English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: #JessicaJones Page 1 of 2

The Battle Between Evil and Lesser Evil

After having watched the finale of Jessica Jones, it feels like all the scattered pieces of thematic conflict have come together, and a coherent message emerged. In fact, it’s explicitly brought up by the nurse as she talks to Jessica about her superpowered friend. And in this conversation, we get a better explanation of why Jessica can’t be anyone’s hero: she doesn’t know if what she’s doing is right or wrong. We’ve seen her struggle with guilt all season long as Kilgrave kills innocent people around them as a way to threaten her to act a certain way. The recurrence of this makes her feel like she leaves a trail of death behind her, making her question if killing Kilgrave is worth all the innocent people that may die because of it. This hesitation suggests to the audience that the line between good and bad is not always so clear-cut, and I think this is the main theme of the show. Sometimes, doing the right thing means putting a lot of people in danger.

In the conversation with the nurse, Jessica asks her, “How is he so sure he’s the good guy?”, referring to the nurse’s friend. In that moment, we get to see the question she’s been asking herself all this time, is she even the good guy? With all that blood seemingly on her hands, it’s understandable why she has moments of self-doubt. In fact, in the final battle, she must first pass through a crowd of people ordered to kill each other, to then defeat him by putting the person she cares about most in danger. This is what made Kilgrave so powerful: he could control Jessica by manipulating her guilt. As long as she felt guilty, he was untouchable. So, in a very un-glorious fashion, she must ignore the innocent lives in danger to finally kill Kilgrave. No wonder she doesn’t feel like a hero, even after terminating such a monster. As season 1 rolls to a close and Jessica deletes the messages of people asking for her help, we see that even after everything, she doesn’t see herself as the good guy everyone else does.

Above: Here, Jessica must hand over the most important person to her, her adoptive sister Trish, in order to kill Kilgrave.

Corrupted Justice in Jessica Jones

From the beginning of my journey into Jessica Jones’s world back in Season 1 to where I stand now, halfway through Season 2, an aspect that always interested me more than any other, while equally intriguing me, was the law system in the show, more specifically its corruption. Anomalies within the justice system was present in many episodes, such as in the very first, when a married male strip club owner caught having an affair with another woman by Jessica, and issued a subpoena to attend court, still leaves with a verdict of not guilty, to the episode I am on in Season 2 where Jessica and her step-sister Trish are released from prison after falsely being accused of a murder committed by, pretty much, a monster. This constant repetition of false trials and incorrect decisions, in addition to representing the inevitable inconsistencies in the justice system in the real world, especially in a populous city such as New York (the show’s setting), also demonstrate the fact that justice is simply a relative term that can easily be manipulated by people looking to take advantage of its inconsistencies.

Jessica Jones is presented as an ideal example of someone who not only endures a lack of justice provided in the first place given her minority status in the overall population around her (a female with super-powers), but also someone who constantly has to endure the consistently manipulated justice. From the reaction of passersby whenever Jessica reveals a snippet of her superhuman strength to the reaction of the jury whenever her super-powers came into picture in the court, which she has visited plenty of times due to falsely being accused of crimes, it is obvious that the society dislikes anyone with such abnormalities, even if they have them without their consent, as is the case for Jessica as she was experimented upon as a child. In addition, she has also witnessed several instances of people using this flimsy justice system to their advantage, a prime example being Kilgrave, who, as Jessica herself has recalled several times, has raped her, forced her to kill someone, and provided her with a strong case of PTSD because of those reasons and his mind-controlling abilities, all without suffering any consequences. Jessica, however, after successfully managing to kill him in the end of Season 1, is sent straight to prison for murdering someone who has tormented her and several other lives.

Finally, as it can be seen by the instances above, Jessica Jones has made many more visits to courts than any male character in the show, including her neighbor Malcolm, who has been present with her following many of the murders (although to help her most of the time) and still remained unquestioned by the police. This trend can therefore relate the justice system in the show to gender axes as well, making the law system in the show that much more corrupted but still interesting to discover more corruption of.

