Jessica Jones: Fabulousness, Mind Control, Feminism

by Tess Adair

On Sunday, a friend texted me: “Should I be watching Jessica Jones? Because the internet says I should.”

 

I had gone over to my phone, which was charging in the corner, to text my mom that she needed to catch up to episode seven because Jessica is confronting Trish’s mother and IT IS HAPPENING and I could not deal with my own hyperventilation over the scene.

 

So I told my friend that I was literally watching it that very moment and I had never been happier.

 

I have been waiting for this moment since Buffy’s last smile, staring into the abyss that was once her hometown--and my favorite place to go every Tuesday night for one hour.

 

(Veronica Mars gave me a similar feeling, albeit marred by a sub-par third and final season. Fortunately, the movie reboot was pretty sweet.)

 

In short, Jessica Jones is my new favorite show.

Jessica Jones is smart, tightly plotted, full of complex and fascinating characters, and, of course, super feminist. The main character is a gritty badass with recurring flashes of PTSD, a bit of a drinking problem, and a terrible bedside manner.

 

Just like Buffy, Jones’s feminism stretches beyond the main character--every secondary female character is fascinating and ass-kicking in their own right. This is especially true for Jessica’s only true love--her best friend, Trish Walker. (Note of interest--Trish also appears to be based on a comic book character, but so far I’m not sure they share more than the name.)

Unlike Jessica, Trish doesn’t have any super powers. Well, unless you count style, wealth, success, and the world’s coolest apartment as superpowers...which I kind of do. Trish was a child star, ordered about by her abusive manager-mom until she escaped her clutches and embarked on a career as a radio talk show host. She has her own issues, though none as severe as Jessica’s.

 

And I gotta say, I like her way of dealing with them--she hires a personal krav maga instructor to beat the crap out of her until she knows how to defend herself adequately. I approve.

 

But the best thing about Trish is that she never fails to be complex and fully realized, and neither does her friendship with Jessica. They grew up together, they protect each other, they love each other--and sometimes they kinda hate each other, too. Friendship.

Best friends best friending the way only a best friend can.

Best friends best friending the way only a best friend can.

This is one of those rare shows that not only showcases a realistic best friendship, but showcases a whole host of varying kinds of realistic relationships and interactions between women (and by “realistic” I do mean “characterized by more than mutual slut-shaming or competitive lady-style showboating.”) How does the show accomplish this feat, which surely must be incredible considering how rarely it happens? Oh, you know--by having more than one female character. Yup, it’s that easy.

No, really, it's been that easy the whole time.

No, really, it's been that easy the whole time.

Of course, it’s not just the ladies on the show who are killing it. The boys are excellent, too. In fact, every character introduced into the show has a fully formed backstory and unique personality--even a few characters who seem insignificant at first glance.

 

Take, for instance, Will Simpson.

I mean, he's not, like... hard  to look at.

I mean, he's not, like...hard to look at.

Simpson starts off as a completely throw-away character: he’s just another innocent civilian turned into a temporary violent goon by Kilgrave’s mind-control. In fact, it’s somewhat unexpected that he even makes it to the end of the episode--Kilgrave orders him to dispatch of himself after he reports that his task is complete.

 

Naturally, Jessica saves him. But then something interesting happens--he doesn’t disappear. Instead, he becomes a brief mirror for Jessica herself: another victim of Kilgrave’s invasion and abuse, struggling to redefine himself but, just like Jessica, refusing any kind of group help. Simpson’s particular problem with coming to terms with what happened to him is that he’s always seen himself as a classic hero-cop, but Kilgrave turned him into a bad guy. He can’t stand knowing that anyone sees him that way, and he certainly can’t stand seeing himself that way.

 

It helps that he has this whole sad-puppy-dog thing going for him. Works for me.

 

You know what else works for me? Motorcycles.

That’s Luke Cage. While Simpson is cute, Luke is...damn. I mean...damn.

Yeah, don't worry, he's getting his own post.

Yeah, don't worry, he's getting his own post.

Luke is Jessica’s love interest, and just like everything else on this show, they get off to a messy start. In fact, Jessica probably never should have gotten involved with him in the first place. But, hey, I absolutely cannot blame her. You can’t argue with that level of hotness. You just can’t.

 

Apart from his beautiful face, Luke also brings a sweet, warm heart to the table--as well as his own bar (heyy free booze.)

 

What was I talking about? Definitely just found a picture of him shirtless. Ahem, anyway.

 

Jessica Jones is fucking sweet. Yeah, that’s what I was talking about.

She knows it, too.

She knows it, too.

The whole show is great. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone just yet--I’ll publish a spoiler-y review in a week or so, when more people have had a chance to see it. But I will say that I think everyone should give it a shot, and that around episode 7, shit gets real.

 

Also, Kilgrave is pretty much the perfect embodiment of the theory that I have about the best villains--that they are all, on some level, in love with the hero. (Okay, sure, depends on if you think someone like Kilgrave is truly capable of love, but that’s a whole different question.)

 

Of course, one thing makes Jessica Jones significantly different from Buffy--Tuesday nights are gone. Jones is a Netflix show, so it dumped the whole season at once. And I loved it, so I consumed it in its entirety in half a week. Gone are the days of carving out a week night for a small piece of your favorite show; now we do it all in a single binge. Television has never felt so much like addiction before. I'm not complaining, mind you. I love the binge.

 

Man. Waiting for season 2 is gonna suck.

Oh yeah, she's a good jumper, too.