long time ago I wrote an article comparing the many different media projects of both Marvel and DC (characters, comics, TV programs, movies, etc.), and thanks almost entirely to DC's Paul Dini/Bruce Timm animated universe (that lasted from the original Batman: The Animated Series through till Justice League: Unlimited) I declared DC as the undisputed champion of television. But now, almost 10 years later, with Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil, Agent Carter, Spectacular Spider-Man, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and now Jessica Jones under its belt, Marvel has come back from behind and totally beaten DC (who really only has the new Flash series as anything special on TV since Arrow tanked in quality after season 2, and Supergirl is just lightweight lameness).
Anyway, my point is that Marvel is at the top of their game now, both in feature films and TV series. Jessica Jones (which just recently debuted on Netflix) is without a doubt another beautiful masterpiece sculpted by the house that Stan Lee says he built. It's dark, it's twisted, it's violent as hell, it's sexy, it's scary, and it's fun as fuck to watch. I mean, a "superhero detective" show where the detective in question actually does a great job detecting and deducing shit, as well as being able to punch holes in walls and jump 12 stories straight up in the air? I'm just mad that nobody's thought of doing this before now. Imagine a Batman TV series where Batman actually does some world-class detecting, as well as punching in the Penguin's face every so often! Fuck that shitty Gotham series, I want that Batman show, and I want it now!
Anyway, Jessica Jones is all about super-powered, super-alcoholic Jessica Jones. Now before you jump on the writers for making the main female character an alky just to make her "edgy" or whatever, know that she turned to the bottle for a very understandable reason: A year before, she was essentially kidnapped and held prisoner for months and months by the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant as "The Purple Man," aka Kilgrave) — a psychopath with the power of mind control who can make anybody do anything that he wants them to, including sleep with him or slit their own throats if they piss him off. JJ only just barely escaped from Kilgrave's sick clutches after a bus accident seemed to take the bad guy out, but this left her as a mess of a human being. The aftermath of being Kilgrave's toy made Jessica decide to move out of her friend Patricia Walker's (the future Hellcat) swanky New York City penthouse, and it made her give up on her short stint as a superhero (which is what led her to Kilgrave's attention in the first place).
Soon a client with a missing daughter comes to Jessica's new (and shitty) Alias Investigations office, begging for her help, which she gives freely (for a price), until she finds out who it is that the missing girl is missing with (I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count). Shit goes South very quickly for Jess as her past comes back to haunt her in the worst fucking way possible, and old nightmares are brought back to life to torture her over and over again.
That's all I want to tell you about Jessica Jones' plot. The whole 13-episode series is one very long story with nary a filler ep to be found. Now, I really, really liked the Daredevil TV series that debuted earlier this year, but unlike Daredevil (which, while very enjoyable, had a very linear storyline), Jessica Jones had so much happening over the course of its short run, and so many twists and bends that it felt wonderfully and refreshingly thrilling not knowing what the hell was going to happen next. One thing always led to the next, which constantly moved the plot forward, leading to multiple shocking cliffhangers where the stakes are steadily and tremendously upped, or horrible shit that you never thought they'd touch with a 20-foot pole occurs and makes you question just who is safe in this tale, and who, if anybody, will make it out alive.
As for the characters, Jessica Jones (the girl who played Jesse Pinkman's drug addict girlfriend in Breaking Bad) is a bad ass who always has a bottle in her fist, but who finds that no matter how messed up she gets, she just can't run or super-jump far enough away to leave her soiled history behind her. And that's one of the greatest things about this series: problems aren't ignored or forgotten just because other issues are solved. For example (SPOILERS), when Jessica finds the girl who disappeared and brings her back to her parents, the girl is still mind-controlled by Kilgrave, and before Jessica can stop her, the girl does something horrible which lands her in jail... But then (unlike most TV series), the girl is NEVER FORGOTTEN. Her problem is now Jessica's problem, and Jess just can't let injustices like this go. Also, there's the drinking issues that Jessica has. She's ALWAYS sipping from one bottle or another. People know she's fucked up that way, and they want to help her, but her alcoholism isn't just magically wiped away due to finding a problem to focus on, or by stopping Kilgrave. Her alky-ness isn't treated like just a lovable foible that people chuckle at; Jessica is a full-blown alcoholic, and they show you all the major complications and issues that that entails. She's not perfect. In fact, Jessica is one of the most fucked-up heroes I've ever seen. And I love the show for it.
And I feel that I must be clear here in telling you that Jessica Jones is 100% a detective thriller. It is not an action/adventure series, it is not a superhero comedy, nor is it a special FX extravaganza. It is a tense and gripping crime drama. Yeah, Jessica and her friend Luke Cage have super powers, but there's no super shitty CGI effects showing them flying or drop kicking any poorly-rendered cars anywhere... But I didn't care. In fact, as I was watching JJ, I kept thinking "This has a MUCH bigger budget than Daredevil." But then when it was over, I realized they never had any real "money shots" of super powers being used (other than people getting thrown through walls). They covered their lack of budget up very well. I think it was the huge NY crowd scenes and fancy apartments that we always saw. They did a fantastic job with sets and setting, though Hell's Kitchen didn't feel half as seedy and dangerous as it did in Matt Murdock's own series.
