sidekick to her older husband, Stuart." The movie follows the story of one of Britain's greatest finds: the unearthing of the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo.
Lily James plays the 27-year-old excavator alongside Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan. As one scene shows, James as Piggott tells her boss she "hasn't done much fieldwork" and then proceeds to clumsily crash her foot through the top of an Anglo-Saxon ship's burial chamber. "On the whole, she is presented as deferential, even bumbling, putting her foot through a hollow feature," Wragg Sykes describes. Though, she claims that's not who the famous woman was in real life. In fact, she says Piggott was highly experienced. The film is based on the historical fiction novel about the dig written by Piggott's uncle John Preston. He claims that allegations that the young wife was "bumbling" are untrue. "She was 27 when she did the dig in real life, so to suggest that she was a grizzled professional is pushing it a bit," he says.
In the film, Mulligan stars as Edith Pretty, a wealthy widow in declining health interested in what could lay under the burial mounds on her land. Fiennes plays Basil Brown, a self-taught local archaeologist sent by the Ipswich Museum. His character heads the excavation project until Charles Phillips (Ken Stott) intervenes and tries to claim the British Museum site. Peggy is the wife of one of his proteges, Stuart Piggott (Ben Chaplin). As an added part of the story, James' character also falls for Edith Pretty's cousin after her husband suddenly treats her differently.