My Current Obsession: Marvel’s Jessica Jones

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I promised myself I’d wait until I was at least three episodes into “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” before blogging, but I’m just too eager to talk about it. Netflix has been on a roll with me lately in terms of giving me shows that are oddly captivating to watch, from “Marvel’s Daredevil” to “House of Cards” and now this. And, much like with “Daredevil,” I’ve found myself caught up in the dark vibe the show’s going for.

The basic gist is that the show revolves around the titular Jessica Jones, a PI who happens to have superhuman strength. While the show has made the point to give slim pickings of her background, I do know that her comic iteration was a super-heroine who became a PI thanks to a traumatic event involving a man named Kilgrave aka the Purple Man. This show loosely follows that continuity in that Jessica is haunted by her memory of Kilgrave and his ability to control people via speech. He’s also firmly established as the clear baddie of the season and is only shown sporadically in the shadows (and with purple lighting as a nod to his namesake) as early as the first episode to really build up how terrifying he is. I’m looking forward to more of him, as while I liked David Tennant’s role as the 10th Doctor on “Doctor Who,” I’m really intrigued to see how he handles playing a villain.

Having only watched two episodes so far (I COULD marathon, but I wanna make all 13 episodes last for a while), I can say that I didn’t find the first episode captured my attention quite as hard as “Daredevil” did. However, I’ve always been into female-driven shows (“Xena: Warrior Princess”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Alias”, etc.) and I already feel “Jessica Jones” is one of the best to come out in recent memory. Krysten Ritter plays Jessica as a gritty, brazen PI with just the right dose of snark and humor when it calls for it. Sure, those character traits have been seen before, but the great thing is that she doesn’t feel written as “just a female character.” She feels like a character period, with the complexities and flaws to match. Even fellow “superhero” Luke Cage gets time to shine before his own series gets thrown onto Netflix, and he’s easily my favorite supporting character so far.

There are a couple other things I also enjoy. The intro, for one, has nice visuals and low-key music, really capturing the sort of noir-esque style the show has. To add to that, Jessica also has narration when she needs to direct her thoughts, whether important/trivial or serious/funny, to the audience. I remember “Daredevil” did that for about three episodes before dropping it altogether and it felt like a necessary change just because it didn’t add much to the story. Here, though, it fits the style and tone of the show and I hope it stays throughout the season and possible future seasons.

If I had to complain about anything at this early stage of the show, it’s the lack of strong supporting characters. Now, as you can obviously tell, I really liked “Daredevil” and that includes the dynamics it set up between Daredevil, his foes, and his allies. And while I like that Jessica has a darker outlook from being essentially tainted by Kilgrave’s influence, it kinda hurts her case to not have a close social network. Sure, characters like Luke Cage, her lawyer “friend”/confident Jeri, and her apparently best friend Trish pop up here and there, but because she prefers to keep people safe by keeping her distance, it doesn’t give them as much screen-time to develop. Granted, that could easily change as I watch the rest of the season, but it’s been tough to get used to.

From my very early impressions of the show, it’s easily one I’d recommend even if you AREN’T following the films/shows from the Marvel universe. This kind of set-up allows for a show that’s more detective drama  than superhero action. If you’re looking for something with more emphasis on dramatic storytelling than comic book-style fight scenes (though they occasionally pop up), then give this show a watch. Heck, if you’re looking for something with an interesting female lead, I argue this show may just be what you’ve been waiting for. Thirteen episodes is not a big ask for some quality entertainment, but be aware that it’s easily the darkest/grittiest work Marvel’s put out so far.

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