TW: Discussions of rape
Do you have a moment to talk about our Angel of Liquor and Light, Jessica Jones?
I can’t believe I haven’t written about this show yet. I spent my entire birthday when it first came out binge-watching the whole season into the wee hours of the morning, then went to work and bullied some of my co-workers to get their shit together and watch it too.
But y’all. This show. This show. If Marvel has the capacity to produce things like this, why are we being forced to sit through things like Age of Ultron? Antman? Another fucking Spiderman movie?
Ultimately, for me, watching this was personally vindicating and cathartic. It wasn’t perfect, but I’m going to go ahead and say I think people were tough on this show, as they are with most media that promises a female/PoC/queer/etc. protagonist, or a story centered around the experience of the aforementioned, because it has to be more than entertaining, it has to be a political statement.
And it’s not all bad, to have a political message or a social agenda, and art is a traditional medium for these types of messages and discussions. But Daredevil wasn’t a perfect show either, and it isn’t getting the same type of discourse as JJ.
So let’s get this out of the way: Jessica Jones has some inconsistencies, both if you are already familiar with the comics, and if you aren’t familiar with them. Her powers aren’t fully explored in a timely manner, and the final few episodes it feels a little inconsistent with what little they gave us earlier. Jessica Jones does not address issues of race in the same way it addresses issues of gender (white womanhood, anyway), much like Agent Carter also fails to address issues of race.
But still, when I first delved into the JJ tumblr tag after finishing the show, I was miffed indeed when I heard complaints about JJ failing compared to Daredevil because there wasn’t enough “on-screen” grit/gore/violence.
Jessica Jones doesn’t rely on shock value depictions of rape and abuse because it makes the conscious choice 1) to center the discourse of that type of abuse on survivors and surviving, and 2) isn’t about to use depictions of that type of violence as a form of entertainment. And if to empathize with Jessica you need to see a pay-by-play of her abuse, I think that’s less a problem with the show and more a problem with you.
That aside, I do think this is actually a great show if you are new to or don’t usually enjoy “superhero” movies because, trust me, Jessica is just as worn out with that type bullshit as you are. It’s a beautiful show to watch, and I think the relationships it shows between Jess and the support system she kind of collects as the show goes on are visceral and heartbreaking and wonderful, too. This type of characterization is probably where the show shines most, and its unapologetic taking on of toxic “romantic” relationships (I won’t go into too many spoilers, but there is a wonderful scene where Kilgrave discusses his feelings and motivations for his actions straight up mirroring them to “the TV,” and one of my favorite scenes where Jessica pulls no punches talking around Kilgrave’s abuse and not accepting his “justification”).
Overall, I’ve been impressed with Marvel’s forays into Netflix, Jessica Jones holding a special, personal place in my heart. I’m super excited now to see Luke Cage’s show after seeing Mike Colter in JJ (and boy, was it nice to see Mike Colter, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN 😉 ).