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“One, keep denying it…”

Jessica Jones’ Impact on the World

Review of Entire 2 seasons of Jessica Jones:

Jessica Jones is widely known as an unconventional, revolutionary TV show for its lead female character and predominantly female production crew. In addition to these accomplishments, Jessica Jones has also tackled major real-world issues that has left its mark on the world.

One particular issue is rape. After season 1 ended, the #MeToo movement began, and Jessica Jones did not shy away from addressing issues regarding rape head-on. Season 2 asked very important questions. What does sexual assault mean, and what does it do? Why does it leave the wrong person ashamed and everybody silent?”

Interestingly enough, season 1 also deals with these issues even though it was shot before the #MeToo movement began. During this season, Jessica Jones’ main conflict was with a man with mind-controlling powers called Kilgrave. It was this conflict that the show used to define what mind-control really meant which connected to issues such as sexual assault. In one particular example, during a scene where Jessica was accusing Kilgrave of his crimes, Kilgrave defends himself by stating that “Jessica Jones had previously had dinner with the accused…”, and Kilgrave followed the comment with “we used to do a lot more than just touch hands.” Jessica immediately responds to this by saying, “Yeah. It’s called rape”. Kilgrave then responds, “Which part of staying in five-star hotels, eating at all the best places, doing whatever the hell you wanted, is rape?”. Jessica than defiantly replies, “The part where I didn’t want to do any of it! Not only did you physically rape me, but you violated every cell in my body and every thought in my goddamn head.”

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Scene where Jessica accuses Kilgrave of his crimes

This scene is one of many examples of Jessica Jones defining the essence of the problem with sexual assault/rape.

The impact of this show is already evident. In one interview with the actress who plays Jessica Jones, Krysten Ritter, she said that women have come up to her in tears in the streets because this was the first time they felt represented by the lead of a show.

Hopefully, Jessica Jones will continue to inspire people and impact the world like it is doing now.

AKA The Theme of Ladies Night

This is the first episode of Jessica Jones, entitled AKA Ladies Night. It is a good episode to talk about the argument of, because it kinda sets the standard for what the show is about and what the underlying message is throughout the first season. The episode is arguing for the consequences, both physical and psychological, of rape. It shows how one can become trapped in one’s own mind in a sense as well as the eventually the effect that the justice system has on victims. The premise of the episode is all about introductions. It introduces Jessica, Kilgrave, and Hope. In this episode Hope is raped by Kilgrave and later forced to murder her parents. She is overwhelmed by Kilgrave’s power and the legal system is of little help to her especially after such a traumatic event has damaged her psyche.

Hope under Kilgrave’s influence.

This episode argues its point by showing the lasting trauma that Jessica experiences from her encounters with Kilgrave as well as making non-tangible consequences, effects, and concepts of rape into physical things that one can view through the show.  Over the course of the show, Jessica and Hope as well as the many other victims of Kilgrave are shown to have to deal with the trauma inflicted upon them. They show the very real affects that such an event as having one’s own minds and bodies overpowered and/or raped can have on anyone of any class, race, or gender. This episode’s argument is carried throughout the rest of the show because that is the whole overarching idea that is presented through Kilgrave’s powers and Kilgrave’s morals. As far as the legal aspect that continues onwards throughout the season, the inability of the police or judicial system to deal with such a matter illustrates the occasional but common enough incompetence that arises through cases of rape while under the influence of another. This is a very real problem in today’s society and Jessica Jones does a rather good job in showing it.

Not all Heroes Wear Capes…Or Smiles: Exploration of a Common Theme in Jessica Jones

