Today, I did something I never thought I would (or even could) do. A couple of hours after I got home from my night shift job, I sat down and turned on Netflix with the intention of bingeing a whole season – yep, all 13 hours, give or take – of Jessica Jones. I feel like I’ve been on the best damn adventure ride in the whole world! Let’s go again!
The Netflix original series Jessica Jones is based on characters from the Alias comics. Having never read them, I did a quick background check of the wiki page for the character Jessica Jones so that I could at least make sense of this experience a little better. This girl has been all over the Marvel universe! But even if you have never read the comic, you will still get sucked right in to this series.
The opening credits sequence has a beautiful, artsy filter that I just love – I want those cells for art pieces on my walls. The music score is well suited, and almost becomes a character itself as the episodes continue on. The storyline is gritty, and all too real thanks to the themes in play – abuse, rape, shame, and domestic violence.
This is not a series for young kids. There are no costumes, and no flashy sparkle effects laid over “superhuman” acts of strength or fight scenes. This doesn’t look like a typical superhero story. But believe me when I say it is very much a superhero story. The fight scenes look like any other fight scene – until you realize that the punches are hitting harder, the bodies are flying further, and the blocks are being pushed backward, hard. Heroes don’t always look the way you might expect.
The main characters are well-developed. Social issues like drug addiction, alcoholism, and dysfunctional families (among other things) are dealt with… Lesbian power couple Jeri Hogarth and her wife Wendy, a physician, are going through a not so nice divorce. A gay couple also suffers at the whims of Killgrave, the series’ villian. The cast is racially diverse, as well.
The thing I like about all of this is that it feels so normal to me – it feels very inclusive, and I wasn’t distracted from the story by looking for little nitpicky flaws like I always do. If there were any, I didn’t notice them and I didn’t bother to dig because the story was just that engaging. Everything seemed to fit well, all for the purpose of telling this fantastic tale.
There were quite a few gratuitous sex scenes in the first few episodes, and at least one more further on in a later episode. I really think they were unecessary – they didn’t really do much in the way of furthering the plot or serving any real purpose other than to remind us that this isn’t a typical Marvel video offering. And in fact, it’s not typical. It’s dark, it’s gritty… it’s noir. Krysten Ritter is Jessica Jones, the “hard-drinking, short-fused mess.” Once a superhero known as Jewel, she now suffers from PTSD after an encounter with Killgrave left her with major guilt and anger issues. At first, she reminded me of Eliza Dushku and her character Faith, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. But by the sixth episode, she’s developed the character into something far beyond what you’d typically expect of the genre, and I was so sucked in I stopped seeing the comparisons.
Jessica is just trying to make a living – and escape her past. She is the sole owner/proprietor of Alias Investigations. Jessica takes case referrals from high-powered attorney Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Matrix), who is cheating on her wife with her secretary, and is in the midst of what could be a nasty divorce. She follows the clients around covertly and documents evidence for the divorce cases that Jeri handles.
Luke Cage (Mike Colter) was a heavily anticipated character. He, too, is trying to just make a living as a bar owner and get beyond all the grief in his past. He gets wrapped up in Jessica, and they find that they have a lot more in common beyond the barfights and bedroom. There is a deeper, more personal connection than that.
David Tennant (Dr. Who) is Killgrave, the psycho still stalking Jessica a year after he was pronounced dead. Tennant revels in the character’s evil… now, see, that’s something I can’t even discuss without it being a major spoiler, other than to say that Tennant is terrifyingly creepy. There comes a point where more of his back story is revealed, and it will make you feel something other than horror for him. And that will change again… well, let’s just say that it was like a roller coaster ride – there were the relatively level parts with the small ups and downs, and twists and turns… and then there was the corkscrew you couldn’t see coming because it was way down at the bottom of the high camel-back, which came after the loop in the track. That metaphor…may have gotten away from me.
This series was difficult for me to watch at times, being a violent rape survivor. But watch it I did, and this whole series had me on the edge of my seat – jumping at shadows and yelling at the screen because just when it seemed that things were going to be fine for a few minutes and I thought I could catch my breath, something awful and horrible happened to keep the tension up. I highly recommend this series if you are a fan of noir, mystery, psychological thrillers, and just plain brawler shows – but be careful if you’ve got a past like mine. When I say this series gets real, it gets real.
All episodes of Jessica Jones are available on Netflix right now.