Disclaimer: I do not read comics or care about super hero movies or shows in general, and had never heard of Jessica Jones before this show.
Jessica Jones is another brilliant Netflix original. It’s a dark, exciting, interesting show about a private investigator with a painful past, and a sociopath who can control minds.
But–it’s actually about a woman who’s parents were killed in a car crash when she was young, who grew up in a foster home, who has never been close to anyone but her foster sister in her whole life, and constantly alienates herself from anyone she meets. And a man who holds onto a grudge from his childhood like it’s a life preserver and uses people like objects, living in a delusional world where they want him to do what he’s doing to them and where they like or even love him.
It’s a show about people, not powers. About characters, not costumes.
In fact, there are no costumes in the show. No ridiculous, forced reasoning for why the character would wear a costume, no awkward, forced ‘gee what should my super name be?’ scene, except a humorous one where Jessica is rolling her eyes at the entire idea. Even the villain, ‘Kilgrave’ gets mocked for his pseudonym. (Come on, kill grave? Why not murdercorpse?)
And guess what? In a shocking and refreshing twist, Jessica is not a piece of flesh, but a human woman who wears clothing that human women wear! There is not one scene with cleavage or leg. There is no forced excuses for her to get into a swimsuit or dress up in some lingerie to go ‘undercover’ or whatever, and again, no ridiculous costume (which is always 10 times more ridiculous for woman heroes).
And when I call Jessica a ‘hero’, I suppose I should just say protagonist. Because, although she can be said to be heroic, she is not a ‘hero’ in the way the word has come to mean in these blockbuster comic movies. She is not trying to save the world. She is trying to save herself, and the few people she cares about. In fact, that the world is not at stake is another refreshing difference in this show. The story stays focused on the characters and their immediate surroundings. It’s not ‘if I don’t stop Kilgrave, he’ll destroy the world!’ it’s ‘If I don’t stop Kilgrave, he’ll torture and kill me and my friends.’ Which is way more identifiable and scary.
I can just imagine, if this was made into one of those movies we see in the theaters every six months these days, Kilgrave would be waltzing into the White house, and making the president get on his knees, then the camera would pan out dramatically while he laughs a villain’s laugh. Instead we get a brilliant, human performance–a disturbing, damaged human, yes, but not a caricature. Not a mustache twirling cliche.
David Tennant as the villain in this is amazing. I was worried he would be too likable, but no, he is not in the least. He is a creepy, yet believable person. Because the way he talks and the things he says are all too familiar, from rapists, rape apologists, and other abusers and manipulators in our society today. But beneath it all you can see that he is a frightened child throwing a fit when he can’t have what he wants, and such power in the hands of a person like that, is nothing short of terrifying.
There is so much good about this show, I just can’t recommend it enough. It is an adult show, so don’t let the Marvel logo fool you. It is all adult themes, and there is some gruesome violence. But the story too is adult. In that it is developed and mature and thoughtful and deep and interesting and poignant and all the things so many of these flash-bang comic movies and shows are not.