TV

Jessica Jones Season 1 review – It’s not about superheroes

Oh look, it’s that girl who choked to death on her own sick in Breaking Bad. Krysten Ritter stars in a new Netflix series as Marvel’s Jessica Jones – a private investigator with super strength and the ability to jump higher than you can be bothered to crank your neck. If that sounds ridiculous it’s because it is. Although, it’s not half as unbearable as the other superhero/comic book shows out there, like Supergirl or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which I can’t watch without a doctor in case I cringe my way to a stroke. In fact, it’s actually quite impressive; the reason being it’s not really about superheroes.

Not really about superheroes? There’s a line to throw off all the comic book geeks. It is really, but only as much as porn is about plumbers and pizza deliverers: it doesn’t matter who or what they are; what matters is the fucking. Jessica Jones might be set in a world filled with people who can lob you through walls and survive a shotgun blast to the head, but they’re merely there to decorate what is essentially a human story.
It’s actually about manipulation, abuse, and addiction. Yeah, you’re interested now, aren’t you, you weirdo. Jessica is haunted by a traumatic past involving a mind-controller called Kilgrave, who can quite easily be interpreted as the manipulative ex-boyfriend figure. Played by David Tennant, he made her stay with him against her will, like an evil Doctor Who refusing to let his companion out of the TARDIS, while commanding her to spread her legs whenever he sees fit. Bloody hell, Marvel, you’re doing rape now? That’s a considerable shift in tone from the primary colour-clad, computer-generated business you usually spunk at us.

This Kilgrave guy can make anyone do anything he wants by simply speaking a command, which is a pretty terrifying power for a total bastard like him. He uses it to make people commit suicide, throw boiling hot coffee in their own face and stare at a wall ‘forever’. The last of which renders one chap exhausted and soaked in his own piss, which is obviously funny, but I couldn’t help but think that Kilgrave was lacking ambition. If I had mind control I’d be known by the leaders of the world as ‘King Ramrod Twelve Inches’ in a matter of minutes. It’s more his style, however, to go round head-fucking people one-by-one, making them feel violated after they involuntarily eat their own shit.

So using her private eye skills, Jessica tries to track down Kilgrave before he makes everyone in the city a support group-dependent mess. Typically – which is the word I’m going to use so this can’t be interpreted as a spoiler – Jessica builds up an immunity to his powers because she’s the main character and it’s convenient to the story, so fuck you. Apart from that, there’s no satisfying explanation for why he can no longer control her, unless he’s like an antibiotic that loses its effect after continual use.

While Kilgrave could be considered a metaphorical representation of addiction, there are also some literal examples, such as Jessica’s fondness for the bottle and her neighbour’s appetite for heroin. There’s also the complex character of Will Simpson who’s at the center of an ill-contrived subplot about pills that turn him into a rampaging maniac. It’s one of the few things I can criticise in this series, and that’s high praise from someone who usually rants about cultural genocide whenever the word ‘Marvel’ is mentioned. But this is nothing like The Avengers. It’s socially relatable, dark, brilliantly shot and carefully written – all the things you expect from a Netflix Original. Just don’t tell Batman and the other guys at DC that I enjoyed this.

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