Jessica Jones is a Netflix series that is an adaptation of the Marvel superhero comic book character of the same name, and while I haven't read any of the comics I think they did a fantastic job with bringing the character to life on the small screen and giving justice to her story. Aside from getting to know her character and what her abilities are (super strength and able to jump incredibly high), the first season is mostly about her confronting her traumatic past and facing off with Kilgrave, the abusive mind-controlling psychopath who is obsessed with her. Even when he isn't playing his sadistic mind games, he continues to haunt Jessica since she had escaped his grasp.
One of the things I appreciate about this show is how it handles the subject of abuse, of overcoming the feeling of powerlessness and confronting your abuser. The show is not afraid of using the term rape and demonstrating that mind-control is, indeed, rape. While not shown (thank goodness), it is talked about at length about what Kilgrave forced people to do. He got Hope pregnant while she was underneath his control, when Jessica had been with him in the past he forced her to be romantic with him when she tells him later that she felt nothing for him and didn't want anything that he made her do. The subject matter is mentioned often and repeatedly, and is the main point within the show. It also does a wonderful job in presenting the psychological aftermath, which is very realistic to abuse victims. Jessica spends the entire season trying to prove that Kilgrave is real and that what he did to her, what he did to that poor girl Hope and countless other people, is real. But of course, how do you prove mind control? How do you prove the psychological abuse someone else caused through manipulation? This is something that survivors of rape and abuse have to live with in the real world. This is an all too common occurrence whenever someone of abuse has gone for help only to be rejected because nobody would believe them, or for others to not speak up because they know they wouldn't be believed by authorities, that whoever is abusing them has convinced they that they (the abuser) holds all the power and control, and there's nothing they can do. The use of mind control is the perfect and effective connection to that sense of powerlessness that victims often have. Kilgrave frivolously uses people and moves on like nothing happened, and he believes wholeheartedly that he isn't doing anything wrong, but the people he leaves behind feel violated, broken, and they are the ones left to deal with the aftermath of what happened to them. And it's a harsh reality to what real life abuse victims deal with on a daily basis.
And it's not just with Kilgrave, either. There are other examples in the show that deal with abuse and manipulation of people, from abusive parents to abusive lovers. This show doesn't sugarcoat anything, it doesn't excuse the actions of the abusers. It bluntly states that mind control is abuse and rape, straightforward acknowledging what most media would simply just sweep under the rug. It allows the survivors of the abuse to tell their story, to show them overcoming what has been done to them and take back control of their lives.
Jessica herself suffers from massive PTSD, having nightmares and flashbacks, which she uses alcohol as a coping mechanism. Well, that and deadpan sarcasm.
Which, can I talk about that for a moment? Because Jessica isn't exactly the most likable character at first glance in this universe. She is rude and brash, is incredibly damaged and majorly flawed, unconventional with the way she operates her private investigative business, is a hard drinker, deadpan snarks at people, and is very unapologetic about the way she lives her life. And I absolutely love her for it. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ Usually these kinds of roles are often reserved for men, which we've seen time and again in movies and television where we're subjected to their endless manpain. Women aren't often seen in this light, and when they are they're either considered a "bitch" or are in the Strong Female Character™ category. No, women characters have to have something likable about them, something quirky, or else they cannot connect to the audience. But Jessica is flawed and unapologetic, and I immediately fell in love. Krysten Ritter does a fantastic job in portraying her so wonderfully in that regard, something that will surprise a lot of people because this is completely new to what we're used to seeing her in. There is nothing I love more than actors who pleasantly surprises us with their versatility.
(Also, I want to mimic Jessica's wardrobe so badly; I kinda already do in some aspects, but I want the full ensemble of what she wears. It is my aesthetic.)
I basically binge-watched Jessica Jones and it was the best decision I ever made, because the entire season was incredible. And perhaps it was because I mainlined all the episodes, but they were all so seamlessly done that it makes me appreciate how Netflix does most of their series. There is no room for filler episodes, the story is continuous and everything fits so smoothly. It was like watching an extended episodic movie. I loved the themes and the messages which were incredibly important to tell and I'm happy with the direction they did it in, the filming and cinematography, the little things that made it relatable (having weird non-threatening neighbors, not having your phone charged, no toilet paper, etc.), the noir-esque music throughout the show, especially the main theme, the characters, major to minor (Luke Cage, Trish and Malcolm being my favorites), Krysten Ritter was utter perfection and made me fall in love with Jessica instantly, and David Tennant was creepy as fuck playing the sadistically despicable abusive stalker mind-controlling psychopath, someone who I wanted Jessica to beat the living shit out of repeatedly, over and over again. Like, there is nothing redeemable about him at all, nothing sympathetic about him whatsoever, not even with his tragic childhood history (again, I reiterate: "Cool motive, still murder.") and although he thought himself to be someone who had every right to anything he wanted because of it, the show was right to prove him wrong every single time he tried to play the sympathy card, getting Jessica to call him out on his bullshit every chance she got. I loved how the end played out with Jessica defeating him at his own game, basically her taking control of the situation and it was so beautifully orchestrated. Of course it shows that just because she defeated her abuser, it doesn't mean things will go smoothly from now on. She is still kind of an anti-hero, following her own path, and perhaps someday she'll achieve that particular goal she once tried out before, but for now she has defeated one huge dangerous obstacle in her life. She must move forward the best she can.
And the show did give a nice cliffhanger about what they could be exploring next for a second season, with IGH and how her powers came to be, and why. And I'm hoping that Luke Cage will appear again though, because damn, he fine. He and Jessica also have amazing chemistry and is it wrong for me to fantasize them having a future together? Just let them be happy?
I just, I am in love with this show and I want more of. Netflix is probably the only place where we'll be seeing these female-fronted stories so straightforward like this. If Daredevil and Jessica Jones are becoming successful through this medium, I do hope this becomes the gateway for more Marvel superhero stories that wouldn't make it as a movie franchise, preferably with more women superheroes so we get a chance for their stories to be told.
Jessica Jones is such an amazing character-driven show and I definitely recommend it, however, the content is much darker and the subject matter heavier that it can definitely be triggering for some people. The first season does deal with things like PTSD, abuse and rape. Nothing explicit or exploitative or anything, it is handled with much respect and is quite satisfying seeing what we normally don't see in mainstream media, but it is still the main focus, so proceed with caution.