10 Things I love about Netflix’s Jessica Jones

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I finally finished Jessica Jones a couple of weeks ago, nearly 3 months after we fired up the first episode. But hey, better late than never right? I was hoping to finish my post on this series before Daredevil season 2 comes out tonight (Friday 3/18), well it comes pretty darn close!

Before I get to my top 10, I have to highlight its fantastic opening credit sequence. The design for series’ opening credits have been impressive from what I’ve seen so far, but this is still one of the best.


It certainly sets the tone of the series, which is inherently dark and bleak. It’s definitely not a feel-good show, but that’s to be expected when the protagonist suffers from PTSD. It’s not perfect and I have to admit it took a while for me to really get into it, but my patience was rewarded and now I’m anticipating season 2!

Here are 10 reasons why Jessica Jones’ series won me over:

1. Slow burn mystery, more of a noir than an action-packed superhero series

Right from the first episode when Jessica is hired to find a missing NYU student, it’s clear this isn’t your typical superhero series. I love noir films which often feature a femme fatale, and this one certainly has that vibe. Creator Melissa Rosenberg (who had written for Dexter as well as the Twilight franchise) said in an interview that she’s influenced by Chinatown and Humprey Bogart films. I love detective stories so the fact that I’m a bit superhero fatigue made this series far more appealing.

2. A psychologically-complex & flawed super heroine

I love that we see our heroine having a regular job and we don’t see her use her abilities right away, so we see her more as a person than a larger-than-life character. She’s NOT one-dimensional, thank goodness, and the show takes its own good time in revealing who she is and what she’s about.

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I like what this writer of BBC Culture said about Jessica: “Finally, we’re getting superheroines with the kinds of flaws common in the last decade’s male superheroes – and anti-heroes. Catwoman and Elektra didn’t seem like real women because they didn’t have complicated, human personalities to go with their sexed-up superpowers. (Catwoman is too meek; Elektra is too angry.) Jessica Jones, on the other hand, is an alcoholic commitment-phobe.” 

“I need to update my resume. Would you put day drinking under experience or special skills?” 

It took me a couple of episodes before I actually warmed up to Jessica, but that actually adds to the appeal in the long run. I didn’t immediately like her because honestly, Jessica likely doesn’t care about being liked or admired and that made me respect her right away and finds her more and more interesting AND relatable as the series went on.

3. A solid, taut script that gets better as the season progressed

The strong, silent type isn’t just for the male protagonists. Miss Jones doesn’t say much but when she does, in the format of voice over or dialog, it’s always laden with sarcasm and somber tone. But that’s part of her charm!

“Pain is always a surprise, I try to avoid land mines, avoid caring, I can even see it coming. But until it hits you, you have no idea what pain is.”

The storyline of the series is complex, just like our heroine, and there’s always more than meets the eye. It’s always tough in any series to maintain audience interest from one episode to the next, but at the end of each episode I’m always intrigued to find out what happens next. It also handles the backstory of key characters (Jessica’s and Kilgrave’s) in an effective manner that it doesn’t bog us down with details by giving us just enough flashback to see why they are the way they are, as well as explains some of the relationships within the series.

4. Intriguing main cast

I actually had never seen Kristen Ritter before, though I know she was a regular cast-member of the hit series Breaking Bad. I have to admit it took a while for me to warm up to her as the heroine, but as I mentioned above, I think that’s intentional. It’s actually a testament to her convincing performance that I wasn’t immediately sympathetic to Jessica, but after about a couple episodes in, I was fully invested in her journey. Ritter is beautiful but in the show she’s made up to be tough, even crude, and she wears the same rugged clothes of denim & black leather jacket the entire season. The fact that she’s vulnerable is part of the appeal. You could even say a broken person after what she’s been through, but that makes her real and relatable in some ways.

JessicaJones_MikeColter

Mike Colter as Luke Cage has quite an instant impact on screen. I mean, look at him. The second the 6’3″ muscled-man with a disarming smile and irresistibly deep voice entered the screen, I was like ‘who’s THAT?’ But Mr Colter is more than just eye candy for the series. Just like Jessica, he’s also got superhuman powers in that he’s practically indestructible. But he’s also got a dark past that’s later revealed to have a connection with Jessica’. He’s got a scorching chemistry with Rytter (but what girl wouldn’t?), which made for some torrid love scenes. I wish he’s on more episodes but I’m thrilled to hear he’s getting his own spin-off series that might actually premiered later this year!