The last episode of the first season of Jessica Jones, titled “AKA Smile”, was quite a packed one, from Luke Cage’s revival from Jessica’s reluctant gunshot on him while he was under control of the mind-controlling Kilgrave to the astonishing death of Kilgrave from Jessica’s bare hands. This sudden death of who has been the show’s main antagonist raises several interesting points, from putting the plots of coming episodes in question as the show has suddenly lost a focal character, to the shift in general perceptions of the townspeople of Jessica. From the beginning of the season till the moment she snaps Kilgrave’s neck to his death, it could easily be seen how the general surrounding around Jessica, excluding those who have genuinely gotten to know her over time, such as her step-sister Trish, neighbor Malcolm, and “love” Luke Cage, viewed and treated her much like her own personality: sassily and rather harshly. Even the people supposedly representing the law who she had to testify her innocence to multiple times throughout the episodes, including those who questioned her following her “unlawful murder” of Kilgrave after him taking control over multiple people throughout his life and unlawfully murdering many of them, treated her similarly to her personality and her possession of superpowers rather than her actions. This show therefore presents Jessica Jones as an ideal example of someone who is constantly judged based on most any other factor than her actions and the overall benefit she is truly providing to the people around her and many more, and argues that though they do not contain superpowers like Jessica, there are many people in our society whose positive actions also go unnoticed since they are judged based on other less important factors.

In addition to her actions and physical powers, the show also presents multiple instances where Jessica displays immense mental strength, the most common one being her withstanding the trials, questions, and often going about unnoticed or even looked down upon. The last episode of the first season itself displays many of the other instances of her mental strength, such as the way she kept herself from breaking down consistently as she witnessed Luke Cage being transported to the ER after she shot him and as the nurses tried but failed to perform many medical procedures on his indestructible skin. But perhaps the strongest instance will have to be the moments before Jessica succeeded in her mission of Kilgrave’s death, which included her having to pretend to be under his control and listen to him as he falsely declares his love for her step-sister and promises to torture her until he thought she was actually under his control and let his guard down. In the end, the only people who actually witnessed Jessica’s actions and strengths, such as Trish in the scene above, over time grew to support her along the way, a recurring theme in the show that closely mirrors the real world.

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Jessica pretending to be under Kilgrave’s influence.

Jessica Jones: Gender Investigation

Jessica Jones is the main heroine of the show, as implied by the name. A female show runner already puts the show above others in terms of gender representation and inclusion. The show does well to focus on strong female characters such as Trish and Hogarth, the lawyer.

This show is based off of a comic and follows the trends of such modern superhero shows. Basically, the producers change the race and gender of several characters so that the show is more inclusive and appeals to a wider audience. Jessica Jones, for example, swapped the lawyer’s gender to the stone-cold, homosexual woman that is one of the central characters of the show. This move made by the show shows that it is trying its best to represent more sexual orientations and genders than its source material. This is an obvious indicator of the improvement of representation in today’s world, because the producers would go to such lengths as changing and introducing new characters so that they steer away from how it was back when the comics where first produced.

Even without the changes, the Jessica Jones’ New York City is rather inclusive when it comes to its representation of gender and race. Of cours

e one of the underlying themes in the show is its discussion of rape culture and how women are represented to deal with that and the issue of consent, especially while under the influence; though it may be mind control, its no different then the effects of alcohol. Jessica Jones is shown to be a strong individual who still has emotional issues as all of us do, so the show really balances stereotypes with actual humanity in a way that makes Jessica the character that she is.

Lastly, as far as inclusion, the interracial relationship between Jones and Luke Cage makes a big jump towards discussing a topic that is often shied away from and under-represented. Overall, I feel like my opinion as a dude does not do the show justice, but I think the show does a pretty spot-on job with its embracement of all viewers and potential fans.

Is Jessica Jones a Feminist TV Show?

In my opinion, feminist shows are shows in which women are placed into positions where they are not restricted to a one-dimensional personality, where they are portrayed as independent members of society, and most of all, where they can be the masters of their own destinies. In the past, television predominantly showed women as wives rather than individuals, or they were “sidekicks” to a male protagonist. Jessica Jones brilliantly rejects this outdated model, and not just because the main character is a superpowerful woman.

The first thing about Jessica Jones (the character, not the show) I noticed as I watched the first few episodes is that she was nothing like the cookie-cutter female characters in superhero media. Early on, we are introduced to her alcoholism, her non-existent filter, and her superstrength. While Jessica Jones having these characteristics did not make the show inherently feminist, it did confirm one thing: Jessica Jones is not here to make anyone’s sandwiches.

