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Monday, April 10, 2017

Shawn Reviews Netflix’s Jessica Jones

I came into with Netflix’s Jessica Jones expecting a top-notch detective show. With a great actress like Krysten Ritter starring in the lead, I thought I’d be seeing a strong intelligent heroine solving a series of mysteries filled with suspense and intrigue. Unfortunately, all I saw onscreen was another shallow SJW girl power program featuring a poorly developed heroine who is just onscreen to be a hapless evil victim of an evil Purple Pervert who symbolizes the Patriarchy.

In the comics Jessica Jones is supposed to be this hard-boiled detective in the vein of pulp fiction detectives like Mike Hammer, Michael Shayne and her Indie comics’ Max Alan Collins and Terry Beatty’s Ms Tree. Unfortunately, Brian Michael Bendis can’t craft a character with the depth and substance of Michael Tree. And thanks to Bendis’ poor character development of Jessica Jones in the comics, there isn’t much for the writers to work with in adapting a Jessica Jones program for Netflix.

While Ms. Tree was a strong, confident intelligent woman who solved cases using her wits and her detective skills, Jessica Jones is a by-the-numbers insecure basket case who’s personal life is just as much a shambles as her office. In the opening scene of the first episode we’re shown Jessica Jones working at Alias Investigations. While she does a voice-over her client argues with her over what she’s found out about an affair his girlfriend is having. When he attacks her, she tosses him through the window of her office/apartment door.


When you look at the opening scene of Jessica Jones it’s a really weak opening to a show featuring a super-powered detective. And a textbook example of the weak writing on many of these Netflix shows. The big problem with Jessica Jones is that the writers don’t answer the most critical question a screenwriter has to ask before they start writing: WHY SHOULD WE CARE?

In that first episode I didn’t see a single reason to care about Jessica Jones. She had no personality. She had no “voice”. She didn’t have any character traits anyone could relate to or identify with. Outside of being a surly woman detective with super powers, she was a FLAT One-dimensional character with no personality and no soul. I kept looking for a reason to like her, but couldn’t find a single one due to the uninspired way she was written.  

Along with her flat characterization the writers showed me more screenwriting mistakes a first-year student would make in writing that first episode. Instead of showing viewers what’s so special about a super-powered private investigator, they tell us about her in a voice-over. That doesn’t make for compelling Television. I really wanted to see Jessica using her super powers to get into places other people couldn’t, sharing information a network of connections like Matt Murdock and working on cases related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, the first episode did none of this. Instead of giving us a super-powered detective show worthy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jessica Jones was just another detective show, and a poor one at that. I’ve seen episodes of Rizzoli & Isles with better stories than what’s in an episode of Jessica Jones.

Over the course of that first episode where she’ s investigating the disappearance of a missing co-ed, Jessica meets Jeri Hogarth to talk shop, follows her chocolate fetish Luke Cage around, talks to Patsy Walker, has sex with Luke Cage, goes, Then she gets clues to the mysterious Purple Man who has the girl captive at a hotel. This makes Jessica freak out and make plans to go to Hong Kong. When she can’t get a ticket, she reluctantly goes to solve the case. Only to have the girl she saved kill her parents at the end of the episode. It’s supposed to be a plot twist, but it’s not one we can care about, because we have no reason to care about Jessica Jones.  

For a detective show Jessica Jones has no mystery, no suspense, no intrigue. No twists and turns. Story often takes a backseat to the characters, and they’re just not compelling at all. Instead of giving us a mystery filled with twists and turns stuff just happens. And then we’re supposed to move on to the next episode looking for a reason to keep watching.   

I’m about done after one episode.

Jessica Jones is supposed to be the super-powered detective. But instead of giving us a show about a creative, resourceful woman who uses her powers to find clues ordinary cops miss and solve crimes without a costume, we get a hapless perpetual victim who is being tormented by The Purple Man, a sexual deviant who enjoys controlling and humiliating women.

Good Gravy, that’s just so by the numbers it’s not funny. 