5. An unconventional-but-effective villain

When I first heard that David Tennant was going to be the villain I was a bit skeptical. I mean, it’s not that I didn’t think he’s a good actor, but I just don’t see him as menacing at all. But the show did a nice job building up to the moment we finally saw Kilgrave on screen after we’ve learned the horrendous things he’s done to Jessica and others. He has the unique ability of mind control, enabling him to get victims to do anything he wants, including killing themselves.

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This is the way Rosenberg described Kilgrave in this interview, “What was most important with the villain was very much that he be multi-dimensional, that he not be a mustache-twirling, out-to-rule-the-world [villain]… [the crime] is more personal. It’s a more intimate wrong. I think it’s relatable in an individual way, whereas taking over the world, as well the stakes are incredibly high, it’s perhaps a little harder to connect to.” 

Kilgrave ends up being one of the creepiest Marvel villains ever, a worthy adversary that is evil through and through. Hiring the affable British actor is brilliant as he seems harmless on the outset. He has the appearance of a polite and refined British gent, but his deeds certainly made me shudder in horror. He doesn’t care who he would harm, even children, and he does it in the most nonchalant way. Every time Kilgrave spends time with our heroine, there’s always bone-chilling tension in the air and her absolute contempt strongly radiates from the screen.

6. A strong supporting cast w/ interesting story arc

I love how one character may appear minor initially, almost like a throwaway character if you will, but then later on he/she ends up being integral to the plot. The revelation is clever and smoothly interwoven into our heroine’s journey, so it’s not just tacked on to add interest. Two of my favorite supporting cast are her BFF Trish (Rachael Taylor) and neighbor Malcolm (Eka Darville). Interestingly both are Aussies, but you wouldn’t know it from their perfect American accent.

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Carrie-Anne Moss is pretty interesting as a ruthless attorney with her own issues with her lesbian divorce, and the conflict with her wife culminated into a chilling battle in the ‘1,000 cuts’ episode. Will Simpson (played by yet another Aussie, Wil Traval), a cop who became Trish’s love interest also ends up being a rather sinister character. I’m curious to see what arc he’d have in season 2.

7. A truly gritty and moody atmosphere

People use the term ‘gritty’ so liberally on movies or tv shows, but Jessica Jones truly has that somber, moody atmosphere and the set pieces in New York City looks appropriately dark and dingy look to it, it’s decidedly unglamorous to match our spunky and feisty heroine. It certainly matches her biting wit and sarcasm. But it’s not just in the looks alone, the show is uncompromising in exposing truly dark subjects such as rape, trauma, sexual assault, etc. It’s also pretty violent and bloody, including one seemingly inspired by the Se7en. I had to avert my eyes in quite a few scenes, but I don’t think it’s as violent as Daredevil.

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The series is visually striking, with interesting camera work and spectacular sceneries of NYC. But the visuals never overshadows the narrative, as our eyes are always focused on the characters.

8. Believable relationships that aren’t always rosy

I’m always glad when an on-screen romance is handled well and I think Jessica & Luke Cage is a great example. They have a believable chemistry but right off the bat you know it’s a complicated relationship that will get tested time and time again.

You’re the first person I ever pictured a future with. You’re also the first person I ever shot in the head.

Jessica Jones, you are a hard-drinking, short-fused, mess of a woman, but you are not a piece of shit.

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The theme of friendship is compelling in this series. It’s rare to see the protagonist’s BFF actually has an integral part in the story, she’s not simply a sidekick or the voice of reason, what have you. The friendship between Jessica and Trish feels realistic because they tell things as they are. They disagree and often bicker, but you know deep down they love each other and would risk their lives for each other.

 

9. A superhero film that isn’t concerned w/ heroics & spectacle

You could say that this is a superhero film for grownups given the dark subject matter. I think the fact that Jessica isn’t concerned about doing the heroic thing or saving the world is so refreshing. In fact she has a pretty grim view about people… “Humanity sucks and they don’t deserve saving.” She’s probably right, especially in her line of work as a PI, hired to spy on people doing horrible things. But what makes her a hero is that she does care about people, not the way Superman cares about the concept of ‘justice, truth and the American way’ but people she knows whose lives might be in danger, and she’s willing to put her own lives at risk to protect them. But at the same time, the morality isn’t simply black and white, sometimes the good people do bad things and our heroine herself deal with a lot of guilt and even self-loathing.

