Saturday, 16 January 2016

Thoughts on Jessica Jones

*CW: abuse, rape

Jessica Jones, the most recent Marvel TV series, is about a woman living in Hell's Kitchen (yes, the same setting as Daredevil), working as a Private Investigator and trying to get to grips with her PTSD.

It's a pretty straightfoward premise for a show, and it starts off in a way you might expect it to, with Jessica getting a new case to investigate; things begin to get complicated when she notices parallels between the disappearance of the girl she's investigating, and events in her own past.
This brings Jessica's ex-abuser, and the shows main villain, Killgrave back into the picture. What makes Jessica Jones more than just another great Marvel show is its portrayal of abuse and PTSD. We don't just see her fighting the bad guy and saving people; we see her dealing with flashbacks of what Kilgrave did to her, using alcohol to cope, isolating herself.
Killgrave's power is mind control - he just has to say what he wants someone to do out loud, and they are compelled to do it. That's why Killgrave is such a terrifying character; he doesn't attack with weapons or physical strength, his attack is psychological. He is Marvel's version of an everyday abuser. He uses the same techniques that other abusive men use (manipulation, gaslighting), only at a slightly elevated level.

I like that the show didn't take the route is so easily could have, which would have been to use Jessica's flashbacks as a way to show scenes of graphic abuse and be all "look how dark we are, give us credibility!". We actually see very little of Jessica's flashbacks, only enough to know that she has them, and they're traumatic. The writing of the show allows us to piece together what she's been through without showing us much at all.

Jessica Jones not only looks at how rape/abuse effect the individual, but also at how society treats the crime as a whole. Jeri Hogarth, and the general public's, cynicism and disbelief of what Killgrave is capable of is represenetetive of how victim's and rape accusations are treated.

There's also the guilt that Jessica feels for what she did whilst under Killgrave's control. She had no control over what happened, yet she still blames herself, feels there was something she should have done differently. Again, this is also common in victims of sexual assault.

I thought the flashback's to Killgrave's past were handled really well; as a viewer, you find yourself in the difficult position of sympathising with him at times, then realising that you yourself have been lied to.
I can't end this without mentioning the shows side characters, of course. As the show went on, I found myself really liking Jessica's adoptive sister, Trish Jones. At first, I thought she was going to be the typical, dissapproving sibling who has all of her shit together and only really only exists to show us just how chaotic the main characters life is. Thankfully, this wasn't the case here; Trish is intelligent, fiercley loyal to Jessica, with her own backstory; a former child star who now has her own radio show, she grew up with an abusive mother and has also found herself a victim of Killgrave, who tries to have her killed. We see her trying to quietly reclaim her life and body. I hope we get to see more of her in the future.

Overall, I loved Jessica Jones. It's such a cliche to say this when talking about comic book adaptations, but this is so much more than another superhero show. There's so much going on besides "superpowers", I could easily write a short novels worth of words about how I feel about it! I'd recommend it to anyone, regardless of if you're a Marvel fan.

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