Are there limitations of how the format should be for super hero television shows?

by Rey Galvan (Staff Writer) – 12/21/15


Netflix added a brand new Marvel Studios television series to its catalog last month. Titled Jessica Jones, the show takes on a dark side with explicit television that many people might or might not be a fan of. Traditionally, Marvel television shows have stayed on the family friendly side in their material while some remain a bit dark. Jessica Jones may be that show that breaks those barriers, but the question is whether it is appropriate and if showing explicit content actually fits a superhero driven show.21

Let’s briefly recap the first season so far to give a taste at what the plot is. Jessica Jones, played by Krysten Ritter, is a fallen hero who finds herself trying to become accustomed to life as a private investigator. She is forced to revisit her past as a puppet to the show’s villain, Kilgrave (played by Doctor Who’s David Tennant), when he is involved with a person’s disappearance. Kilgrave is revealed to have the ability of mind control, and Jessica Jones was a victim of it before. In fact, she did dark deeds for him before managing to escape him. In doing so, she develops PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and develops a strained relationship with her step sister Trish (played by Transformers’ Rachael Taylor). Throughout the season, she attempts to take down Kilgrave, which only causes more problems for her while she tries to prove her client Hope’s innocence. Hope was the missing girl who Kilgrave was involved with. Jessica finds her, but Kilgrave manages to have Hope kill her parents which sets the plot in place.

From the very beginning, Jessica Jones is very different from anything that Marvel has created in terms of television. In the beginning of the pilot, it opens up with a couple hooking up, which is the first clue for parents to not allow children to watch the show. In fact, Jessica Jones creator Melissa Rosenberg explained to The Hollywood Reporter that she was aiming to stay true to the dark and mature adult content of the comic series, “That was probably one of the reasons that it didn’t end up on ABC. Because the book itself, the source material, is dark; that’s what attracted me to her. From the very start with it, I was like, I want to do this tone. I want to stay true to this tone and then go even further with it if I can.”

While this may not seem explicit enough for some people, the content gets more mature once the season progresses. Jessica Jones meets Luke Cage (played by Mike Colter) and after a round of shots they hook up. While traditional television would show just a few kisses and the screen goes black, this does not occur. In fact, the sex scenes are very explicitly shown, more than any other Marvel TV show that has been seen.

Language is also another form of how explicit the show is. The main protagonist spits out all types of expletives that many parents wouldn’t be happy to have their children hear. However, in a weird way, it does work for Jessica Jones. It works for her because it’s part of her personality. She has this attitude where she doesn’t care about what others think and in a way is very pessimistic. Not only that, but it also creates a sense of what world she grew up in and how it shaped her attitude.

One of the things that might set fans off the edge is the amount of gore presented. While things might not get too gory in each and every episode, the antagonist takes things to the next level for our favorite characters. One of the upcoming episodes in the season is when Carrie Ann Moss’ character, Jeri Hogarth, was stabbed a thousand cuts by her vengeful ex because of Kilgrave. Kilgrave’s mind control holds the most twisted and gory actions that make the show wildly different.

Jessica Jones may be explicit, but it does so in an interesting and entertaining way. Jessica Jones proves that people superhero shows can take on any format including an explicit one while also proving it can be appropriate.