10. A killer finale to top off a strong first season

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‘AKA Smile’ is the name of the final episode and it sure is a fitting title. The stakes get higher and higher for Jessica in the last two episodes and she had to do very difficult things to someone she really cares about. There’s also the Daredevil crossover that’s exciting for me as I’m a huge fan of that show as well. But given all the conflicts has been between Jones & Kilgrave, the final episode definitely gives a gratifying climax that’s suspenseful right up until the end. It’s also one of the most action-packed episode that showcase Jessica’s extraordinary abilities.

 


Well, that’s my top 10 review of Jessica Jones. I’d love to hear what YOU think of the series.

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38 thoughts on “10 Things I love about Netflix’s Jessica Jones

  1. I haven’t watch this show yet, maybe this summer after I’m finished with other show I’m currently watching. I was trying to remember where I’ve seen the lead actress and now I know where I’ve seen her when you mentioned she’s in Breaking Bad. I totally forgot she’s in the show, she appeared in only a few episodes, not a regular cast member. Also, I didn’t know Luke Cage was in the show! I remember they’ve been trying to bring that character to the screen for years; at one point Wesley Snipes was attached for the role back in the 90s.

    1. Hi Ted, I have a feeling you might like this one. Ah I thought Krysten was a regular, but yeah she’s good here. I like this Luke Cage character and wish he’d been in more eps but glad he’s getting his own series. Wow, Snipes would’ve been great in the role 20 yrs ago!

  2. I was surprised, even after its slow start, how much I enjoyed this superhero character and premise. So looking forward to another season of watching JJ.

    1. Hi Michael, glad to hear! It was a bit slow going but I’m glad I didn’t give up on it. Wish they’d introduced Kilgrave sooner though.

  3. Brittani

    I thought Jessica Jones got off to a good start, but I thought it got worse as it went on. Jessica is interesting, I like how they brought things like rape to the table with Killgrave’s abilities, but I felt the show tried way too hard to be the “sexy” Marvel show and it got repetitive when Jessica failed to kill Killgrave again and again. Plus, I hated the side story with Trish’s cop boyfriend as he has to be one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen. For every good thing they had, there was 10 more bad things. I wish I could’ve liked it more.

    1. Hmmm, I actually don’t think the show is trying to be sexy. In fact they de-glamorized Ritter quite a bit here. Ahah, Trish’s cop boyfriend isn’t the greatest actor but I thought he’s fine, I mean it isn’t exactly an acting type role. Ah well, I think this was a pretty darn good show, but then again I don’t watch as many tv series as most ppl 🙂

  4. You wrote that it took you some time to warm up to Jessica. I never did. At first I gave the character a pass because of the trauma she’d been through, then we see a flashback episode and find out she’s always been like this. I completely agree with you that it’s a good thing to not have a character pandering to be liked. The only problem with that is to what extent is the character unlikable? This one went beyond not needing to be liked into actively trying to be disliked territory. It hurt my enjoyment of the series. I was FAR more interested in Luke Cage’s story. It’s not a good sign for a show when a supporting character, who’s only really there to set up his own coming Netflix show, is more engaging than the main character.

    Thanks for the reminder that the new season of Daredevil is out. Maybe I’ll start watching that this weekend.

    1. Hi Chip, I hear ya that Jessica seems to be actively trying to be disliked. But strangely enough, I find her curmudgeon attitude kind of endearing. I guess I find it refreshing that we have a protagonist who didn’t really care to be a hero, though I suppose she could be a tad more affable. I do love Luke Cage and I just saw a brief teaser of his show, can’t wait for that!

      Did you end up seeing Daredevil season 2? Boy, I’m only 3 eps in and I absolutely loved it! Can’t wait to watch more later tonight.

        1. Wow you’re much further along than me. I can’t wait to see Elektra but I have a feeling I’d like Punisher more. Jon Bernthal is excellent in the role!