And also, as I understand it, Jessica Jones is a pretty spot on case study on being a victim of abuse. Yeah, the whole "how do you avoid being a victim to a man who can control you with a spoken sentence" is a plot device (used very creepily well, I might add), but the real world allegory of what it's like to be a victim to somebody who abuses you, but you just can't seem to break free from was obvious, and in fact made the story that much more terrifying.
Once again, this show is dark. You do not want to put your 11 year-old in front of the tube and let them watch this series because they liked Captain Amurica or Iron Man. The amount of blood, guts, sex, profanity, and mental abuse in Jessica Jones would easily make it rated "R" if the MPAA ever got the chance to rate it.
As an end note, I just want to say that this is as feminist a show as I have ever seen, without having it SHOVED IN YOUR FACE that it's pushing a woman's agenda... And it isn't. Not really. It's just telling the story of a woman and her friends/associates, who happen to all be women, and more importantly, it's telling this story WELL. Hell, it wasn't until after it was over and I had some time to think about it that I even came to the not-so-secret revelation that the show only had men in co-starring roles, and they were mostly beefcake eye candy. Oh, and the main bad guy is a man who literally CONTROLS people, forcing them to do stuff, and occasionally raping the women he's dominating (including our lead heroine, JJ). It is not really hiding its subtext at all, but once again, it's done well, and therefore both Tumblrinas and regular normal folk should be able to enjoy Jessica Jones for what it is: an intense, dark, entertaining, detective series with a tough female lead character who has some pretty fucking heavy issues.
Oh, and Luke Cage is fucking awesome in this thing, and I'm dying to see his own "Sweet Christmassy" series next year!
Hmmmmm... You know that game that you play when you're a kid? You know the one, after you and your buddies read too many comic books at a sleepover, and you start discussing which mutant powers you'd like to have and which would be the most badass. Well, I am so sorry that I always went with "mind control" as my power of choice.
After watching Jessica Jones on Netflix I feel fucking dirty for ever even thinking that. Oh my god... They made the idea of mind control to be sooooo fucking disturbing and dirty and disgusting that I wanted to take a shower every time Tennant Doctor Who showed up on the screen with that creepy little limey smirk on his face. What he does with his powers, well, it's so much worse than what I thought I'd do with those powers when I was 12 or 13. I was like "I'd have people give me money!" and "I'd have girls show me their titties!"... Which alone is kind of morally wrong and pervy. I see that in hindsight. But at least I never wanted to do anything as far-out vile as Doctor Tennant here. He is truly the most deranged supervillain I think I've ever seen portrayed in anything ever.
Finally! A female superhero who isn't just a male superhero with boobs! Jessica Jones is smart and powerful and fun to hang out with, but she's 100% a woman, and has a great BFF in Patricia, whom she talks to about all her problems all the time... Just like a real chick.
Okay, I'm off my high horse (I was just so excited that they finally got a female hero right!), and I'll talk about the show itself now.
So Jessica Jones has powers, but no responsibility. She tried being a hero once, and it didn't work out too well for her. After being used and abused by a really bad bad-guy called Kilgrave, Jess barely got away from him, and has started her own P.I. agency in order to support her drinking habit (which, judging by some of the whiskey and bourbon bottles she has lying around, appears to be expensive).
Then the asshole who used her comes back to town, and now he's utterly infatuated with our Jessica. And soon Jessica finds that trusting anybody around her is impossible, due to the mind-controlling whammy that her ex-captor can put on anybody that he talks to. Seriously, how do you fight mind controlling assholes? If that power really existed, we'd all be screwed.
Jessica Jones is a very serious show dealing with horrible serious stuff such as PTSD, mental abuse, and alcohol abuse, and it's framed with super-powered people punching people out, jumping really high, or controlling people with their minds. Oh, and did I mention the sex? Loooooooooots of sex. Regular sex, super-powered sex, bed-breaking sex, you name it.
So, since this is a Marvel show, they have tons of references to, and characters from, lots of other Marvel series, like the nurse from Daredevil, Hellcat, and Nuke. And of course it has lots taken straight from Jessica's actual comic book, like her dealings with a rude client in the opening episode, and her tossing him through her office window. And there's all the quips that reference the Hulk and Captain America, and Jessica's take on the "slutty stripper" name and costume that her bestie, Trish, suggests she use while fighting crime. The costume and name being what she actually used for a time in the comics universe. This show simply has something for everybody... As long as you're over 17 and aren't prone to nightmares after watching horrifically violent images.