The much-anticipated series Marvel’s Jessica Jones recently debuted on Netflix, with 13 episodes, ready for binge-watching. The series was created by Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter, The OC, Party of Five) and is based on the character from Marvel’s Alias comics. Jessica Jones is an exciting series that you don’t want to miss.
She’s No Superhero
Jessica Jones is a gritty drama with a dark, anti-hero protagonist. Jessica, played by Krysten Ritter, is a hard-drinking private investigator who suffers from PTSD. She acts detached, is occasionally cruel, and makes pretty poor decisions at times, but we can’t help but root for her. She’s tried the hero game (there’s even reference to a costume), but it wasn’t for her. She wants to protect innocent people from the villain Kilgrave, but her actions are driven by a desire for revenge for what he’s done to her.
Comics for Grown-ups
The drama isn’t your typical comic-based series, not only because Jessica isn’t a cape-wearing superhero, but because of its mature content. There’s the sex and violence, sure, but the unflinching storytelling of Jessica Jones is reflective of Alias. The comic Alias was the first from Marvel’s adult-oriented imprint Max. It uses a realistic approach to tell a dark story about a traumatized woman dealing with what’s happened to her. Jessica Jones captures this edgy tone by telling a compelling story about realistic characters who happen to have superpowers.
Other Comic Characters
As well as the protagonist Jessica and villain Kilgrave, Jessica Jones introduces us to several other Marvel characters. Some are mere mentions, but others have important roles in this series. Our favorite is the unexpected way that Patsy Walker gets brought up. Some of the comic characters we meet in Jessica Jones are strictly part of the Alias world, while others will become a part of future series.
David Tennant as Kilgrave
The immensely talented David Tennant stars as villain Kilgrave. Doctor Who fans will enjoy seeing the Tenth Doctor in this very different role. His character is a terrifying but complex villain. His performance elicits sympathy for Kilgrave on occasion, then makes the audience pay for it. He is fantastic to watch. Tennant can play both charming and sinister, even at the same time, making him a perfect actor to play a sociopath. Once you see Tennant in this role, you can’t imagine who else could have played Kilgrave.
As well as Ritter and Tennant, Jessica Jones has some strong actors that help make the series so compelling. Rachel Taylor (Crisis, 666 Park Avenue) plays Jessica’s best friend Trish. Carrie-Ann Moss (The Matrix, Vegas) is ruthless lawyer Jeri. Eka Darville (Empire, The Originals) plays good-hearted neighbor Malcolm. Mike Colter (The Good Wife, The Following) plays a man haunted by his own past.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Jessica Jones takes place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s set post-Battle of New York, where everyone is aware of alien invaders and “gifted” individuals. There are mentions of the “big green guy” and the “flag waver,” and even a specific storyline that comes out of the aftermath of the Battle of New York. Jessica Jones is the second Marvel series by Netflix, with Daredevil being the first. Other series scheduled to follow include Marvel’s Luke Cage, Marvel’s Iron Fist, and Marvel’s the Defenders.
Jessica Jones is a superhero-turned-private investigator, though most of her investigating focuses on Kilgrave. The dark and gritty feeling of the show is part of its film noir vibe. The gorgeous cinematography of the series gives it that New York feel. The opening credits on Jessica Jones are beautifully done and have that same feel of film noir. In 2005–2006, the star of Jessica Jones, Krysten Ritter, was a series regular on the modern female film noir dramedy Veronica Mars. Both shows deal with surviving abuse and trauma, though Jessica Jones is placed within a much more dangerous world.
Though Jessica Jones doesn’t have that same sarcastic, fast-paced dialogue filled with cultural references as Veronica Mars did, it’s still funny. It’s just funny in a darker, death’s-around-every-corner way.
Each episode stands on its own, but Jessica Jones is a great series to watch on a binge. The writers seem to have found a natural pace for the narrative. The storytelling is complex, emotional, and suspenseful. Jessica doesn’t always make good choices, but the audience is given enough information that we can understand why. Being the anti-hero, Jessica is flawed and more realistic than most comic book heroes, which is part of what makes the series so interesting.
Jessica Jones shows us something we don’t often see in television—people overcoming emotional and behavioral challenges. Jessica herself is an example of an extremely damaged person who finds a way to move through her trauma. A survivor of abuse finds empowerment through physical training, a widower learns to cope with his grief, and people come together to be part of a support group. Sometimes it’s not done great, such as a very flawed presentation of recovery from addiction, and in some cases redemption is impossible. Despite the graphic nature of the narrative, Jessica Jones is surprisingly full of stories of growth and change.
If you’ve watched Marvel’s Jessica Jones, tell us what you thought of the series in the comments.