Rather than dissecting Jessica’s character, I wanted to take a look at the gender spread on the show’s main cast (pictured below). As you can see, among the eight most important characters, there’s a nice 50-50 split between men and women. Hiring more female actresses into important roles is always a great first step towards producing a show with feminist values. This show also fulfills another of my requirements to be considered feminist: the female characters are all portrayed as independent members of society. In addition to the no-nonsense Jessica Jones, Jeri Hogarth is a ruthless lawyer, Trish Walker is a self-asserting public figure, and Hope Shlottman is a girl who, despite being raped, does not succumb to the attitude of a victim. These 4 characters are a powerful group of female leads, not limited by relationships to any men, contrary to many female characters in recent media.

Also contrary to most of today’s media, the show gives us a sidekick who is not only male, but mostly important because of his relationship to Trish. While this is mostly true earlier on in season 1, the portrayal of Will Simpson as a supporting character supports the kind of role reversal between male lead and female supporting character the show writers were going for. With all this in mind, it’s hard to argue that the show Jessica Jones favors men over women, or that it victimizes female characters, so I’m gonna chalk this show down as being feminist, in the best way possible.

 

Above: The main cast of Jessica Jones.

Community and Help: An Important Element to Jessica Jones and the World

For this post, I analyzed the theme presented in Jessica Jones Episode 4 “AKA 99 Friends”.

Multiple arguments were made in this episode that bolstered the theme of the episode. First, the show played around the necessity of therapy in the episode. In this episode as well as the previous episode, Jessica is shown having a dismissive attitude towards therapy. Due to her PTSD, she often recites a series of words that remind her of her happiest moments. Even though Jessica always seem to dislike the idea of therapy, the show shows how the support group she is apart of helps her face Kilgrave, the main antagonist of the story. She even recommends that support group to Malcolm, Jessica’s neighbor. The show clearly argues the need of therapy or support to those in troubled situations.

The second argument the show makes during this episode surrounds the idea of personal responsibility. Jessica Jones is clearly portrayed as an abnormal hero. Throughout the show, Jessica struggles with what she is really responsible for. In other words, should she help anyone who asks for it? This question is asked multiple times, and in this episode particularly, the morality of personal responsibility is questioned when (*spoiler warning*) Jessica finds out Malcolm is actually working for Kilgrave as Jessica’s stalker. In addition to this twist, Jessica originally met Malcolm when she first encountered Kilgrave all those years ago and tried to save Malcolm from Kilgrave. Interestingly, Jessica continues to help Malcolm despite being betrayed completing the argument of personal responsibility. The show ultimately argues that help should be given without condition. This is clearly shown when Malcolm asks Jessica if humanity is worth saving, and this goes well with Jessica’s struggle with personal responsibility.

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Scene that shows the comical side of the relationship between Jessica and Malcolm

At the end, both these arguments support the one of the main overarching themes of the show: seeking community and help. Both these arguments show the importance of having a community or a friend who will help unconditionally. In the example with Malcolm, Jessica has no reason to help him especially with his betrayal. However, Jessica continues to help him even though she always acts like she doesn’t care about Malcolm. I believe this theme applies to the real-world very well. Often, mental illness and suicide often arise from the lack of community and the lack of help from others. The theme shown goes to show how important community and help is to our society today.

 

 

Sometimes Silence can be the Greatest Storyteller: The Writing in Jessica Jones

Whenever I find myself analyzing Jessica Jones, I find myself realizing how unique the show is compared to its competitors. In accordance with the conclusion I made in my last blog, the dark mood of the show is also developed through the writing. This blog post will be analyzing a single episode, Season 1 Episode 7: AKA Top Shelf Perverts. I’m looking at only a single episode because 1) I haven’t seen the entire first season and 2) the writers vary per episode. This episode was written by Jenna Reback and Micah Schraft. Reback has written 9 episodes for Jessica Jones, and Schraft has written 3 episodes, although he has a variety of experience producing and writing for 3 and 10 shows, respectively. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that these two writers wrote the story as the producer intended it to be written, so it can be used as an accurate representation of season 1 as a whole.