          1. Agree on Bernthal. If you haven’t seen the fourth episode yet he has a soliloquy and just knocks it out of the park. And in general wait until the end of Ep 8. Just saw it. Definitely got a strong reaction from me.

            1. Ok, just finished season 6. Oh man, it just got better and better!! Can’t wait for Frank’s trial, aka the trial of the century! That monologue at the cemetery was quite emotional.

              1. Yes, the cemetery scene was what I was referring to. I’ve finished the season. I didn’t like Elektra’s character through the first arc, but then they went away from that (spoiled rich brat) and she didn’t bother me as much.

                1. Ah glad to hear Elektra’s arc is not all about the ‘spoiled rich brat’ stuff which gets tiresome after even 1 episode. I haven’t made up my mind about her yet, but for sure I LOVE Jon Bernthal’s Punisher!

  5. Wow! What a terrific post. I loved David Tennant in this, and I was surprised at how creepy his villain was. After seeing him go from Doctor Who to Broadchurch to Jessica Jones I am impressed with his versatility as an actor and the charismatic quality he has even when he’s being a psychopath or just kind of an asshole.

    1. Hey thank you for the kind wors! It’s usually the post I put the most effort that don’t get as many comments :\ Yeah Tennant was excellent as he’s such an unexpected casting choice. Oh you’ve seen Broadchurch too? I LOVE season 1 but haven’t got around to seeing season 2 yet. How ’bout you? Did you see season 2 yet?

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    1. Ahah yes I definitely know this isn’t your genre Jordan, but give it a shot man, it’s perhaps the least superhero-y of the bunch and she doesn’t really use her superpowers all that much and it’s not really the focus of the series.

        1. Cool! I’m curious to hear what you think man. Ahah, I’m actually not into anime at all. When I was growing up, I did read a Manga called ‘Candy Candy’ but that was over 20 some years ago 🙂

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  8. Great write up Ruth! I really like the Detective noir vibe that you mentioned. This makes it stand out from a typical comic book/superhero type show. And if I remember, we get to see Jessica’s detective skills at work, eg. how she gets her information, follow leads/clues. I’m really curious to see who will be the villain next season, because David Tennant/Kilgrave will be a hard one to top. I do have a number of nit picks but still a enjoyable season overall.

    1. Thanks Eddie! I can’t believe I dropped the ball on Daredevil season 1, I never did a full review of the first season, just a brief recap a couple of weeks after I finished it. But yeah, I love the detective vibe a lot, and Jessica is an unconventional femme fatale as she’s not cunning or manipulative. Yeah, her detective skills is put to good use on the show, it’s interesting to see Karen sort of follow her footsteps as more of an investigative journalist in Daredevil season 2. Yeah, I’m curious to see who they’d bring as a villain for season 2 but Tennant has set the bar high!

    1. Yay, then my job here is done 🙂 I have a feeling you’ll like this as you enjoy noir, Cindy. And I know you’d appreciate a female-driven series created by a woman 🙂

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  10. Jessica Jones’ first season was a solid first season for any TV show. It was good, though not one of the best things I’ve seen on the small screen. I had my irks with it – I didn’t think Kristen Ritter is a strong enough actress to play Jessica Jones. There was a big lull towards the latter half of the season where things stagnated and the episodes turned into the same thing, one after the other, with Jessica failing to get the person who would eventually lead her on to Kilgrave.

    DareDevil did well to set the scene for ongoing Marvel TV series set in Hell’s Kitchen. A series I have so far preferred.

    1. I felt the same about Ritter initially but in the end I quite like her in the role. I know she’s hard to like, but that’s perhaps the point. I do agree though Daredevil is far better and is instantly absorbing than Jessica Jones. Have you seen season 2 yet Jaina? I’m just 4 eps shy of completing it, I couldn’t stop watching! It’d have taken us less than 2 weeks to complete one season whilst it took us almost 3 months to finish JJ so that’s saying something 😉

      1. Haven’t started the second season yet – got a never ending pile of TV to catch up on and refuse to star something new until that’s done with. House of Cards and Cooked being among them. Really looking forward to it.

        I don’t mind that Jessica’s hard to like. I just found Ritter didn’t have a wide spectrum to her acting abilities. She’s still young and has a lot of room to grow and improve, which I’m sure she will in upcoming seasons.

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