Women writing women

Where do I start with Marvel’s Jessica Jones? It’s arguably one of the best – and most real – of Marvel’s Netflix Originals. Not only does it tick all the right boxes for “great TV show” – hard-hitting, memorable and personable characters, engaging plot – it does all of these whilst exploring themes from the perspective of a central female protagonist – themes that are oftentimes ignored, especially in the *Superhero Film* genre. If you compare the relatively drab narration of the experiences that Black Widow explains in the Marvel film Avengers: Age of Ultron to the raw, emotional and… just very real experiences of Jones’ PTSD, you can see that the Netflix Original group are far better at tackling this.

Which was why I was so pleased to see that the second series of Jessica Jones is to be directed solely by women. All thirteen episodes. Now, I’m not going to beat about the bush here, this is beyond remarkable. What made Jessica Jones as a series – and Jones as a character – so great is that all of a sudden, women weren’t a plot device (sorry, Widow…) and instead genuinely used their own damned agency. The entire series turned the PI noir-esque genre on its head by placing Jones at the centre of this, and were able to tackle even more serious topics – such as Jones’ sexual assault and psychological abuse at the hands of Kilgrave – in a manner which did not sensationalise or even remotely picture it. Again, Joss Whedon’s tackling of Black Widow comes to mind in regards to how not to do this, but that’s a film and not a TV show, so, back to business…

“What made Jessica Jones as a series – and Jones as a character – so great is that all of a sudden, women weren’t a plot device”

However, the TV show was not without its criticisms, and I genuinely feel that with having all-female writers, this could be confronted. Throughout the series, Jessica Jones does indeed grow as a purpose, but seems to be above the trauma she has faced – and never confronts the emotional side of things, instead focusing entirely on a more physical vengeance. Similarly, Kilgrave’s usage of his psychological manipulation powers is oftentimes criticised as more of a “party trick” power than ever genuinely tackling the level of abuse that characters such as Jessica and Malcolm ever indicate they’ve faced. Instead of being a human, Kilgrave is entirely demonised – which, when confronting emotional and sexual abuse, doesn’t do justice to the real victims of these events.

With women at the head of all episodes of Series 2 of Jessica Jones, perhaps this could be changed. Towards the end of the first series, Jones becomes less isolated, more willing to seek the assistance of other people, and this could perfectly lead on to a character development whereby Jones directly comes to terms with the experiences she’s faced, rather than blanking them out as if that is the only – or best – thing to do in these events. Not only that, but the potential of having heroes, villains and relationships – that are more complex and grey than the good vs. evil perpetuated through the male-dominated superhero genre can only be a good thing!

Errol Kerr

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