Season 1 seems to open every episode in a similar fashion: there is almost always a full minute, or more, of near silence as we are transported into the world of Jessica Jones. This first minute of silence feels like it eases us into the show before everything picks up as the action begins. In fact, I would argue that most of the storytelling is carried by said action, rather than by speech. Jessica Jones, in particular, prefers to act instead of monologue out her plans. Many times, the show takes the viewers along for a ride, rather than holding our hands through the story. Conversation is used more as a tool for developing relationships between characters than driving plot. Because of this, nearly all conversation is between the 4-5 main characters, and chatter is kept to a minimum.

The infrequency of chatter further develops the show’s dark mood. In contrast, dialogue-heavy shows like The Good Place, one of my personal favorites, feel very lively. The rhythm of dialogue in Jessica Jones can be more appropriately characterized by alternating periods of heated conversation and periods of very little conversation. This reinforces Jessica Jones’ stance that the world can be a depressing, lonely place; the show may revolve around Jones, but that doesn’t mean anyone on the streets of New York cares about her presence. The moments of silence really bring that idea to life, in my opinion.

Above: Not only do the writers want to keep talking to a minimum, but so does the antagonist! Also, notice how much we can tell about the antagonist from the indirect characterization provided through this character’s line.

Jessica Jones and the lack of “Free Choice”

The title is just a pun on this being the free choice option for the blogs. Also because of the whole occasional lack of free will due to Kilgrave’s mind control powers. This entry is going to a bit all over the place. The main two topics, as it is my choice to do so will be: the relation of the show to the comics and the choice of actors in the show.

This show is based off of the Jessica Jones comic series with the character being brought about and developed by the specific comic and the other’s she is apart of. The biggest part of the show is how they work in the villains, fellow heroes, and other significant events in the Marvel universe while maintaining a new and innovative plot line. Of course some of the basic concepts within the show are from the comics like Jones’ relations with Kilgrave and Luke Cage. But unlike in the comics, Kilgrave is not called the purple man and he doesn’t have as far a reach over other comic characters and heroes. There is also the part where Jessica Jones was made to be apart of the Marvel Defenders saga where she is only one of 4 stories or shows that are made and eventually lead to the Defenders TV show/fighting force. So basically a huge part of the underlying plot points going throughout the show is working Jones in with the other characters that she is destined to meet.

The second topic, which is one I tweeted about earlier in the semester, is the importance of the actors chosen by the producers of the show. Creating the right feel for the show is an important job that the actors must do correctly and creatively in order to create a realistic and immersive show. One major point is whether big name actors ruin this because they are associated with other television shows. I find it interesting how certain actors get heavy ties with other characters they have played, such as David Tennant. He has been in many other shows and in this he is depicted as an wicked twisted man, but he is heavily associated with BBC and Doctor Who. The other actors are not in any other big franchises so they are the character that they play, but when an actor who is recognizable is put in, then they are seen as the person not the character. This is simply an interesting characteristic of certain actors and can have a huge effect on the realism of a show. The same can be said for many other actors that are seen as themselves or the wrong character such as Daniel Radcliffe or Tom Cruise who can’t be in a movie or show without one thinking “hey, that’s Harry Potter.” Overall, this is an important issue within certain shows that is difficult to address but imperative nonetheless.

Silence is Golden: A Look at Dialogue and Writing in Jessica Jones

The episode I am writing about, Episode 7: “AKA Top Level Perverts”, is written by Jenna Reback and Micah Schraft. Reback has been a production staff member of 7 episodes of the show “Red Window” and 9 episodes for Jessica Jones, including this episode, while Micah Schraft has been a production staff member of and written episodes for several shows, including 3 episodes for Jessica Jones and 14 episodes for Jane the Virgin!