The way I see it, using the Purple Man as Jessica’s nemesis is just a COP OUT so the writers don’t have to think about developing a real rogues gallery for her to take on. The Perverted Purple Man gives Jessica’s audience an easy bad guy to dislike, an easy opponent for her to beat and someone the feminists in the SJW audience can easily hate because he’s a…Man who humiliated her in the past and she wants to keep him from hurting her or other women. 

I’m sorry, that’s not a good enough story for me. If Jessica Jones is supposed to be a super powered detective I want to see her matching wits with a series of formidable opponents, not some Purple Straw Man she can easily tear apart. As a writer of strong heroines, I know that heroines get more of a challenge fighting other women than they would a fighting man. And I know that women can find ways to humiliate another woman she HATES worse than a Perverted Purple Man could ever imagine.  

But that doesn’t fit the SJW/Feminist narrative of the show and Brian Michael Bendis’ shallow foundations for Jessica’s character. In their eyes Only White (Well, Purple) men are evil. And by snapping the Purple Man’s neck she kills a misogynist from the evil White male Patriarchy.  

Damn. Just Damn.

If Jessica Jones was actually thought out with some sort of depth or substance, she’d be facing off against a series of rogues who challenged her intelligence, creativity and resourcefulness the way Michael Tree did in the pages of Ms. Tree. While Ms. Tree’s primary nemesis was the Muerta organization that killed her man, she also took on both men and women who were just as dangerous when she was working cases. (Read the Abortion storyline to see this) What made readers respect Ms. Tree in the comics was the fact that she was a PROFESSIONAL who could go out and solve the toughest cases and outsmart mobsters, serial killers and rapists. Yeah, she usually wound up with a huge body count in every issue, but watching her stand toe-to-toe with those criminals and the best of male detectives at the end of the day is what made her a the badass Jessica Jones wishes she could be.

The big difference between Jessica Jones and Ms. Tree is that Jessica is a VICTIM and Ms. Tree is a SURVIVIOR. On the show Jessica is just there to take abuse from the Purple Man and never comes to a point where she takes her personal power back. We never see her develop the strength of character Ms. Tree did to stand up for herself and keep fighting as she took over her man’s detective agency and continued fighting his fight. As she survived, she overcame the mob and went on to become one of the best private investigators to ever grace a comic page.

I wanted to see Jessica Jones be that kind of survivor. But SJW Marvel gave us a character with none of that courage or conviction.

A Mystery Done RIGHT!
As a writer of strong heroines, I expected WAY more from Jessica Jones than was offered onscreen. I’ve written strong heroines with far more depth and substance than this mysteries like Isis: All About The Goddess, so I know It’s possible to write a super-powered mystery story filled with intrigue, suspense and plot twists that keep the audience compelled to find out who did the crime. And it’s possible to create an engaging heroine that the audience has a reason to like and care about. With all the money Marvel Studios spent on Jessica Jones, there’s no excuse for the absolutely horrible storytelling on this show.

I’m a big fan of Krysten Ritter. And I’ve loved her work since I saw her in Don’t Trust the B- in Apartment 23. And I believe an actress of her caliber deserves better than the amateur hour writing on Jessica Jones. Because those writers give her absolutely nothing to work with. She does her best, but there’s not much she can do with the garbage scripts she has to deal with.

I can’t recommend Jessica Jones. It’s a shallow show based on shallow source material from a terrible writer. The first episode’s not worth a watch let alone a binge. If you want to see a really strong heroine doing detective work, go pick up some back issues of Max Alan Collins & Terry Beatty’s Ms. Tree. One issue of that comic blows the doors off the entire season of Netflix’s Jessica Jones. 


  1. I'll agree with you when it comes to Bendis' writing. You see what he did to the once great Doctor Doom? Secret Wars gives him a new beginning and Bendis gives us something awful. He needs tighter editing.

    Anyway, Jones does a little growing. And Purple Man's pretty nasty in the show. Some of the stunts he pulls off makes him a decent villain. He isn't easy to take down in that series. There are interesting ties to Luke Cage's story as well.


  2. This is what you get for getting comics put onto TV as a cheap live-action show.