I know, I know, I’m really late to the party on this one, bearing in mind Jessica Jones was released in 2015. Sorry folks. I had started watching it last January, and found it a bit too intense. But then, about ten days ago, for some unknown reason, I picked it back up. I was hooked.
Fair warning, it’s intense, full of potential triggers and absolutely insane. And yet, something about these superhuman characters (or “gifted” as they’re constantly described) is so human. There’s pain, grief, loss, rejection, fear, anger – intense, but a masterclass in acting from all the leads.
I think my favourite part about Jessica Jones, apart from being a sassy woman in her 30s, who doesn’t take any crap, is that she’s one of very few depictions of PTSD experiences in television. She’s also one of very few lead characters (eponymous, even) with a mental health issue that doesn’t define her, but plays a very active role in her life. On numerous occasions we see her reciting street names as a coping mechanism when she’s been triggered (usually by the sight of Kilgrave, her controlling and, frankly, psychotic rapist).
When my doctor suggested I had PTSD, it was the first time in my mental health “journey” (I hate the word, but it’s probably an accurate description) that I felt ashamed of my diagnosis. Please note, no one should ever feel ashamed of who they are, or what they suffer with, but it was the first time I felt genuine unease. I don’t mind talking to people about my anxiety, my bouts of depression or my panic attacks. But when it came to PTSD (which is a fairly accurate summation of the flashbacks and triggered panic attacks) I didn’t like sharing it. In my head, PTSD was something associated with the military. Service men and women, who had seen horrible things, experienced true trauma and fought for their country – that’s who gets PTSD, right? Not a teenager from a more-than-happy background who’s biggest problem was the suicide of a friend and being in love with an alcoholic.
I know, I’m trivialising. But in my head, I had no right to have that diagnosis. And I think that’s one of the reasons Jessica Jones resonated with me so much. Jessica has no military background – her trauma was Kilgrave. He put her through hell, controlled and manipulated, made her do things against her will, and she has PTSD. We accept it as part of her character, as see her struggle with it on a daily basis. It’s a very positive representation of it too – Jessica is a hero, or at the very least, tries to be.
I’ll be totally honest, I was mildly upset when Kilgrave died. Don’t get me wrong, he was the most despicable of villains, truly evil. We’d seen him get people to kill themselves, brutally, a literal path of corpses in his wake. Even his own parents?! *shudder* But David Tennant delivered Kilgrave so perfectly, that it’s difficult not to think that Jessica Jones might not quite be the same without him.
The supporting cast have their own array of issues too, which makes for great viewing. Somewhere hidden, Trish has a history of drug addiction, and probably some form of eating disorder (there’s one scene where her mother tries to force her to make herself sick). Luke (sexy, hunky Luke) Cage is a grieving widower, after his wife was murdered by Jessica. [yes, I know Luke has his own series now too, I’ll probably get to that soon…]
And then the characters Kilgrave actually let survive? Simpson who takes crazy drugs that turn him into a nutjob, Malcolm who was forced to take actual drugs but is now clean, Jeri who’s ex-wife was murdered by her girlfriend…yeah that one’s a whole different ballpark.
As far as characterisation goes, Jessica Jones is one of the best things I’ve seen in a long while. In fact, as far as plot, effects, stunts, gore, humour, backdrop, everything goes, Jessica Jones is one of the best things I’ve seen in a long while. If you haven’t managed to catch it yet, I’d fully recommend it. HOWEVER. Bearing in mind this is under a mental health tag, I also have to say that there will be potential triggers in the series for:
- Sexual assault
- Domestic/emotional abuse