Whoa there, them be fighting words. Is this really the best programme on television (or Netflix) since Breaking Bad? As in, the Breaking Bad? That show that everyone unanimously agrees is one of the greatest of all time? I honestly believe it is.
The Marvel Universe (that Jessica Jones exists in) hasn’t typically done a great deal for me. While Iron Man was a great film, since then they’ve not really held my interest. That’s not to say that they’re bad films as such, they just aren’t to my tastes at all. Even the universally beloved, record breaking Avengers film left me feeling a bit empty afterwards, like promising a big night out and ending up at Nando’s.
This all changed with Daredevil. This Netflix-exclusive had about as much in common with the infamous Ben Affleck movie as The Avengers has with its 1960’s British namesake. This version kind of mixed Film Noir with martial arts, and was legitimately one of the most exciting programmes I have seen in a long time. Both are great examples of when the Netflix model actually works.
Jessica Jones is very similar to Daredevil in this way. Where the rest of the Avengers Universe (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, etc) exist in this bright, loud, explosive landscape, both Jessica Jones and Daredevil are far darker (both visually and tonally), existing in the dark underbelly of the same world. Full of looming shadows, tense music, short, intense bursts of violence.
How dark is Jessica Jones? Dark. Like, really dark. The bad guys are vile, reprehensible monsters, doing unimaginably evil things, but in a realistic, understandable way. Much like Breaking Bad, the show excels in playing with your emotions. It makes you feel sorry for the antagonist, then rips it out from underneath you and makes you feel like a piece of sh*t for starting to care about them in the first place.
Even the action here is better than in The Avengers, where they’ve substituted the gimmicky, things falling from the sky, flying battles of destruction for short, intense bursts of violence. It’s the kind that makes you not want to walk down a dark alley after you’ve watched it, even though the whole point of it is that the people involved have superpowers. I don’t even know what I’m afraid of, but Jessica Jones sure as hell makes me scared of it.
The comparison to Breaking Bad isn’t an arbitrary one, by the way. One of the awesome things about that show was the way they weaved through stories, placing things ahead of time that would come in to use later. You’d spend 30 minutes of a slow burning episode knowing that something, somewhere would happen, only for it to suddenly explode when you least expected it.
And explode Jessica Jones does. At least a quarter of every episode is watched through gritted teeth, grimacing at the suspense of what might happen. Watching the penultimate episode of the series last night, my girlfriend yelled “nooooo” so loudly and for so long after one such incident I had to ask her to be quiet so I could hear the TV. That’s a pretty impressive feat, even if it was with someone who walks around the flat singing the Lion King soundtrack.
The titular protagonist is played by Krysten Ritter, and it’s hard to put in to words how fantastic she is. If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know I have an appreciation for when an actor is able to portray more than one thing at once. With Ritter, she somehow manages to combine stunningly beautiful, powerful, violent, funny, sexy, tortured, empowered and vulnerable all at the same time. Kind of like Alison Brie, I have no idea why she isn’t a bigger deal yet.
And then there’s David Tennant’s character, Kilgrave. I’m not even going to say anything about him; just watch the show, change your underwear, then come and see me. And we’ll spend the next hour going “CAN YOU EVEN?” No, I really can’t.
It’s interesting that this is attached to the same world as The Avengers films, given that they are so different in so many ways. In fact, the only similarities (aside form they are both from Marvel comics) are that people have “abilities”, and they exist in the same city.
Aside from this, Jessica Jones probably has more in common with Luther than with The Avengers. It’s an incredibly well acted, creepy, dark, tense thriller, and has the ability to literally make you jump out of your seat when you are least expecting it. It’s the kind of programme you end up thinking about for hours afterwards, and it makes you accidentally drop it in to every conversation you have, regardless of what you’re talking about.
It’s basically Luther with superpowers. If that doesn’t make you want to watch it, I don’t know what to tell you.
Jessica Jones Rating: Why are you still reading this? Luther with superpowers, people.
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