When MARVEL said they were making a Jessica Jones series the first thing that goes through your mind is… who? Oh she’s Luke Cage’s wife… and I’m not being sexist about it, just honest. Despite the limited success of the character’s solo miniseries she’s not a “big” character in general. So after hearing that the follow-up to the AWESOMENESS that was Daredevil was going to be Jessica Jones my skepticism grew big, and the question about what could the series possibly offer on the shadow of its predecessor (and the source material, the ALIAS comic book) was big.
The offer was more of the “Adult” style that they used on Daredevil; so I expected strong emotional characters that grew among the drama and changed helped by an interesting and strong plot, which in itself was made stronger by tapping into this violent “adult” style as well. So, when the series started I could see a similar beginning to what made DD great, meaning a serious and sober scenario for a “super hero” story to develop, yet my pessimistic reaction to the first chapter was “mmm I hope they don’t focus only on Killgrave”… well they did, and that became the origin of most of the issues with the series, let’s call it…
The series is too lineal and monotonous for its own good, it doesn’t stretch enough to fill its potential premises; like Jessica’s past or the sub world of powered people or Trish’s struggles etc. It really borderlines in redundancy sometimes… and a lot of Things suffer because of this lack of texture.
Let’s discuss some of the suffering cast…
Character development: besides Jessica and occasionally Trish most of the characters in the series are monotonous and static, purely utilitarian, even Luke suffers of being a mere introduction and let’s not talk about some of the supporting members that are just plainly annoying or mysteriously underdeveloped (->police guy<- and neighbor crazy chick for example). The series is so focused on killgrave that nobody has a chance to turn into anything but plot tools… unlike DD where even the bad guys get a chance to grow and expand, (remember what a great character was Kingpin’s assistant?) Or, unlike in ALIAS, where Jessica actually evolves towards reconciliation with herself.
In the end, Killgrave meant something to Jessica, but the “trauma” in the series feels unrelated, a cause and effect excuse to make them enemies, the symbolism of Killgrave as an “ethical” stain on Jessica’s superhero life, which gave the relevancy to the relationship, does not exist in the series and is replaced by classic TV drama sociopathy… The previous absence is justified mainly by the second suffering factor…
HEROICS: we might as well forget that Jessica Jones is a Super hero series, cause the role of it is so downplayed that it’s LITERALLY nonexistent (besides the door opening). Now regularly this would be an OK issue, I mean we don’t need the theatrics in ALL the MCU’s products, but for Jessica Jones the lack of it takes away not only the fun “fantasy-ish” action that I think we do need (if not what’s the point) but more importantly one of the most attractive characteristics of the character is lost. The plot alone is not really enough to sustain the series on its own without the special element “heroics” give. I already said that I found the plot to be redundant, so all it was left was the chance of relying on the characters, which without the heroics fell into regular tropes of drama series.
In comparison, Daredevil, even though it wasn’t that fantastic, gave great attention to the development of the character heroic alter-ego, which translated into great action pieces and strong emotional character growth. Even more important is the comparison with the source material; in ALIAS/The Pulse Jessica’s heroics put her in a “relevant” spot among the MARVEL universe and helps her develop some exciting storylines… Yet the most relevant absence made by this is the relationship her powers mean to her as a character/person. in the comics the “harsh” and “broken” personality of Jessica is in fact born out of a reaction to her powers (or the failure to live by them), whether about what the source of them mean to her (family accident and history) or how her failure as a hero, which culminates with her time as Killgrave’s captive, affected her personality and future in this fantastic universe.
As we can see everything for the character in the comics has its origins on her brief superhero career, which makes her struggles relatable yet fantastic plus way more interesting by their fantastic nature (the great “what ifs?”). The nonexistent nature of this “heroic” factor downplays the impact of the series leading character, and from there, of everything overall.
Jessica Jones is by no means a bad series; it’s well made with high production values and great photography, strongly preformed and for what is worth, as a regular TV drama, it’s well written. But it fails greatly in becoming something “special”… personally I have no interest in see another TV drama, might as well go back to see Grey’s Anatomy, what I want is a drama that uses the MCU’s fantastic setting for making its contents different or the fact that super heroes/villains are involved as a platform to situations that only could occur in a fictional world as such.
So I guess that’s the problem with Jessica Jones… it’s just so damn mundane.