Jessica Jones season 2: classic case of season 2 fatigue, but what happened to the feminism?

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.


Jessica Jones season 2

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
  • Intersectional
  • 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.”Jessica Jones season 2

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.

Jessica Jones season 2

Stranger Things have happened

So, did it shape up to last season? Am I going to go all feminist on this shit? Do I want to BE Winona Ryder? Stay tuned.

In all truthfulness, up until now all my blog posts have been filler posts.

My whole year has been a filler post as I anxiously awaited Stranger Things season 2 – it’s safe to say there have been points where I have neared the level of mania I had for shows back in 2010-2012. The Stranger Things obsession has been real my pals.

I’m not sure what it is I love about it so much. The 80’s nostalgia for a time I wasn’t even alive for? A little bit. The sci-fi soft-horror? Sure. The music? Yes, of course. The beautiful friendships of all kinds, but particularly of the younger characters? Fuck yes.

I have a massive soft spot for the portrayal of all kinds of relationships and bonds, and Stranger Things really excels with that. It also portrays a level of innocence and geekiness that has its own sort of nostalgia. The kind that isn’t tied to any generation – we can all sort of relate to that feeling of kinship, spare time, and feeling pretty out of place.

So anyway, season 2 – I was pumped. And if you’re reading this then you probably have at least some small level of interest in what I thought about it, so here it is.

I had a lot of expectations for this season. I knew that there would be new characters introduced to the narrative, and that there would be a widening of the universe which in season 1 was almost exclusively confined to Hawkins.

Season 1 was easy. There were good people, and there were bad people. Probably the only person that blurred the lines was Steve Harrington, but even when you hated him you still sort of rooted for him – and you didn’t hate him for long.

It had a small world and tight knit groups, and I knew that in season 2 this would need to be broadened. And yet I still expected it to be about the group having a close bond, and recognising that they’re stronger together.

After all – and the show acknowledges this – they each experienced a large amount of trauma which often brings people together.

I was so excited to see the team together, but we started where we pretty much started in season 1. Nancy and Mike fighting. Eleven on her own. The boys arguing over a girl. And a love triangle between Steve, Nancy, and Jonathan.

But… I kind of get it. It made sense to the narrative, and although it broke my heart to watch the boys keep secrets from each other and distrust each other, I got why it was happening.

Because it was still Stranger Things. The soundtrack was on point as always (although, and I know they did it in season 1, but I wished they would play Toto Africa again cus that is just such a Mood), as well as the cinematography and costume design.

All that aside, I felt that this season took us to a newer, darker place than the first season – and not in the way I expected.

I expected the monsters to get darker, the risks to get riskier, and the deaths to be gorier, but I didn’t expect what else we got.

Although it didn’t do so very overtly, this season did actually deal with themes of racism and sexism – and in fact, homophobia (very lightly). I’m not saying we should start lauding it as the most progressive show of our time, but something that was definitely lacking in the previous season was an acknowledgement that the 80’s weren’t just a fun, wacky dressed, nostalgic and pre-internet era for everyone. For some people it was tougher than that.

So yeah, this season gave it a shot. A really weak shot – and if we’re going to use the baseball metaphor Ted and Steve both use – Stranger Things is still pretty much sitting on the bench. But it gave it a shot.

Max’s brother (aka Evil Zac Efron™) had a level of prejudice against Lucas he didn’t have towards the other boys – this wasn’t overt racism, but I think we all got the drift.

We also see more of Ted being a shitty complacent husband to Mrs. Wheeler. As well as Max and Billy’s father showing an almost overt form of toxic masculinity, which not only affects his sons inward and outward emotions, but also forces his wife into submission.

It was like Social Commentary Lite™ – like if social commentary were a full fat yoghurt, but Stranger Things were on a diet. And while that’s some Bullshit, I really do have faith that next season will be even better. The actor who plays Mike (potentially our main male protagonist), has shown himself to be a lot more progressive and socially aware than many of his older peers, and that sort of attitude doesn’t go unnoticed.

Netflix is in the unique position where, unlike its network cousins, it doesn’t have to worry about as many stakeholders. Stakeholders, such as advertisers, are one of the main things that prevent network television from being able to be socially progressive. Netflix is a unique forum which doesn’t rely on any ads – greatly reducing the number of stakeholders.

It should be doing better.

If young actors like Finn Wolfhard continue to fight back, there may just be a change, and I have faith that it will happen before season 3 – or maybe I just hope.

But I digress. This season certainly had its failings – the entirety of episode 7 being the biggest one. Like, wow that episode was some trash, try harder next time.

But the other big issue was its major attempts at love triangles. There were only 3 women in this show (bar every mother except Will’s, all of which played a very minor part) that were main characters, and each of them were entangled in a version of a love triangle. And Max was in more than one for Christ’s sake.

Eleven – Mike – Max.

Dustin – Max – Lucas.

Steve – Nancy – Jonathan.

Hopper – Joyce – Bob.

Like, I get it. The Duffer Brothers couldn’t write enough women for the show, which meant that there weren’t enough women to fulfil the hetero-normative needs for each male in the show.

Totally.

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But what the fuck. Was this really necessary? I’ve said it before – love triangles are one of the weakest methods of emotional writing you can employ, and I despise them.

Love triangles only work to simplify the emotional responses of every character involved, and usually they just work to exemplify the males need to “own” a woman.

Like, where ma polyamorous relationships at? I would’ve loved if Steve – Nancy – Jonathan had ended in a polyamorous relationship – instead it just ended in me crying over Steve being lonely.

And then there’s Max. Man, I was so excited for Max. Another female character? Amazing. A girl who skates and calls the boys out on their shit? Inspired. Like, a whole other female character? Colour me pumped.

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But she wasn’t written like a real person???? She was either a prize to be won by Dustin or Lucas, or she was an inconvenience to the predetermined group, and plot. She deserved a lot better than this, and I hope that in season 3 she gets some actual characterisation and storylines.

But that brings me to the wins.

Firstly, all of episode 8 and 9. My tears were flowing like the Cancer trash I am.

The unity and solidarity was heart-wrenching – in a good way – and it showed the complexities of friendships that the other episodes failed to do.

My heart was ripped entirely in half watching Mike try to reach El on the walkie-talkie. That is romance my friends holy wow.

My dreams came true when we got to see the Snow Ball, and although they very heavily shoehorned Will having a girl to dance with (don’t get me wrong, he deserves love, but ??? it didn’t make sense), and it was heartbreaking to see Dustin turned down by everyone except Nancy who pity-danced with him, my heart truly soared when Mike and Eleven were dancing.

I waited so long to see this damn child romance at the Snow Ball, and my tears were both happy and sad at what the two had been through.

At the end of it all, all I can really say is, this is still my favourite show (despite the mess in episode 7), and these child actors still blow me away with their talent.

I’m once more anxiously waiting for the next season, where I hope to GOD the Duffer Brothers don’t think that splitting the team up or shoehorning love triangles is a good idea.

Also final note, I hope we still have Steve in the #squad, even if he’ll be at college and isn’t dating Nancy and is probably alone, heartbroken, and eating his feelings…

#justiceforSteve