Going back to the writing of episode 7, dialogue in this episode, much like many other components, is structured similarly to the other episodes: short segments of people conversing, Jessica Jones included, followed by long segments of the episode focused on Jessica herself either voiced over at times with certain quotes from Jessica or simply joined with jazz background music as she is either planning out a new idea involving capturing Kilgrave, coping with her traumas of the past, or even just walking around the bustling New York City at night-time. This emphasis on Jessica for the majority of the time in this episode, and others alike, continues to put the viewers in her point of view and empathize with her as she makes each decision and carries out each of her decisions, including her decision to first take the blame for Kilgrave’s murder of her lover in order to end up in a high-security prison to capture Kilgrave, to finding him in the police station and deciding to go with him to save the lives of the people around her.

A standard supermax prison cell, one that   Jessica wanted to go to

Silence, due to its continued prevalence in this episode as a large portion of it focuses on Jessica formulating the plan above and making mental decisions, is key in each episode as it allows for the viewers to learn more about her through her mental recollections. One of the things that become obvious is that she never liked her stepmother who took her from an orphanage and initially seemed like a nice person, due to her bad actions and intentions for her actions, something that took several moments of flashbacks by Jessica in each episode for the viewers to notice.

Finally, something that stood out to me about the writing of this episode, compared to the previous ones, is the way Kilgrave is somewhat justified in his actions, especially for his love for Jessica as he declared it when in the police station. He told her that he fell in love with her since she was the only one who was able to resist him to an extent, as in his power of mind control, showing that he admired her physical and mental strength. The writers therefore wanted to present Kilgrave as being somewhat rational, even though very over-the-top with many of his actions, which is definitely a unique idea present in this episode that was not present in previous ones.

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Kilgrave before admitting his love for Jessica

The noir cinematography and dark direction of Jessica Jones

Episode 5 Season 1

As the plot of the show (and this episode) is very dark and serious, the cinematography of the show truly bolsters this tone by using a very dark visuals as well. More specifically, the show likes to use a classic 1940’s noir lighting by using hard light and immediately cutting to high-contrast black and white shapes. Sometimes during important dramatic scenes, the color becomes more saturated or softer during scenes conveying talent.  Also, majority of the scenes in this episode took place at night, which I thought was interesting. I think the directors shot the scenes in this way to convey the night as a more warm and forgiving setting unlike most shows, which use the night to convey the exact opposite feeling.

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Scene in the show depicting the white-dark contrast in lighting

In addition, the show tends to have long scenes with minimal cuts to purposely include the whole background including the main characters. Rather than having many up-close shots of the characters, the directors purposely included a wide background in many of the shots. Unless it’s an action scene, most scenes seem to have this quality. I think the directors purposely shot the scenes in that way to strongly convey the dark tone used throughout the show.

The episode I watched for this blog didn’t appear to have any distinct/different visuals compared to other episodes in the season. However, the episode did continue to reinforce some of the colors/tones associated with the character Jessica Jones. For example, Jessica Jones’ color on screen always seems a bit de-saturated, which I think supports her steely, cool nature. In addition, when Jessica is interacting with other characters, the scene would often show contrast colors between Jessica and the other character or characters to highlight Jessica. The color often contrasted would be darker and more classic black/white than the color surrounding or reflecting off of the character or characters Jessica was interacting with.

AKA 99 Friends and How They’re Written

This is based off the fourth episode of Jessica Jones titled “AKA 99 Friends.” The credited writer of this series is Hilly Hicks, Jr. who has also written The Big C, Chicago Fire, and Pasadena. However the show is based off of Marvel comics so the writer is writing based off of someone else’s ideas, characters, and themes. Jessica Jones the comic was written/created by Brian Michael Bendis. The show gives credit to the comics and Stan Lee for the whole program. The dialogue is based around a slight New York City dialect and the inner voice of Jessica Jones. The only voice over is the thoughts of Jessica Jones during times of quiet, transitions, and pauses. This allows the viewer into the troubled mind of Jones and doesn’t create a weird silence while she stalks people. Also, it helps keep you keep up with what is going on and what issues Jessica Jones is going through with her PTSD.

I just thought this was a good and humorous addition to this otherwise dreary topic.

