After the massive success of Netflix's recent TV show about a Marvel superhero, Daredevil, there was little question if the two big companies would team up again. So when Netflix finally released Jessica Jones in late November last year, comic book fans were eager to see the latest Marvel show.
Hell's Kitchen was given a unique, gritty feel to it by Daredevil, which was repeated in Jessica Jones. What sets these shows apart from the usual Marvel atmosphere is a sense of social realism running throughout. Although neither of the shows technically fall into the genre, the way that certain issues and themes are dealt with give it that gritty, realistic feel.
Everything about the show had a much darker, much colder side to real life, from just walking down the streets to Jessica's PTSD and alcoholism. The show gave a mostly accurate representation of how a lower-class person would live in a rough area like this, and how they might be mentally tuned to that.
Whilst the big blockbuster Marvel films deal with certain issues, they're made for family audiences and therefore can't go too far into mature themes like Jessica Jones does. This show carefully presents delicate subjects such as drug and alcohol abuse, PTSD, sexuality, race and more in a way that doesn't undersell the issues or make them seem unrealistic.
For example, the lesbian characters in the show were just like any other couple in a TV show. It wasn't overstated or outrageously over the top, but a relationship that two people share disregarding their gender. In fact, I'm not sure the word 'lesbian' was used at any point throughout the show because nobody needed to say it.
From episode one through to thirteen I was giving the show my full attention because everything about it was done right. It was interesting to see how Marvel tackled a 'darker' show, considering that we've seen DC do it with Arrow. However, it was undeniable that the show turned out amazing, with an already large following of Marvel fans and newcomers alike.
Part of what made the show so good was the characters. Initially, the characters are good and in-depth, with a good sense of individuality and identity- no two characters were alike. The writers and actors did an amazing job of presenting to us realistic and flawed characters, that to some extent, were quite relatable.
Looking further into the characters, the relationships between them were perfectly balanced so they didn't seem forced nor two dimensional. I especially bought into the relationship between Jessica (Krysten Ritter) and Trish (Rachel Taylor) because right from the first scene it was clear the sort of relationship they had. Just this short conversation between them immediately set the tone to their relationship and by the acting and writing I really got a sense of what the two meant to each other. It's not easy to give off such a strong vibe of relationship through one encounter, but the two actresses just made it seem as though they were really in this awkward sisterhood/friendship. Kudos to that excellent writing and acting. That scene alone could make me watch the entire show.
Character development done right is a gift, character development done wrong (or not done at all) can crush a character. I was just watching the last episode, and it occurred to me how much Jessica had changed since the first episode. The whole show had a different feel to it because the characters had changed to suit the situations they were placed in. They didn't change an unrealistic amount, but Jessica (for example) went from being terrified and running from her problems in the first episode to standing up to Kilgrave and killing him in the last episode. And it happened so subtly through the show that it wasn't noticeable until you step back and look at it. And that's how it's supposed to be.
The story arc for the show itself was just as interesting as the characters. Each turn had me guessing and second-guessing as I tried to predict what was to come. But with each episode, the plot got thicker and thicker until I was desperately trying to unravel it, trying to get to what was set to be an amazing conclusion to a brilliant first season. The plot was interesting too, which can be hard to pull off- everything about it had me wanting to know more, even the smaller sub-plots that weren't as important.
For example, the sub-plot about Malcolm and his drug abuse was, to me, almost as interesting as the main story arc. What was interesting about Malcolm's character was how Marvel flipped the stereotype on its head. It seems as though Malcolm is the regular stereotype of a young black man who's a drug addict- in fact I'm sure a character said that they didn't expect much more of him because of it. However, it turned out that Malcolm was one of the most caring characters on the show and incredibly smart, and was in fact put in his situation by Kilgrave. It was refreshing to see such a common stereotype reversed.
The directors, writers and actors had it pinned and anchored from the first episode. There was no fumbling, no insecurities. The show had it's audience and it's feel from the beginning. Some shows, films or books can take a while to get that put down. I honestly think that a good example of a show like that is The Walking Dead. The first two seasons felt a bit fumbly and if you go back to them after watching the latest season, you might find that it feels like a whole different show. And no, I'm not complaining, I'm a massive fan of The Walking Dead. It can be incredibly hard for a show to pin itself down successfully in the first season. But Jessica Jones had a certain confidence about it, almost as though the show had been around for five or six seasons and had its mojo.
Jessica Jones season two hasn't been confirmed by Netflix or Marvel, but hopefully they will chose to renew the show. Although the show could easily work with just the one season it has, it would be great to have more information on Jessica's background and see how her life has changed after the events of season one.
Either way, it's certain that the buzz surrounding this show won't be dying out any time soon!