A spoiler free (ish) overview of the Netflix show, Jessica Jones and why she is such an important character in the MCU, as well as on a personal level for me.
Jessica Jones, PI plus very reluctant and occasional superhero is hired to find a pretty NYU student who’s vanished, but it turns out to be so much more than just a simple missing persons case. Is Jones’ past about to come back to haunt her?
Yes, I was one of those people lucky enough to be able to binge watch Jessica Jones in its entirety on Friday. Temporary unemployment has its perks sometimes!
I’ll try not to give too much away in terms of spoilers as I attempt to give an overview of all 13 episodes, but I can’t guarantee that none will slip out. I’ll do my best to keep them to a minimum though. I’m also going to explain why Jessica Jones is such an important character for people like me and no, I don’t mean because I’m female. The comics and the show address some personal issues that I’m going to share to get my point across about how important Jess is as a character. If you haven’t already watched Jessica Jones and also haven’t read any of the Alias series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, then I can highly recommend reading that before hand.
After Daredevil was such a success, I was hoping for more of the same with Jessica Jones and Netflix didn’t let me down. I’m a massive fan of the Alias graphic novels and the show really delivers. Gritty, dark and real, Jessica Jones was an absolute delight from beginning to end. It’s a Marvel story that we haven’t seen before and it’s a really good insight into the mind of a ‘retired’ superhero and all the issues that entails. It could make tough viewing for some people, but if you like your Marvel characters flawed and kickass then Jessica Jones is a show you need to watch.
Krysten Ritter totally nails it as Jessica, bringing a real grittiness to the role. I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t go with the red hair from the Alias comics, but the black hair works too. I like that Jessica is small and seemingly harmless because it makes her bursts of super strength all the more jarring yet fun to watch. Ritter captures all of Jones’ mannerisms and facial expressions perfectly and I really warmed to her about 5 minutes into the first episode.
First and foremost, Jessica Jones has more women on the crew than any other TV show currently out there and it shows. Anyone who tells me that women can’t be in charge of such a massive show need to go and watch Jessica Jones. There is just something about the show that is so different to if it had been male-led with both cast and crew. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Perhaps it’s the casting, or the direction and writing. Perhaps it’s the chemistry between all the characters, Or perhaps it’s because such sensitive issues were dealt with so sympathetically without being woolly or over the top.
Let’s talk about the chemistry between the characters for a moment. The casting for this show is brilliant. There are well fleshed out characters and be it of a sexual or platonic nature, Jessica Jones really delivers. Her friendship with Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) is lovely to watch. Two best friends, each with their own issues but who both very clearly love each other. Through flashbacks, you learn how they became friends and why they look out for each other. It’s a believable friendship from the off and doesn’t feel forced or trivial. They genuinely care for each other and it’s my favourite relationship in the show. They each draw strength from each other, each lacking something that the other has, which is why they work so well. And if rumours are true, then Trish is going to turn out to be Hellcat if Jessica Jones gets another series.
The relationship between Jessica and Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is great too. You can really feel the chemistry between the two, which is always a good thing in a TV show. If there’s no chemistry then there is no believable relationship which is boring for the viewer. It’s made me really excited for the Luke Cage series and if it carries on in the same style and feel as Jessica Jones then we’re in for a real treat. And of course, it means that hopefully we’ll see Jessica pop up in that too!
David Tennant as the villain, Kilgrave is exquisite. He is absolutely vile, creepy beyond belief and he plays it so well. He actually made my skin crawl, something that I never thought Tennant could make happen. As a villain, Kilgrave is actually scary as his power is to emit a virus to control his victims. They have no control over what they do, despite their minds being fully aware of what they’re doing whilst they do it, a truly terrifying concept and one that Tennant executes very convincingly. I will warn you though that if you find certain things triggering like an abusive relationship, rape and PTSD then please bear this in mind if you’re going to watch this show. You may really love Tennant as the Doctor, but this role is completely the opposite of that so be warned.
Lastly, I would like to give a shout out to the diversity of this show. There are more POC characters than I’ve seen in a long time in a show this big. There is also gay representation in the form of shark-like lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss) and her PA Pam (Susie Abromeit) and her soon-to-be ex-wife Wendy (Robin Weigert). It’s really good to see this kind of diversity in such a big show. It’s a small step, but it’s in the right direction.
Now let me get personal about why Jessica Jones is so important to me. I suffer with PTSD because of my ex-husband. For all intents and purposes, I went through the same thing as Jessica did: emotional manipulation and abuse, as well as rape. And yes, I just said the R-word in a review of a Marvel TV show. I’m not ashamed, I’m not weak and I’m certainly not afraid, not any more. I’m also a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for almost 12 years now. These reasons are why Jessica Jones is such an important character for me. She struggles with what happened to her and it shows. She doesn’t hide it, it’s right there for all to see. And she doesn’t apologise for it either, which she shouldn’t have to. Kilgrave put her through hell and she’s still trying to deal with that, in the only ways she knows how, one of which is at the bottom of a bottle. Having such a visceral character going through very similar things to me means I can identify with her, something that can be so hard to find in comics. Yeah, Tony Stark has PTSD, but I’m not a billionaire with a support network of the Avengers, and nor is Captain America my best friend. Jess doesn’t have many people she can turn to in her life to lean on that she hasn’t managed to push away, so she deals with it herself, much like I have. It’s so important to have that kind of representation in comics as well as in TV shows and I’m grateful to Netflix for not being afraid to show it in all it’s twisted and heartbreaking ugliness.
Overall, Jessica Jones is a great show. Her various issues are handled with care and sensitivity whilst remaining very real and very obvious. Jessica is by no means the perfect superhero, far from it. The show has a few things that could have been done better, but then doesn’t every show? The fact that it isn’t perfect makes it so much better. Its imperfections and flaws makes it that much easier for us to find something that we can identify with.
Jessica Jones is the perfect asshole with issues bigger than Tony Stark’s ego and I love her for it.
Rating: 4.5 /5