Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

TV Review: Jessica Jones

There are three types of people who will read this.

The first are friends, colleagues and acquaintances who’ll see it on my twitter (@mrfreeman1984) or facebook page and will be bored, or need something to take their minds off life, something mind numbing and tedious, maybe with poor grammar, spelling and linguisterics* to read – who’ll stumble through to paragraph two  and then move on. They’ll be indifferent about this.

The second are people with Netflix who’ve seen the advert and haven’t quite decided whether to watch this or not – will it be another Daredevil or Arrow… Hit or miss?** You should read on.

Finally there’s the Marvel geeks, those who can reel off hours of “what really happened”, who’ll bore you to tears with fan theory and how the series hasn’t remained true to the original vision. Guess what, no-one but other Marvel geeks care. Also I don’t care whether something is associated with Marvel or superheroes or whatever. I care if it’s good. Marvel geeks flee now. I’m on episode two and here’s my thoughts.

Jessica Jones is good, possibly very good.

Jessica is a private investigator with a secret, she’s an ex-superhero, who’s great at jumping and has super strength and, possibly (and also possibly not) laser eyes. But that’s not what makes her character interesting. What gives her depth beyond most other superheroes is that she’s not a natural superhero, she has experienced the most horrendous trauma and come out shattered, battle scarred and alone. Think Tony Stark post-first Avengers movie. The difference is that this is smarter, better performed and with an astonishingly good lead performance by Krysten Ritter.

Her performance has vulnerability, a darkness that shows a tortured soul and, importantly, incredibly conflicted. Yet despite this the character has real strength, shows a modern set of values that often don’t resonate on TV, and, refreshingly, strength of character and brains are prioritised over looks and physical prowess or violence.  It’s all played to near perfection. This is an actress with range.

The script is witty and terrifying at the right moments and the pacing feels measured unlike some of its all-action contemporaries. We don’t meet our super villain in episode one, an inspired move to unsettle and set a tone through other’s interactions and feelings towards him as to who he is is. What some series seem to fail to realise is that what connects the audience to characters is the human not the superhuman elements – it’s what connects us to them, makes them relatable. While the superpowers hold that initial interest, to get a series beyond the mental age of a 5 year old boy (and get longevity or my attention past episode one), we need to discover their inner turmoil and that is where Jessica Jones succeeds – don’t miss it.

**but which is which?