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

Iron Fist? More like Iron Missed amirite? Come get the Iron Gist guys

Was that a brutal title? I’m not sorry and I’ll never try to pretend I am.

 

Obviously, as always, this is NOT SPOILER FREE.

 

Not that you should care – I don’t want you to watch this anyway.

 

In fact, YOU shouldn’t want you to watch this either. Please, save yourself.

 

Alright, alright Morgan, stop being coy – tell us why you hated it enough to warrant expending extra energy to name and shame this Pretender Defender!

 

Iron FistOk well firstly, I think it’s obvious enough to say that I wasn’t going to enjoy this straight off the bat, based on the fact that although this isn’t technically a whitewashing of a character, it’s certainly still a narrative that appropriates culture in the highest degree

 

Let me paint you a picture here:

 

High flying family gets killed over the Himalayas, the son survives and is raised by monks and trained in kung fu to become the protector of their sacred and spiritual town. This kid is a natural at Chinese martial arts, and harnesses his chi to capture the powers and title of the “Iron Fist”, a kung fu superhero.

Iron Fist

But of course! Duh! This kid is also white, blonde haired, blue eyed – oh, and did I forget to mention the heir of a multi-billion-dollar company in New York?

 

Yeah, not exactly the whitest storyline there until you get to that end bit.

 

But is my issue with Danny Gland himself? No. My issue actually is the fact that Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage etc are not part of the Defenders in the comic books. They were largely given this position in the MNU (is Marvel Netflix Universe a thing? It’s a thing now) because they were UNDERDOGS. And not in the sense that they’ve had their multi-billion dollar business usurped from them while they were training with monks in a magical land (aw, so tuff for Danny L ), but because they were marginalised. Their start in society was tough, and it built them to understand the struggles of the every day New Yorker, to the point where they know who needs help and in what way. They’re our 21st century Defenders, here to understand socio-political issues.

 

So why the fuck did they choose Danny Bland as their next Defender?

 

Let me make this clear. I am not taking issue with the fact that they chose a white male superhero as their next in the line-up.

 

I understand Hollywood. They know who they want to pander to and that’s fine.

 

But why not pick a DIFFERENT white male superhero? One that isn’t appropriating Chinese culture, and being an ignorant, annoying billionaire with questionable shoe choices? It’s not like there’s any shortage.

 

OR alternatively – if you want Chinese culture, why not cast a Chinese superhero? Or even subvert the Iron B-list narrative and cast a Chinese Danny Flan? I mean if we can pull a million reasons out of our ass to cast white people in POC roles, then why can’t it work the other way?

 

I’m kidding. I know why.

 

OK so I hated Danny Ampersand/Iron Cyst from the get go – but Morgan? Why can’t you just look past that and into the eyes of a well-made, well-written, visual masterpiece?

 

WRONG!

 

Ham-handed cultural appropriation aside, this show actually, objectively, fucking sucked.

 

It was painfully slow paced, with things only actually happening in like, episode 7.

There was a shoehorned, forced love story which was, ultimately, completely unnecessary to the storyline.Iron Fist

It seemed to paint a picture of women as cardboard sex or affirmation-bots with little to no personal storylines. In fact, every character was pretty much a cardboard cut out.

Nothing seemed to really happen – ever.

The show couldn’t decide what it was actually about, clunkily moving from dull corporate squabbling, to forced fighting with nameless Chinese villains that was still, somehow, constantly interrupted by people demanding Danny return to the corporate squabbling.

 

But worst of all? This show had no idea who its own bad guy was.

 

First it’s Ward. Then it’s Gao! No wait – it’s definitely Ward. Oops, sorry, it’s actually Harold! Kidding! It’s this sudden newcomer, who only lasts a couple of episodes, Bakuto! SIKE! It’s still Gao! KIDDING AGAIN! It’s actually Davos and Joy! Bitch you thought!!!

 

This show had no solid narrative, and was constantly fighting with itself to decide what it actually was about.

 

The narratives always seemed to last an episode and a half before Danny had moved on to a different one, to the point where there failed to be any over-arching plot other than how hard it was for Danny to be both a woefully underqualified billionaire, and an even less qualified superhero (who never seemed to really ever save anyone?)

 

I mean, in the final two episodes Danny is actually just fighting the fucking DEA???????

 

Listen, this show was a mess. It was a nightmare. And it was damn slow doing it.

 

I swear the only interesting character was Claire Temple – and she was well-established and written many Defenders ago, so I KNOW Rosario Dawson wasn’t about to
let anyone screw with that. Oh, and Jeri was great too, but again, she was already established in her awesomeness by far more proficient writers.Iron Fist

 

So yeah, I guess you could say I hated this show.

 

I know this blog post wasn’t quite an analysis so much as it was just a hateful rant, but again, I’m not gonna pretend I’m sorry.

 

Maybe I can be the consistent adversary Danny Disneyland so desperately needs.

 

Believe me, it’d be my pleasure.