Magazine article Variety

Marvel's Jessica Jones

Magazine article Variety

Marvel's Jessica Jones

Article excerpt

TV REVIEW

Marvel's Jessica Jones

SERIES: Netflix, Friday, Nov. 20

WRITER: Melissa Rosenberg

STARRING: Krysten Ritter, David Tennant

Two mainstays of film noir are the tough-talking dame and the cynical private eye, and one of the pleasures of "Marvel's Jessica Jones" is that it unites both types in one thorny and fascinating character. The show, which features an exceptional performance from Krysten Ritter and sure-handed guidance from executive producer Melissa Rosenberg, is not just a contender for the title of best Marvelrelated TV property; in a supremely crowded TV scene, it is one of the year's most distinctive new dramas.

Conforming to the hallowed traditions of on-screen private eyes through the ages, Jessica's wisecracks and her fondness for the bottle are revealed as attempts to camouflage the pain and guilty memories that claw at the detective's soul. Yet Rosenberg injects enough counterbalancing elements - namely, a smart pace, sharp dialogue and lively supporting performances - to prevent the show from sinking too deeply into darkness.

Like Netflix's "Daredevil," the new drama is part of a cycle of MarvelNetflix shows that will culminate in a "Defenders" team-up down the road. Possibly due to that array of commitments, "Jessica Jones" doesn't spend a great deal of time following its namesake on garden-variety private-eye cases. That may disappoint those who read the well-regarded Brian Michael Bendis comics on which the Netflix series is based, but Bendis is a consultant on this series, and there is much to like about this take on Jessica's superhero story, which allows her to be believably complex, flawed and vulnerable.

One could argue that this Jessica is a bit of an antihero: She makes bad decisions, keeps secrets and isn't especially responsible. But Ritter plays her with such charismatic deftness that the character's mistakes and scars end up being as compelling as her halting attempts to do good and right wrongs. Jessica is damaged, but her refusal to let that damage define her gives the series a core of captivating energy.

Power and control are the show's dominant themes; without giving away too much, Jessica is recovering from a set of experiences that almost destroyed her faith in her ability to set her own course. These elements allow Rosenberg to construct intelligent meditations on the ways women are pressured to conform and sacrifice parts of themselves to avoid being labeled troublemakers. …

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