In this episode there are times of character silence that is used to allow the viewer to hear Jessica’s thoughts. Times of complete silence are almost always filled with tension or sadness, generally negative emotions. In this episode, it allows you to see a tear roll down Jessica’s face after the betrayal of a friend. Silence is also used for times of sleep which often leads to nightmares relating to Jessica’s experiences with Kilgrave. This is a marvel show, therefore there is a big ol’ load of references and allusions to ‘the big green guy’ or events that have taken place in marvel movies or other comics. Another character in the show is Luke Cage, he has his own show and therefore is kind of an allusion in and of itself.

The show Luke Cage that stems from Jessica Jones

The writing of the show is very powerful in its underlying messages about modern issues that are made apparent by using an issue in the show as a reference to a real world issue such as racism. Plus, I just like the way Jessica Jones is written as a bad ass character who pretends to not care and usually doesn’t.

Jessica Jones has a Dark Past, and a Dark Show

Six episodes into season 1 of Jessica Jones and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface. There is so much left to learn about the characters’ pasts, the extent of Jessica’s abilities, and the message the producers wanted to convey to the viewers. However, something that was made clear as soon as the intro sequence of the pilot episode came onscreen was this show’s visual style. Within the first minute of the first episode, it is clear that Jessica Jones will deviate from the cheerful, vibrant visuals of your typical Marvel blockbusters like The Avengers. The intro features a dark scenes contrasted with bright streaks of color on which silhouettes are depicted. And while not every scene is as somber as the opening sequence, the rest of the show echoes a new trend in television: dark and moody visuals.

The visual style of the show is one of its distinguishing features, and it is prominent in every scene. Much of the show takes place in dimly lit apartments, whether it be Jessica’s or one of her client’s. When’s she not inside, she’s interacting with a gray, gloomy New York. These visuals not only establish the scene, but are consistently setting the mood. The visuals represent Jessica’s attitude and perspective that the world is a dark, depressing place. This idea is also reinforced by recurring images of Jessica drinking alone in her apartment and of her somberly looking at herself in the mirror. Everything considered, the visuals is part of what makes this show different from mainstream TV; Jessica Jones isn’t afraid of showing you a world painted in grayscale. This, in my opinion, is one of its strengths and one of the factors that made me choose it.

See below for a series of shots from Jessica Jones‘ intro sequence that demonstrate the type of gloomy images employed by the animators.

The faces says it all…

Jessica Jones: Episode 1 Season 1

This episode of Jessica Jones was written by multiple writers in Los Angeles with one of the writers being on set in New York City. These writers took inspiration from Daredevil, the other Netflix Marvel character. Interestingly enough, the writers of Jessica Jones were developed through the production of the season rather than being pre-written unlike the other Netflix Avengers TV shows. I think this is very interesting because the method of the show’s writing also reflects the impromptu/just-go-with-it attitude of the character Jessica Jones.

Dialogue in this episode was very informal with no voice over. However, there were multiple scenes with just music playing in the background that set the tone of each scene. The music with the silence of the characters in the scene almost acted as a passive voice over for the episode. I feel like this shapes the character of Jessica Jones much more and adds to the dark tone of the episode. For example, there is one scene where Jessica Jones is spying on Luke Cage, who happens to be another superhero. Without any words, the audience can tell just from her facial expressions and the slow, steady background music that Jessica yearns for a normal life without PTSD or any of her problems.

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Jessica speaks through her facial expressions

On the note of the episode using silence, the episode very frequently used flashbacks that blends in reality to express the feeling of Jessica’s PTSD. Rather than do direct black and white flashbacks to the past to recall why she has PTSD, the episode often blends scenes from the past and the present with fast paced music to instill a sense of fear in the audience’s minds. In these scenes, Jessica also does not talk often if not at all, which I believe is used to show how much fear Jessica Jones has for the antagonist of the season, Kilgrave.

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Flashback scene

Overall, the frequent absence of dialogue in the writing of the episode stood out to me most. Most of Jessica’s feelings or complex thoughts were expressed through music and facial expressions which the writers did well in synchronizing the two elements together in scenes. For example, the plot twist at the end of the episode wasn’t started via a dialogue scene like in many other TV shows, but through slow, eerie music and through Jessica’s silence.

 

 

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