Much anticipated Marvel show, Jessica Jones premiered tonight on Netflix at midnight Pacific and already Twitter is abuzz with an overwhelmingly positive response.
We’re still feeling our way into how we handle Netflix releases in a way that doesn’t spoil things for viewers, who may be watching later or not binge watching. As an aside I think this is excellent practice for a social media world learning to think of itself as a global community. But if you plan to watch Marvel’s second Hell’s Kitchen series and haven’t started yet, dodging spoilers is going to be a chore in the foreseeable future. If, however, you are on the fence whether to watch yet another superhero TV series, here are the bare bones of what made episode 1 “AKA Ladies Night”, shine.
Why you should watch Jessica Jones.
She’s badass. She’s empowering. She’s gross and she’s so much more worth your time than any superficial, dolled up airhead character any soap, suped up or not, you’d care to mention.
The most important story aspect of Jessica Jones, which it takes from its comic book origins, is its mature themes and content. I would not expect much mincing of words or skirting of painful or embarrassing topics from this series. Jessica Jones is not a Disney Princess. There is nothing sweet or endearing about her. She doesn’t come with a magazine ready, airbrushed face and her vocabulary …well don’t expect words like ‘demure’ or ‘blushing’ to be heavily featured in any descriptions.
For Whedon fans I’d say, if Buffy and Spike had had a daughter who was raised by Angel and Faith, she’d probably remind you of Jessica Jones. I would be very surprised if Joss Whedon doesn’t love this series to death.
She’s a down-on-her-luck, straight-by-the-playbook noir detective complete with bad personal habits, taciturn personality and consumer attitude toward dating. Some may claim that portrays her as weak. Of course, there are people out there who claim Whedon isn’t a feminist or that global warming is a hoax.
AKA Ladies Night didn’t just feel empowering to me, it felt like I’d found a long-lost sister. She’s a loner. She’s a slob. She doesn’t like people. She has the social graces of a rhino with a sore tooth. She doesn’t “have any goddamn friends”. Which I suppose says a lot about me and my life. I doubt I’m unique in this though, that it’s nice to see someone like me on the screen for once.
Watch the writing on this one. Watch the corners of the dialogue. The little bits and pieces in the periphery. The subtlety huddling against a trash bin with a bottle of booze where you might miss it. This is good, New Yorker style writing and I love, love, love that it’s included in the MCU cornucopia of story styles.
Krysten Ritter is going to make grouchy the new sexy this year, mark my words. And speaking of sexy, Mike Coulter as Luke Cage? So hot none of us will stand a chance, and I don’t only mean his gorgeous face or chest either!
Carrie-Ann Moss is her usual serene, long limbs and chill. And if you didn’t have a crush on her before ‘AKA Ladies Night‘ well… you may yet discover you weren’t as straight as you thought you were. (Should I maybe put that in the “why you shouldn’t watch” category? Nah!)
And David Tennant as one of the most if not the most creepy, unsavory, scary bad guys in the Marvel universe? Bring it on!
Why should you not watch Jessica Jones?
Jessica Jones season one is among other things, a story about rape. In a variety of its ugly aspects. And I think we can expect that it won’t be prettied up or diluted. It’s a tough topic, it’s a painful topic. It’s something we don’t like to talk about which means it’s something we should be talking about. It’s brave story to tell because in pearl-clutching North-America it is the thing to censor any topic that is even mildly offensive or might in any way be labeled with a trigger warning.
TV, in the past few years, has become a much deeper canvas for such themes. Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad etc. are shows that forge into areas we’re told we can’t talk about because trigger warnings. We have to talk about these things. The whole point of fiction is to test sore ideas like those in a safe environment. What, you thought the sole point of fiction was entertainment? What is entertainment except a way to ease your brain’s need to get better, smarter or braver? We tell stories to consider what the other caveman did right or wrong and why. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are grim stories, sometimes a little of both. But when you sit back from a tale and think ‘that was boring’, it means it didn’t move you and you learned nothing.
– Ahem – anyway.
There’s nothing wrong with steering clear of themes that mess you up. And if you can’t handle stories about rape you should not watch Jessica Jones.
…That being said, I don’t want to see you mouthing off about how superhero movies and TV shouldn’t be so dark because ‘omg think of the kids’. There are available
plastic-themed, 4th-grade dialogue, happy-fun-time family-friendly, teen-oriented superhero TV available. You know who you are. Enjoy it to your heart’s content with my blessing.
This one, however? Jessica Jones? It’s dark. It’s a little smelly. It’s out of T.P. and it’s mine.
If you would like to know more about the comic tie-ins and various lore for the JJ series and the Marvel Universe I suggest visiting DenofGeek’s episode 1 write-up which is also pretty spoiler-free and has some interesting tidbits about the characters and their origins: