Note: This is a spoiler-FREE review.
I love Jessica Jones.
I’m not referring to only the TV show or the character, I mean both. Marvel and Netflix have proven to be a great team in bringing edgy, grounded superhero stories to television.
Earlier this year, Netflix premiered Marvel’s Daredevil, a violent, gritty take on the famous blind combative lawyer/hero. Set in the same world comes Jessica Jones, but this show is no follow-up to Daredevil. With the exception of one cameo and some hints about the Avengers, Jessica Jones stands on its own as a compelling work of neo noir television. We’ve been waiting for our superheroine–now not only do we have one, but one who is flawed, interesting, badass, and just every ounce of the female hero we deserve.
Jessica is a jaded private investigator with a past that comes back to haunt her in the form of the show’s villain, Kilgrave (David Tennant). Jessica also happens to have super strength, which she doesn’t hide from most people who annoy her. All she has is her best friend and foster sister, Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor), and Luke Cage (Mike Colter), a mysterious bartender who Jessica is somehow linked (and very attracted) to.
Over the past week, I’ve read more than my fair share of think-pieces on Jessica Jones and the array of topics it covers (rape culture, PTSD, domestic abuse, violence, addiction, and suicide). It’s pretty unprecedented for a show (especially a Marvel show) to unabashedly and properly incorporate so many dark realities without overwhelming the characters or viewers. For one thing, it stays away from the procedural format. For another, the plot unravels slowly; we learn more about Jessica through situations triggering flashbacks.
One of the strongest and most resonating portrayals on the show is female friendship. Besides passing the Bechdel test, Jessica and Trish’s friendship is the heart of the show. It’s the one that pulls Jessica through all the shit that Kilgrave, Marvel’s best villain yet, puts her through both now and then.
Speaking of Kilgrave, David Tennant is menacing, calculating and disturbing as the show’s villain. He’s a nightmare, and people aren’t kidding when they call him Marvel’s best villain. If there’s one thing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been missing, it’s a truly great villain. Not to dismiss Loki, but the character was overused and at a point, were we ever worried that the Avengers wouldn’t beat his latest trick? Daredevil introduced Wilson Fisk (some of Vincent D’Onofrio’s best work ever), a violent and ruthless villain that made the show all the more compelling. Yet, Jessica Jones gives us Kilgrave, who takes it to a whole new level. He fits into the noir aesthetic by being a larger-than-life character with simple desires and dangerous abilities.
As great as the show’s antagonist and very intriguing supporting characters are, Krysten Ritter is the standout here, giving Jessica her trademark unapologetic attitude. She carries Jessica Jones even at the character’s best and worst moments. A victim of abuse, this is her journey into better defining her identity, finding that right balance between hero and her own person. It’s an incredible first season, some of Marvel’s best work so far (with the exception of some badly filmed action scenes that are hard to ignore). At the end, you’ll love Jessica Jones just as much as we all do.
Season 1 Rating: 9/10
Marvel’s Jessica Jones is now streaming its first season on Netflix.