If you haven’t seen Jessica Jones yet, then go ahead. I’ll wait. Most of you have a 4 day weekend and no excuses. Because Jessica Jones is about to turn the world upside-down.
It’s Netflix. It’s Marvel. It’s a super-hero TV show. None of those things are unusual at this point. Jessica is even a spin-off (kinda sorta, if you squint and don’t look directly at it) of the popular and impressive Daredevil.
Daredevil, to be honest, blew my mind. On Netflix you can get away with a lot more that you can on network shows and Daredevil took that as an invitation to go full grit-and-grunge and it was glorious: interesting characters, intricate plot lines, and cool fight scenes.
Not that it was completely devoid of fun moments (avocados always make me giggle now). It was largely about physical confrontation and political undertones and it did everything it was trying to do brilliantly.
But Jessica was something different.
First of all, Jessica Jones is a woman. And it doesn’t matter. I love that so much, you guys. She’s a woman. Who cares? She has super-strength, she’s a P.I., she’s more gritty than girly, she’s a swearing alcoholic who gets in fights, and doesn’t care what you think, and she’s a woman. Jessica is also realistically flawed and wonderfully human, all the while being superhuman. Her best friend is a woman. They talk all the time. And realistically.
So let’s talk diversity. Jessica Jones. The main character is a woman. Her love interest is African-American. Her traitorous neighbor turned awesome ally? Also black. And it doesn’t matter. Jessica’s lawyer is part of a lesbian love triangle. And it doesn’t matter.
And I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. I bring it up because it does matter. But it’s something we don’t often see, yet in Jessica Jones we do. Because it’s real. And it’s not a big deal. It shouldn’t be. It means you can’t say “the girl” or “the black guy” or “the lesbian” when you’re talking about Jessica Jones because there are MORE THAN ONE. You know, LIKE IN REAL LIFE. And that love interest I mentioned, Nick Cage? Getting his own Netflix series.
So with that covered, let’s get into the big bad. One of the really interesting things about Jessica is she has super-strength, which is, like, the ultimate superpower, right? Until you hit the brick wall that is mind control. Enter David Tennant as Kilgrave.
Here’s why that casting is perfect before he says his first line are even steps in front of the camera in that purple suit: David Tennant is famous for being the ultimate healer, the good guy, the Doctor. Sure, he’s played bad guys and bad people, but that’s not what he’s known and loved for. He’s the bloody Doctor. He’s your safety. So when Tennant says to do something, there’s that split second when you think, well, he’s the one saying it. Clearly, that’s the thing to do.
Only Kilgrave almost exclusively tells people to do bad things…and then people do them. That’s his power. I could easily write a whole post about Kilgrave alone, he’s so complex. You may even feel bad for him for a split second, but ultimately he burrows into your mind and under your skin in a most disturbing way.
The show’s about him returning, after Jessica believed he was killed (he was hit by a bus), and he’s coming for her. Because he’s in love with her. She didn’t reciprocate this in the past, so he mind-controlled her, resulting in a whole lot of torture, rape, and murder. And the worst part is he doesn’t get his hands dirty. He makes other people do everything. So the show is about Jessica trying to escape an abusive relationship.
Let that really truly actually sink in for a second. It’s a superhero show about a girl getting out of an abusive relationship. It’s THE plot, so it’s addressed in every episode and it’s handled with respect. We see Jessica broken by the past, but not beyond repair. She has a tremendous amount of spirit, and she doesn’t run away. She’s going to. For a second she realizing what’s coming and she’s gonna get the hell out of dodge. But then she changes her mind. She’s not gonna run away, she’s gonna fight back and mend the broken parts.
And I’m really just scratching the surface here. There’s so much more to say about this show, but I just wanted to jot some ideas down. Because I think this means TV is changing for the better, becoming more inclusive and addressing ideas it’s shied away from in the past. I can’t wait to see how this catches on with other television shows. Until then, I’ll just sit over here and wait for season 2. ‘Cause we, as the world, are a bit of a mess right now. But the world has so much good in it too. It just takes the right people addressing the issues. I’m ready. Let’s go. Let’s be superheroes.