Jessica Jones season 2 arrived yesterday on Netflix, and, once again, it proved just what girl power looks like.
By that, I don’t just mean the fact that Jessica is physically strong because of course, she is very strong, I mean that Jessica Jones is strong as a series because it breaks every stereotype female characters are shoe-horned into. And that is something that is desperately needed right now.
First of all, the show is named after it’s female lead, and there is no fixed lead male. The first season featured David Tennant as the male lead villain, who played a huge part in the storyline, and in Jessica’s origins, but this season, there is no lead male character. There are male side characters who are important to the storyline, but the show focuses on Jessica and her adoptive sister, Trish.
On top of that, every single episode of this season was directed by a woman. To me, that is revolutionary. So many directors are male, they dominate the industry, but Marvel decided to have an entire series directed by women, and as you watch, you can tell.
Want to know how you can tell that Jessica Jones is directed exclusively by women?
There are no gratuitous topless shots of women. Not one. Not a single one. Not in any sex scene (of which there are a couple) or a shower scene, or anything. There is one scene where Jessica is in her underwear, but it was not for her to be seen as ‘sexy,’ or put in for her to be objectified. It’s not shot in a way that says ‘look at the sexy undressed woman,’ it’s shot like any other shot, the actress just happens to be underdressed, and for a reason that makes sense in the story at that point.
And that’s just the tip of the ice burg of equality in this show, there are so many more examples it makes my head spin.
The women in this show are so real, they all have motivations, all have back stories either explored or referenced, all have vices they cannot live without. They are fully fleshed out characters, with no reliance on stereotype. Jessica and Trish are friends, refer to each other as sisters multiple times throughout season 2, even when they argue constantly.
Even their arguments are real. They’re not arguing over a guy or trying to sabotage the other due to jealousy. They’re fighting over things like addiction, about the past Jessica refuses to explore, about family. Even those arguments are from a place of love, it’s never spiteful, or manipulative. You don’t realise how often you see women warring against each other in the media over silly reasons until you watch women fight out of a place of love.
Every episode passes the Bechdel Test, at least twice, if not multiple times. Women talk to each other about illness, about addiction, about solving cases. Yes, they also talk about relationships, but it’s not the only thing they talk about. On top of that, whenever it is revealed that a woman has slept with someone else, there is no ‘slut-shaming,’ or being judged for it. No character is ever shamed for having a relationship.
In fact, no female character is shamed for eating. In any scene involving food, no woman commented on her diet, or their body, or anyone else’s. They ate, and it was a normal thing to do.
Jessica Jones doesn’t just avoid stereotype, it also tackles some hard-hitting topics as well. Topics incredibly relevant for today’s society and today’s current events.
PTSD, rape and abuse are all topics carried over from series one, and will probably continue on into further seasons, as they’re so central to Jessica and Trish’s characters. But what season 2 builds on is rape culture.
From the first episode, Jessica calls out a man when he says that he won’t take no for an answer. This man is never forgiven and is made to be a more minor bad guy for the season. No man is ever allowed to take anything from a woman without retribution in this show, any who try to use, or abuse, any female character is always shown to be in the wrong. While the consequences don’t always fit the crime, the point still stands – no man gets to use a woman without consequences. And the consequences always comes from a woman.
And finally, and most importantly, there is a minor storyline about directors using young girls for sex. It is explicit in its reveal, without showing the actual deed, but it is made very clear that forty-year-old directors coaxing desperate sixteen-year-old actresses into bed was disgusting and deserved to be punished for their actions. Every woman involved in the storyline was in agreement automatically – he was in the wrong, the girl in question was a minor, and was a victim in the situation. There was no discussion between them as to what exactly happened, the victim was immediately believed, the director was not allowed to try and weasel his way out of it.
To say the least, it sends a powerful message to Hollywood and everyone in the film industry. If I’m honest, the entire series, the entire show, is a powerful message to the film industry.
Women are strong, they are powerful, they are diverse, with rich backstories and beautiful friendships. Women can hurt others, but they can also support them and help them through anything. Women can be flawed as people, but they are not to be shamed for their actions.
They are people, and their stories deserve to be written, directed and acted out. People need to see things like this. And they need to take away this message:
Jessica Jones should not be the only TV show out there like this. There should be more holding up these same values. Women are not sex objects or a thing to stereotype. They are real and wonderful, and human. Tell their damn stories, just like you would with any other male character out there.