Marvel’s Jessica Jones was released November 20 on Netflix, and I’m going to assume that, by now, everyone has either binge watched the entire series, or has at least made a dent in it.
There has been a significant amount of commentary around Jessica Jones. It’s been lauded for its clear pass of the Bechdel test; and for its frank, unapologetic portrayal of rape and its after effects.
In addition to this, the first clear cut lesbian character within the Marvel Universe – Jeri Hogarth – is masterfully played by Carrie-Anne Moss, and seamlessly rolls into the plot without any audience coddling dialogue explaining her sexual orientation.
Thanks to a well-timed bout of the flu, I finally got the chance to sit on my ass for an entire weekend and absorb this amazing series and throw down a few reasons on why you should watch it.
Before we leap in, just a quick PSA: Jessica Jones is not light watching.
If you have plans for a bit of ‘Netflix and chill’, do not watch JJ – I repeat DO NOT WATCH JJ.
However, here's five reasons you should when you're otherwise unoccupied...
1. Jeri Hogarth
This is a queer blog. I'm definitely playing favourites.
The character of Jeri Hogarth is a much needed step within the Marvel Universe, and within the entertainment industry in general.
Hogarth's backstory is as old as time itself: high powered attorney has fling with secretary, spouse finds out, said spouse decides to drag said attorney through fire and brimstone level divorce proceedings.
In the 21st century, the gender or sexual orientation of this character should not be set. This could be played by absolutely anyone.
The choice of the show-runners to go with a woman, who happens to be a lesbian, makes me extremely happy from a representation point of view, but it also highlights that there is a lot of room in the TV and Film industry to start casting more women in roles originally intended to be played by men. The idea that particular character types are meant for particular genders based on their job / moral code is clearly outdated and fails to be in-line with the world we live in.
In an industry that seems to strive for gritty realism these days, its about time we started to move away from gender typecasting where possible. The success of recasting the gender of Jeri Hogarth - who was originally written as a man named 'Jeryn' back in 1976 - shows that there are plenty of roles out there which could be seamlessly filled by women.
2. Trish "Patsy" Walker
Trish was the character that had the potential to become the "annoying sidekick".
I was fully expecting her to float around, make condescending comments about Jessica's alcohol habits, and then eventually get herself in the shit and require rescuing whilst I secretly hoped she'd get killed so she would STOP MAKING FUCKING STUPID DECISIONS.
However, the performance of Rachael Taylor and the sheer brilliance of the writers turned "Patsy" into beautifully nuanced character who supports Jessica in a way that I feel is representative of friendship amongst women who have a large number of shared experiences, and a lot of personal history together.
Trish is an extremely successful, fiercely independent woman who has suffered a history of parental abuse. This has led her to train herself in various forms of self-defense so she won't be at the mercy of anyone again.
Trish more than holds her own over the course of the first season, and I must say that ole' Pats is possibly my favourite character so far.
3. It's Unapologetic Approach to Rape
In a world often plagued with victim blaming and rape apology, it is refreshing to see a show from a major franchise deal with the after effects of rape in such an authentic manner.
The show leaves absolutely zero wriggle room for rape to be perceived as anything but vicious sexual assault. It cleverly intertwines offender based rhetoric into the dialogue, which is quickly destroyed by the female characters of the show, reminding the offender and the audience that regardless of his personal perception of the act, or the audiences' passing moment of sympathy, what occurred was rape and its impacts are very real for the victims including physical and psychological trauma, PTSD, and unwanted pregnancy.
4. Jessica Jones
Following that, it's time to address the title character.
Jessica Jones is described as a "hard-drinking, short-fused, mess of a woman" which I guess sums up the outer perception of the character quite well.
She also happens to be a woman who has experienced extreme levels of physical, psychological and sexual abuse off screen.
The series starts at a point some time after the occurrence of the trauma, and deals directly with the after effects on the title character. Jessica suffers from PTSD, and her personal aversion to psychiatrists has led her to the bottle as a means to chase away the demons.
Jessica's PTSD is an intrinsic part of her character, something which can disarm and disadvantage her at any time. The show refuses to shy away from it, which has led to an accurate representation of the struggles faced by PTSD sufferers everyday.
Overall, Jessica Jones is a powerful character for women as she is in complete control of her own actions and choices. She is complex and so utterly utterly human, that you can both love her and want to slap her in the same moment, which makes for the perfect protagonist to lead the series.
5. It's Abso-fucking-lutely Bechdel Certified
With the majority of screen time dedicated to the title character, you'll be happy to know that the love story takes a comfortable place a little to the left of centre, and conversations between the women leads in the show are very rarely, if ever, about their relationships.
It's extremely refreshing to watch an ensemble cast, led by women, talk like real women. I mean, I'm not saying I sit around gabbing with gals about murderous mind controlling psychopaths, but you get my drift - the love lives' of the characters are not the centrifugal force behind the plot.
The women of this show are layered human beings. They're amazing, flawed, sometimes stupid, sometimes brilliant and always real.
Jessica Jones is no way a perfect show, it suffers from a few pacing issues which tends to be a result of the Netflix model, and I still can't see what Trish saw in Simpson, but overall you can't deny that Melissa Rosenberg's adaptation is a huge step forward in programming.
Whether you're a Marvel fan or not, Jessica Jones is a much-watch before the close of 2015.