Jessica Jones Emerges as Netflix’s New Superhero

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photo courtesy of Netflix

Madeline Old, Staff Writer

The titular star of Jessica Jones has no superhero name, because she refuses to be one. Jessica (Krysten Ritter) suffers PTSD, alcoholism, and self-imposed isolation after escaping from her abuser Kilgrave (David Tennant). She does not believe she is a good person, and wants to simply put the past behind her, using her super strength for nothing beyond her work as a private eye. But when Kilgrave resurfaces, obsessed with her and leaving a growing body count in his wake, Jessica and her best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor) have to stop him.

Jessica Jones is very modern in its treatment of sexuality as well as its confrontation of drug abuse, sexual assault, and PTSD, and it has the emotion and diversity to do it well. Every supporting character is well-developed and dynamic, fleshing out this gritty world. Jessica’s neighbors in her cheap apartment building, especially, are wonderfully strange.

Kilgrave is a terrifying villain. Nobody can look at the tenth Doctor the same way again after seeing David Tennant’s performance. He uses his ability to control minds to force people to do his bidding, letting him stay in their houses and giving him everything he wants, and makes them maim or kill themselves if they annoy him. His behavior towards Jessica is darkly reminiscent of Edward Cullen and every other hero who just had to prove how much they loved the object of their affection before she saw the light and ran to them. He constantly tries to manipulate her, telling her every horrible thing he did was her fault, and that what she really wants is to go back to him. “Smile,” a command he constantly repeats, reminds viewers of how his flavor of evil mirrors real-world misogyny. Catcallers in the street tell women to smile.

The mechanics behind any of the characters’ supernatural abilities are never explained, which is fine for a superhero story. It would perhaps be worse if the pseudoscience was explicit. A few plot points, however, rely on the viewer taking seemingly arbitrary things as the story gives them, and without that acceptance, the climax and conclusion do not make sense.

Jessica Jones is not a show to watch with your parents and younger siblings, and not just because of the horrific violence. But if you want action, drama, and emotion, it is definitely worth seeing.