2015 Stuff I Liked: Jessica Jones

jessica_jones

O.k., this is actually an unplanned offshoot from my ‘2015 Stuff I Liked: TV‘ post.  I made the mistake of typing the Jessica Jones entry less than 2 hours after I finished the season, which meant that I had far more to say about it than I probably would have if I had finished it 6 months ago.  But you know what, this is a good show, so I’ve got a lot to say about it.  Here it is y’all:

Whaaaaat, TWO Marvel shows on my faves list??  This feels a little odd, because, I mean look, I don’t read comic books, but I do see basically all the Marvel movies.  I think the only ones I don’t see are the stupid Spiderman reboots (so pointless), but I watch and enjoy the others.  They just aren’t necessarily at the very top of my favoritest things ever.  Why is that, you ask?  Well, a lot of it has to do with the characters – Let’s be honest, it’s a real sausage fest.  It’s not that I don’t love the dudes, but as a chick myself, I find it depressing how few of my people – the ladies – get to be up there in the limelight on screen.  Who do *I* get to live vicariously through when I watch?  The gals do exist in the comic book movies of course, but even in this day and age, they too often feel like tokens.  You get the 5 dudes and the 1 token “kickass chick”, but she’s a supporting character only.  She doesn’t get her own movie or anything, obviously.  Hah, let’s not get crazy here.  Girls are too busy painting their nails and shopping to care about this type of thing, amiright?

Enter Jessica Jones.  I was excited to finally see a Marvel series with a female lead, but I was also a teeny bit apprehensive going into this, because my most recent memory of Krysten Ritter was her grating character on Breaking Bad.  The only other thing I’d ever seen her in was Gilmore Girls, and that was forever ago.  Thankfully, quite early on, I realized that my fears were entirely unfounded.  Krysten Ritter is fantastic here and she couldn’t be more perfect to play this character (I say this with the caveat that I only know the TV version of the character).

The show is quite different than Daredevil, which is more of a traditional action series.  It’s not as evenly paced as DD, it’s a bit slower in general, and it doesn’t put quite as much focus on its action sequences, though there are several fun ones in the season.  At many points, it often feel less like your typical comic book movie/TV series and more like a classic private eye story … or like film noir.  Again I can only assume the comic book had a similar feel, since I haven’t read it (please forgive me).

But here’s why I loved it:

1) It’s shockingly funny.  Krysten Ritter’s Jessica is as sarcastically witty as you’d expect, but the supporting characters provide a healthy dose of comic relief here too, particularly her neighbors – the creepy twins and poor Malcolm.  I LOLed watching this show, a lot, particularly in certain episodes.

2) There is a hot steamy ‘ship in the show between Jess and the lovely-slash-unbreakable Luke Cage, but the show makes it quite clear throughout that its central and most important ship is the bestie/sisterhood of Jess and Trish.  What a great story there was between these two, with a ton of backstory material to mine from.  From Jessica’s car accident with her family (a classic superhero backstory), to Trish’s crazy stage mom taking in a teenage Jess, to Trish’s “child actor” career (It’s Patsy!), to Jessica and Trish becoming unlikely allies instead of the typical Cinderella/evil step-sister story, this is really a ship for the ages.  It was probably my favorite element of the show.

Jess_Trish

3) The show tells a very interesting story about how men and women relate to each other, and in particular, how that can go completely awry.  The most obvious example of this is Kilgrave, of course – At one point in one of the last few eps, I said to my husband, “If that psycho UCSB killer from last year were a comic book villain, he would totally be Kilgrave.”  Elliot Rodger was his name – He could not figure out how to relate to women or to get them to like him, so his solution to this was to try to try to murder all of them.  I remember him vividly because my sister, who graduated from UCSB, quite literally lived on his street.  And she would have been one of his prime targets if she hadn’t graduated 3 years before this happened (praise Rang Dipkin).  Terrifying.

But what if instead of killing all women, this Elliot Rodger psycho could simply control them into giving him what he wanted, instead?  It would be a dream come true for him.  Combine his personality with the power to mind control people, and you’ve got Kilgrave.  That is Kilgrave’s entire M.O., especially when it comes to Jessica.  The subject of rape is a prominent theme in the show, in the sense that Kilgrave rapes his victims by mind-controlling them into sexual relationships with him (at least, that’s my understanding of the situation).  He physically raped both Jessica and Hope, and he also mentally violates his other victims by making them do whatever he wants them to (which often also involves a violent physical element as well).

On that note, one of my fave TV critics, Mo Ryan, tweeted the following theory about the show that made me laugh but also blew my mind a little:

Holy shit!!  Kilgrave is Bill Cosby!  Like, the shit Bill Cosby did to his victims is nearly exactly the same.  It’s … extremely unnerving and horrific when you think about it.

And then there’s the tumultuous relationship between Trish and Simpson.  We’re introduced to Simpson by him attempting to violently murder Trish, while under the control of Kilgrave.  Once he snaps out of it, he feels not only violated but racked with guilt about what he did.  He does everything in his power to apologize to Trish and make it up to her, and this leads to a romantic relationship.

All goes well for a while, and for a good portion of the season, Simpson is a strong ally in the fight against Kilgrave.  However, eventually Simpson goes off the deep end with his obsession over killing Kilgrave once and for all, which goes against Jess’s plan to prove his abilities to the world in order to exonerate Hope.  Once that happens, all hell breaks loose.  Simpson is ex-special forces to begin with, but add to that a PCP-like experimental drug he’s taking to enhance his strength and stamina, and Trish is a sitting duck.  She may know Krav Maga, but she’s only ever used it in practice sessions, so she’s totally outmatched in this fight.

There’s a scene where Simpson shows up to Trish’s apartment after he’s gone batshit crazy and hopped up on drugs, and you really feel how vulnerable and cornered Trish is in this scene … it’s a very unnerving feeling.  She stands her ground and tells him in no uncertain terms to get the eff out of there, but at the same time, everyone is well aware that she is completely at Simpson’s mercy as to the ultimate outcome of the situation.  As I watched, it hit home for me that this is representative of any woman in an abusive relationship.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Trish could easily take many guys out there given her Krav Maga skills, but Simpson has her way outgunned in size, skill, and experience, not to mention that jacked-up drug he’s on to give him super strength.  And many women out there in the real world who are in abusive relationships are in the same position, being outgunned in size and strength.

Jessica is the representation of what it would be like to not only overcome these physical differences between the sexes, but to actually gain the advantage in strength and physical power.  Trish, on the other hand, is the representation of reality, and what real women have to deal with-slash-worry about out there in the real world.

So yeah, Jessica Jones is not only a fun comic book TV show, but it has some interesting commentary about the state of our society.  It’s not perfect – I’ve seen a couple critics say that it was 2 or 3 eps too long for the amount of story they were trying to tell, and they’re probably right about that.  Its showrunner also apparently wrote for Dexter for several seasons (not the really shitty ones luckily), and I totally noticed a couple Dexter-esque annoyance moments along the way, before I even knew about this connection.  But these are minor quibbles.  Out of all the Marvel movies and TV shows out there, I found it to be probably the smartest and most relatable for me personally.  But it’s NOT a “chick show”!!  My husband was really into it too, and he’s picky.  You should check it out.  And also check out the other shows on my 2015 Faves list.

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