Jessica Jones is a gut-punch of a superhero show. Based on Brian Michael Bendis” run of Alias from 2001, the Netflix show turned up the pathos to 11 and ripped the knob off. When the show launched back in November of 2015, I had every intention of binge-watching it. In reality, I didn”t finish the final episode until months later because Jessica Jones is a masterpiece of the realities of domestic abuse which makes it both essential and difficult to watch.
Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg used Jessica Jones as a vehicle to show that abuse can happen to anyone and the myth of the ‘perfect victim” hurts those trying to escape the cycle. On paper, Jones” (Krysten Ritter) should be one of the least likely victims of DV. She”s tough, she”s independent, she”s street-savvy, and her superpower is literally super-strength. But none of that matters once she”s trapped in the manipulations of Kilgrave (David Tennant). People have written at length about how well the show encapsulates the different kinds of domestic abuse. It”s a responsibility Rosenberg continues to take seriously. Just because the abuser is out of the picture doesn”t mean the trauma stops.
The first season of Jessica Jones was about taking back agency from abusers – Jessica from Kilgrave and Trish (Rachael Taylor) from her mother (Rebecca De Mornay). Then there was a tertiary character like Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) coming to grips with the fact that SHE is the abuser in her relationships. But with things wrapping up as neatly as could reasonably be expected by the season finale, where does the show go from here? In a more mainstream ‘sitcom” world, everything would be fine now. But luckily, Rosenberg doesn”t believe in a sitcom world. Speaking at length to Esquire about the second season of Jessica Jones, the showrunner was adamant that Jessica isn”t ‘fixed” now:
“People don't just heal, you don't go through that just to say, 'Oh, he got arrested, he's in jail, I'm OK now.”That trauma is a huge part of who she is now.”
This is crucial to the framework of the series. Jessica Jones is a broken woman dealing with demons from her childhood, her adolescence, and her adulthood. She”s been traumatized over and over again. Guilt and self-flagellation are her default mode. In reality, it would take years of hard work for Jessica to be ‘okay” on a sliding scale of ‘okay.” It”s encouraging to know the creators of the show know that too.