As each episode began, I was caught off guard at the number of women’s names in the credit sequence. This shouldn’t be surprising or worth celebration, but seeing women behind the camera in television (especially in a show with a female lead) is so important, and it shows in the way the show portrays trauma.
It’s been said a million times, but I’ll say it again: I’ve never seen a show portray trauma so well. In Jessica Jones, we have a heroine who is traumatized. She is doing the best she can, she copes using alcohol and by avoiding emotional intimacy. Meanwhile, her best friend and step-sister Trish is dealing with the trauma of child abuse as well as sexual abuse. She copes by learning self defense, staying sober, fortifying every aspect of her home and cutting her manipulative mother out of her life. There is no right way to deal with trauma, and Jessica Jones does a great job of showing this.
Also, David Tennant is absolutely chilling as mind controlling villain Kilgrave.
Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg does not include any rape scenes in this show, she says in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that this was an intentional decision. For this, I am so grateful. We don’t need to see Kilgrave rape his victims. It’s enough to see the long term effects of his manipulation and abuse, as Rosenberg says in this interview, we’ve seen enough rape on screen. Audiences don’t need to be reminded what assault looks like. Many have experienced it firsthand.
Kilgrave’s violence is a bit overused. We don’t need to see him force people to harm themselves in every episode. Just one instance of brutal violence is enough to make the point.
The main storyline — the game of cat and mouse between Jessica and Kilgrave — is compelling, but a couple self contained episodes, Jessica working on a case unrelated to Kilgrave, would open up the season more, giving character room to breath outside the main storyline.
This is a great show. It’s a show you should pace yourself on if you’re someone who has survived abuse of any kind. It’s a lot. There are scenes that will punch you in the gut. You don’t have to watch it all at once. Or you can take a break and call the Orange County Rape Crisis Center's hotline or use the crisis chat line. Or have a supportive friend on deck ready to text. Because it’s a great show, but it’s a lot to handle.
If you like this, consider watching:
Daredevil, Marvel’s other Netflix series. It’s just as moody as Jessica Jones, but slightly less violent and with much more Catholic guilt.