series creator: Melissa Rosenberg
show runner: Melissa Rosenberg
starring: Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Carrie-Anne Moss and David Tennant
genre: Action | Comics | Crime | Neo-Noir | Psychological Thriller
premiered on Netflix: November 20, 2015
Marvel's cinematic universe has seemingly limitless potential. All of the films have been more or less commercially successful and critically acclaimed, and they have influenced the film industry in a profound way. Everyone is trying to create or relaunch their own universe, in order to imitate Marvel's model of success. At the same time, being one step ahead of everyone else, Marvel has expanded its universe onto the television medium, and this allowed for the exploration of some darker themes and aspects of human nature. Daredevil was the first and very successful attempt of presenting a grittier, darker and more mature side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and now the collaboration with Netflix has produced another series that dares to walk on some still unexplored paths.
Jessica Jones is a private investigator with a dark past which greatly affects her present. Her super powers allow her to be effective at her work, but not much else, as she is hesitant to use them due to traumatic experiences connected to a man by the name of Kilgrave. A chain of events makes Jessica realize that Kilgrave never left her life, and she, mostly with the help of bartender Luke Cage and her best friend Trish, has to address the problem and come to terms with her past.
It feels appropriate to start with the negatives, as they are few when compared to the positives, and it almost feels wrong to address them, as I really enjoyed this series for a great number of reasons. They are there though, and at times they are in the way, momentarily preventing the viewer from feeling that Jessica Jones is the very enjoyable experience, which it mostly is.
The most major problem is that at times the series briefly feels like it's dragging. This could be addressed in two different ways. Either that the season should have been shorter, or that the script should have been further enriched. Because it actually feels like 10 episodes would be enough for the particular story to be adequately presented. As some episodes give the feeling that they contain 'filler' moments, to cover up some extra time that unexpectedly had to be addressed during the production of the season. In comparison, Daredevil didn't have similar issues with the management of time, and the only excuse that can be made is that Jessica Jones is characterized by themes that hadn't been explored on television until very recently, and in this case, they are the essence of the series.
Besides that problem, not much else can be said regarding negative aspects of Marvel's new creation. Some characters may feel a bit underdeveloped by the time the season ends, but it's almost certain that they will have their chance to shine, as the series will almost definitely get a second season, and if not, we'll still going to see familiar faces in the upcoming Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Defenders series.
And now we come at last to the positives. First of all, it felt like Jessica Jones is one of the most well developed female leads in recent times. She is strong, complex, and she truly feels as if she could be living next door, despite her super powers. Krysten Ritter's performance is impressive, and award worthy, and the role may open doors for her, as it's obvious that the actress is very talented and can deliver. We need more female characters like Jessica Jones, who can be likable despite her flaws, and captivating without being sexualized.
Another performance that can be described as impressive is David Tennant's take on Kilgrave. The obsessive and dangerous character is convincing, as Tennant's expressions were spot on at depicting a troubled individual with too much power in his hands. His interactions with Jessica are always incredibly enjoyable to watch (no matter how disturbed they can be at times), due to both their charisma, and may prove that in a medium such as television the right casting can do wonders to a story, and enhance it in such a way that its flaws can be forgotten by history. The rest of the cast, including Mike Colter, who will get his own series as Luke Cage, do their job well, with Carrie-Anne Moss' performance as Jeri Hogarth standing out as the best supporting part.
The series continues with the dark tone that Netflix's first Marvel series Daredevil set, but it has its own, distinct personality. The feeling of a noir film is in the air, and issues such as psychological trauma in the form of PTSD, sexual violence, manipulation and loss are explored in a truly refreshing and subtle ways, but without losing their gravity. The impact they have on the characters feels real, and long-term it stays with you more than the violence, which is at times very graphic. Human relationships, sexual or not, are also explored in a very realistic way, with the most notable one being the relationship between Trish and Jessica. It is true friendship between two women, addressed in such a successful way that it felt like television broke yet another barrier of the past.
A truly enjoyable series, which addresses difficult issues, with complex and interesting characters, having its own distinct and captivating atmosphere, and is further enhanced by strong performances. Its merits overshadow its flaws, which are few, but at times rise up to remind the viewer they are there. Fortunately, that never lasts for long.