Jessica Jones season 2 is finally here – so what does my feminist ass think about it?
It’s an undeniable fact that I loved season 1 of Jessica Jones – in fact, it was the first blog I wrote.
So it was with a lot of jumping up and down, squealing, and Jim Beam pouring that I sat down to watch season 2 on Friday. I love film noir. I love superheroes. I love feminism. I love ladies kicking ass. I love Jessica Jones.
I was a bit nervous though – Kilgrave was a hard act to follow, and I was worried the show would suffer from the same season 2 fatigue that Daredevil did. In some ways I was right, and in some ways, I was wrong.
It was still much better than season 2 of Daredevil, but the narrative was a little bit all over the place. It kept changing pace and you felt a little bit exhausted by all the changes in direction. All the characters were heading off in different directions, and they never seemed to come back together again – and in fact they never did. Ending a season on a cliffhanger is by no means a bad thing (see: Westworld, Dirk Gently, every season of B99, you get the picture). But when I season ends with a feeling of dissatisfaction and a question of what did we even achieve here, it becomes very… meh.
It was still really interesting, but it wasn’t anything to write home about – or on my blog about.
What I found really interesting was this season’s approach to feminism. Or its many approaches. Or its lack of approaches.
The basis of season 1 feminism was easy:
- Badass female kicking butt
- An anti-rape narrative supporting victim experiences
- Showing off the many ways women can be cool
- Fuck you rapists
Pretty basic stuff, but all very good.
Season 2 didn’t seem to see things that way, and in fact already in the first episode things became difficult – it started with Jeri.
She’s just won her award and her co-workers continue to berate her because she’s only just won a case against her ex-assistant for sexual assault. Jeri argues back that her assistant was a consenting adult and it shouldn’t matter anyway because “you’ve seen the way she dressed.”
Um. Jeri. Sweetie, no.
Of course, victim blaming happens, and it can happen from women. I don’t mind that this interaction happened – I just wish it had been acknowledged and Jeri had been corrected.
The show acknowledged gross undertones when men said them, such as Pryce’s “I never take no for an answer” being shot down as “rapey”, so why not Jeri’s?
The show further fails to fully acknowledge or call out other sexist behaviours and tropes, by continuing to have Jeri use vulnerable women to her advantage. Yes, Jeri is a bad person, we all know this. But why doesn’t Jessica call her out on it? Or anyone else? The longstanding idea that showing bad behaviour is enough to help audiences understand that it is morally wrong – but any conversation with a dudebro whose favourite film is Fight Club could tell you it rarely works out that way.
One of the more disturbing parts of the shows sexist narratives that didn’t come to a satisfying end was that of Maximilian’s sexual abuse of Trish when she was 15. Yes, he does get thoroughly shaken up by Jessica, but nothing felt resolved. They got what they wanted out of him and that was it. Has Trish dealt with her pain? Will Maximilian be publicly shamed and removed from Hollywood despite them promising they would keep quiet if he helped them? Where’s the #MeToo movement solidarity here? Jessica didn’t even rip one of his limbs off so what the hell?!
Do these issues make the show overtly sexist? Absolutely not, in fact it’s still an inherently feminist show, but it sure does take something away from the message.
I come to Jessica Jones for retribution. For a violent, unforgiving takedown of the patriarchy – where was that? This season was muddy, unfocussed, and lacking direction at many points, and because of this, so many narrative points seem lost and unresolved.
It wasn’t horrible, but for season 3 I hope to God it involves the group coming back together again, fighting a single bad guy (who is a Sexist Dickbag (also no more bad guy switcheroos, I’m tired Netflix, I’m tired)), and for Maximilian to have his nuts chopped off and hung where the whole world can see.
I want blood.