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TV Binge: Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones is a dark and gritty entry to Marvel’s TV canon that soars to the heights of top-notch TV drama

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a behemoth, a ubiquitous presence in the contemporary world of film and television that many cinephiles loves to bemoan as the epitome of the commercialisation of art. This criticism is a fair one, and for the past few years, we have been ‘treated’ to an incessant barrage of formulaic superhero blockbusters upon the silver screen.

Enter Netflix. Ever since everyone’s favourite streaming service began producing original television, its run of content has been consistently strong. Marvel joined their party last year—a wise move. The quality of their Netflix series far surpasses anything the MCU has been producing for the big screen. For anyone who believes that we are living in a golden age of television, Marvel has provided the proof to the pudding.

Jessica Jones—their second series on Netflix—is, in basic terms, the best thing to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. It is the Marvel story for non-Marvel fans and outright Marvel-sceptics; a dark and gritty tale worthy of the film noir heritage where it overtly takes influence from. In fact, to even classify Jessica Jones as a superhero story would be seen as a stretch.

The plot sees Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter)—a woman with superhuman strength and flight abilities—struggling to rebuild her life as a private detective after a harrowing encounter with the mind-controlling villain Kilgrave (David Tennant)—whom she assumes is now firmly in her past. But his unexpected return into her life forces her to confront him once again, drawing her action increasingly deep into a moral grey zone. Unlike many superhero movies, matters of life and death are truly at stake here.

Many viewers familiar with the more family-friendly flicks presented by the MCU so far will likely be shocked at the content of Jessica Jones—the series pulls few punches in portraying sex, alcoholism, violence and rape. And yet its way of tackling these tricky topics never feel over-sensationalised. It perfectly fits the shady atmosphere of the story, giving us a brooding (yet never bleak) superhero drama. In fact, without the logo in the title sequence, it would be hard to guess that this was even from Marvel.

The quality of the writing and performances should not go unmentioned. The plot is perfectly paced, and the sharp, insightful dialogue is delivered superbly, especially by Ritter—her performance as the titular character gives us the ultimate super-anti-hero. David Tennant also shines as the thoroughly detestable—yet often surprisingly sympathetic—bad-guy. The complexity of these two characters is the stuff of truly great TV drama.

Jessica Jones is the kind of superhero TV series that non-superhero fans have been waiting for. Forget Deadpool—this is the essential edgy and R-rated Marvel product. It is not only the best thing that the MCU has done, but also one of Netflix’s best original series to date. Next time you have 13 hours to spare, this is the TV binge you need.