First off, sorry its taken me so long to get around to doing this. I wasn’t able to watch Jessica Jones when it was first released because I was in the frantic final days of my thesis. I finished watching it over the weekend, however, and knew that I had to make a post about it ASAP.
*** Spoilers for the entire season of Jessica Jones below
***Also, I’m going to be talking about the show’s exploration of issues such as rape, sexual violence, and female agency, so if that’s not ok for you, be warned and don’t read this post.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones follows the story of hard drinking, hard swinging private investigator Jessica Jones. She’s an asshole, I think she only owns one pair of pants, and she can lift cars.
I love her.
I really loved Daredevil, which was Marvel’s first team up with Netflix. It was brutal, intense, had great pacing and comedic timing, and did a WAY better job of bringing Matt Murdoch to the screen than that god awful Ben Affleck film. When I heard Marvel and Netflix were going to do Jessica Jones next I was understandably pumped. Jessica Jones does not disappoint. It has a slightly different feel to Daredevil, obviously, but not different in a bad way.
One of the things I loved about Daredevil was the exploration of the line between good and evil. The Kingpin (Wilson Fisk played by Vincent D’Onofrio) was a very ambiguous villain, and the audience was rooting for him more than once. Jessica Jones takes a very different stance with its villain, and thank god for that.
In the first episode we learn that there is a man in NYC kidnapping young women, and that Jessica is one of his previous victims. We learn that his name is Kilgrave (“Was ‘murdercorpse’ already taken?” Great line!), and he has the power to control people with his mind. Instead of using this power for good, he forces women to fall in love with him, have sex with him, do any thing that he can think of, and they are powerless to refuse. We learn that Jessica escaped him after thinking he was dead, but she is still dealing with PTSD from her time with him.
For some reason lately, TV shows have decided that its cool to show women being raped on screen. Its the reason I stopped watching Game of Thrones (Spoilers – not only was Sansa raped, she was also underage?? Fuck you Game of Thrones). Jessica Jones, despite being a show that directly discusses rape, calls it rape, does not excuse rape, and has a rapist as the villain, does not at any point show it on screen and I am so insanely proud and thankful for that. Instead of being something titillating, it is shown to be the monstrous and despicable act that it is.
The show does a great job of destroying all of the excuses that men make to excuse rape as well. Kilgrave says to Jessica that she wanted it, Jessica tells him to fuck off. Kilgrave tells her he loves her, she responds with “you’ve never loved anything in your life”. Kilgrave pleads his case with “I had an awful childhood”, the show refuses to acknowledge that as an excuse. As Jake from Brooklyn Nine Nine would say:
Jessica herself is a great character. She’s a bitch but she loves her friends in her own way. She is also a great example of how to write a not-so-nice woman without making her awful. Too often The Bitch is pitted against other women, but Jessica has excellent relationships with women, further proving that this show is smarted than many others airing right now. Her friendship with Trish (Rachel Taylor) is one of the most powerful and fulfilling relationships in the show. Her tentative friendship with Claire (a familiar face from Daredevil!) is great, and her protectiveness of fellow Kilgrave victim Hope both give Jessica the warmth that her character needs.
As this is only the first season I’m really excited to see where they are going to take it from here. From a comics perspective, there are some great references, and a lot of familiar faces (Hello Luke Cage!!), and the positive reception the show has had, along with a Luke Cage spin off currently in production makes me hopeful that a Heroes for Hire TV show will be in the near future, and let me tell you, I’m going to watch the shit out of that when it arrives.