Welcome one, welcome all, to a new feature to this blog which I have decided to call: Weekend Watching. This will be a hopefully regular post uploaded on Saturdays or Sundays (hence the “weekend watching”) where I talk about a film, TV show, or maybe even YouTube channel/video that I’ve particularly enjoyed recently. I’m hoping to spotlight at least one thing to watch each week and hopefully someone at least will get a kick out of these posts – I will, if no one else does!
Last week’s Weekend Watching showcased the strange and inexplicable joy that was Virtue Moir’s ice dancing, and this week we return once more to one of my favourite franchises – Marvel. This time, however, we step away from its many, MANY cinematic offerings and turn to its plethora of television shows, specifically it’s neo-noir superhero drama Jessica Jones.
Jessica Jones tells the story of the show’s eponymous private investigator, played magnificently by Krysten Ritter, who is handily based in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood, a neighbourhood that has its fair share of shady folks and dodgy deals. Dark in cinematography and tone alike, the art design of this show is second to none (that title sequence alone deserves all the awards), and the level of pacing, storytelling, and acting is (in my opinion) so good that you almost forget you’re watching something that is, essentially, about characters with ridiculous superpowers. The strength in this show truly lies in how it uses this fantastical premise in order to depict, and explore, real issues such as psychological abuse, exploitation, sexual assault, consent, and PTSD.
Ritter’s Jessica Jones is dry, sarcastic and expertly portrayed – you know immediately from the way she snarks that this prickly attitude is hiding a very real and very traumatic past that has required her to build emotional barriers for her own, and other’s, safety. One of my favourite characters aside from the protagonist is Rachael Taylor’s Trish Walker, a radio host who is Jessica’s best friend and clearly an integral part of her complicated past. The relationship dynamic between the two of them is one of my favourite parts of the show, as you can see that Jessica sometimes has to be cruel to be kind to Trish to make sure she isn’t ultimately hurt simply because of her proximity to her.
And, a word of caution: if you have ever developed the idea of David Tennant being in any way just cute or adorable, his turn as the show’s villain, Kilgrave, will quickly disavow you of this notion. Subtly sinister and cruelly charismatic, the most horrifying realisation about Kilgrave perhaps is not the extent of his manipulative powers but rather that you get a sense that, even without these, he would be a man who is very capable of compelling men and women alike into doing his own biding.
The show sets up their superhero and supervillain’s face-off in order to highlight very real questions of emotional abuse and manipulation within relationships and the way that an imbalance in power (whether physical or mental) can have terrible consequences for all. The fantastical premise is practically a metaphor, a lens through which Jessica Jones is able to explore extremely pertinent questions of what qualifies as abuse, assault, and coercion, important debates which are rife in today’s media industry and society at large.
Season 2 will be available next week on Netflix worldwide, so you’ve still got time to marathon watch the first season if you haven’t seen it yet – and I would heartily recommend that you do!