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Erin Watches: Jessica Jones (and Don’t Trust The B—–) November 22, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches, Meta.
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First time I’ve gone ahead and binge-watched a Netflix show on the weekend it dropped.

Jessica Jones is good, often in terrifying ways. If you have any squicks around mind control…particularly around mind-controlling sociopathic villains who order people to maim and/or kill themselves…there is a lot of that.

Never read any of the comics she appears in, so I did some backstory review on Wikipedia. Was entertained to find that our heroine’s non-powered BFF has a long history as a superhero…but before that, her character originated in a line of teen romantic-comedy comics. They did the equivalent of lifting someone from Archie and importing her into the Avengers.

(Last night I had this dream in which Wikipedia said the character of Jessica Jones had also appeared in the Precure series. For some reason, she was Cure Lemonade. IDEK.)

Notable good things:

  • Our heroine doesn’t keep her powers secret from her friends and loved ones For Their Protection. On the contrary: her BFF has known about them almost since she got them, and when it comes to her love interest, there’s a great mutual “wait, you have super-strength too?” realization.
  • The BFF, Trish, doesn’t have powers in this continuity (yet?), but has taken some serious self-defense training. One of her earliest scenes involves flipping someone over her shoulder and slamming them to the mat.
  • Jessica and Trish are extremely shippable. (There are a lot of female characters with whom Jessica is extremely shippable.)
  • Lots of fun references to comicverse. At some point Trish comes up with a mockup of comic!Jessica’s first costume, excited about having her become a Proper Superhero. (Jessica is having none of it.)
  • About the non-fun parts: the bad things are gritty and intense. (And bloody enough that I looked away for some scenes. Fortunately not so visceral that I couldn’t finish the thing.) The initial plot-hook case is heartrending, the first-episode twist horrifying.
  • Good, evocative depictions of a character having PTSD.
  • Good, unambiguous depiction of an abuser being evil. There’s a point when Kilgore basically tries to self-woobify, talking about how he was raised by abusive parents who didn’t teach him right from wrong, and how traumatic and confusing it is to have uncontrollable persuasion powers behind everything you say. And, you know, there’s a lot of potential angsty story about a well-meaning character with those issues who’s desperately trying to redeem himself…but Kilgore is so clearly not that guy.
  • Contrast that one arc in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. where two characters are each claiming to be the put-upon victim of the other…and they’re both good liars, the only flashbacks you get include the narrator’s bias, for a long time you don’t have enough objective information to know for sure what’s going on. It’s realistic, it isn’t bad storytelling or anything, but there’s a specific frustration in not knowing how much you as a viewer are being manipulated.
  • …also, there’s a certain anxiety when you don’t know if the narrative is trying to get you to sympathize with a character in order to bait-and-switch you, or if the show is going to reveal something terrible and still expect you to find the character sympathetic.
  • So, yeah, no ambiguity here. Kilgore is an unrepentant rapey sociopath with an entitlement complex the size of Mars. The viewer knows it. The show knows it. You can sit back and cheer on Jessica in her quest to make sure all of New York figures it out.

Footnote: if you liked the actress, don’t miss her last starring series (also Netflixable), Don’t Trust The B—– in Apt 23.

Lighthearted comedy, also Netflixable, also with hella f/f vibes. This is the one where I couldn’t bring myself to watch the last episode for months, because I didn’t want it to be over. (Finally took the plunge a week or so ago. Aaaaugh, June and Chloe, just kiss already.)


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