Jessica Jones: A Spoiler-Free Review
Marvel is one of those companies that has done some pretty amazing things in entertainment lately. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has created an entire, self-contained world with continuing storylines from one movie to another, bringing Hollywood super talent together and working together to create something unique in film, television, and now video on demand. The on demand portion started with “Daredevil,” which was critically acclaimed, and now we have “Jessica Jones” on Netflix and it is something else entirely.
Thirteen episodes was the perfect length to tell this story; the origins of a very troubled hero. This would have been a perfect show to start using trigger warnings before each episode, but that is something we still have to wait for. “Jessica Jones” is full of triggers: sexual assault, alcohol and drug abuse, stalking, child abuse, torture, and suicide. If you haven’t watched it, or know nothing about the story of Jessica Jones, this will be the only warning you get. While “Jessica Jones” is full of triggers, there is a lot of healing that goes on as well and, like all healing, it takes time; thirteen episodes to complete in this case.
The story is perhaps one of the best-told Marvel stories to date. It’s an origin of not just a strong female character, but a complete one, an unapologetic one. Jessica is a woman who struggles with friends, family, alcoholism, and post traumatic stress disorder. The story of Jessica Jones, even if you remove her super powers, is one that many people will be familiar with. It is exceedingly well written and doesn’t glamorize or exploit the the abuse and assaults for shock or ratings values. Episode to episode, you watch as everything ties together. Jessica succeeds and fails as she deals with her abilities, her traumas, and her relationships. 10/10
The cast is full of top tier talent as well. Krysten Ritter was a perfect casting choice for Jessica Jones. She was completely convincing and shows off an entire range of character acting in this role. Rachael Taylor (who most people will remember from her stint on “Grey’s Anatomy” or the short lived “Charlie’s Angels” reboot) was also outstanding as Trish Walker, Jessica’s supportive friend. They have a deep and complicated relationship with each other. We’ve even got Carrie-Anne Moss who absolutely controls every scene that she’s in with her outstanding talent and screen presence. Don’t worry, there are some outstanding male roles too. David Tennant may never be the same for Whovians again as he is a little too convincing as the mind-controlling sociopath Kilgrave, and watching Eka Darville’s on screen transformation was astounding. Everyone from minor roles to the main cast delivered in every episode, no one took a scene off, and no one tried to take over the scene. The acting and directing was just perfection. 10/10
“Jessica Jones” continues to excel when it comes to having a diverse cast. The show is led by primarily women; the show passes the Bechdel-Wallace test every single episode. We have multiple people of color (those of you who know anything of the comics know the role Luke Cage plays in Jessica’s life, I won’t spoil it here). Carrie-Anne Moss is a high powered lawyer who also happens to be a lesbian, but at no point is it ever pointed out. It just is, like it’s a normal thing. Oh wait, it is. So we have awesome women written as full and complete characters, interacting with each other in real ways rather than what we are used to seeing (women competing with each other, fighting, and bickering with each other). Instead, we get women supporting each other, having real relationships with each other, calling out men when they are being asses instead of supportive. This show is all sorts of amazing. Also, the inclusivity doesn’t stop with the cast; “Jessica Jones” was created by a woman, Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote the first episode. In fact, of the thirteen episodes, women wrote five of them and directed five of them, making this one of the most female-friendly shows out there on both sides of the camera. 10/10
This is perhaps one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while and, as good as “Daredevil” was, “Jessica Jones” was better. It wasn’t about the violence, there was still a lot of it in the show. I will say it again there are a whole lot of triggers on the show but it can also be empowering. As you watch Jessica deal with her PTSD, alcoholism, and her powers, you watch her heal, or at least come to terms with, everything she endured with Kilgrave. The way the show deals with these very serious issues is what really makes this show throttle up the awesomeness. Every triggering issue in the show is handled with respect and care. The traumas that Jessica and others experience at the hands of Kilgrave are either implied and talked about, but are never really shown. We get complete characters who feel real and relatable. The trigger warnings may not make the show watchable for everyone, but it is possibly the best Marvel property released to date and something that I can’t recommend enough. 10/10
I hope that the Hollywood establishment will use this as a litmus test as to whether or not they should ever make female superhero shows or movies because, if they do, I see a great deal more powerful women coming our way very soon. We may get Kamala Khan in the mix at some point since she is also a hero in Hell’s Kitchen and that would be amazing.