Jessica Jones – Literary Magic, but is it right for TV?

So as an avid Marvel Comics (and thus Marvel Studios) fan, I excitedly jumped into Jessica Jones the day it was released through Netflix on November 20th. Somehow, even with real life and two kids, I managed to plow through all 13 episodes over the weekend, and came away satisfied.

Well, relatively satisfied.

I’m a writer, so even when it comes to television I try to look at things from a writer’s perspective, and if Jessica Jones were a novel, I think it would have been truly fantastic. It has the ebbs and flows of a novel, very strong characters, a solid (if somewhat predictable) plot, and several twists and turns.

But does that make it a great TV show?

I found myself wondering this as I was plodding through episodes 5 – 8, which were good, but not great, an unfortunate blip on the radar of what was a really captivating series up until that point. In those particular episodes it seemed as if the writers were trying to establish a new status quo, while in nearly every episode changing the status quo. It was really bizarre, and part of it made me wonder if the series was a bit too “chopped up” into 60 minute bite sized chunks.

Even on Netflix where you can plow through a 13 episode season over a weekend they still make television decisions where certain elements need to be wrapped up by the end of that mythical 60 minute endpoint. It felt like, as a result of that, some of the dynamic between Killgrave and Jessica Jones was spotty at best in the middle part of the series. I’m trying not to get into spoiler territory, but it’s obvious that the writers were trying to give a sense of forced co-existence with the two characters, yet it felt like they couldn’t quite figure out how they should co-exist. And the result is a series that bogged down somewhat in the middle, and clearly showed that the main heroine ultimately made a number of wrong choices that cost people their lives.

I think in the context of a novel, where these things can be told in a much more fluid state this could have been immensely successful and powerful. However, as the TV show went on, those 60 minute breaks felt a bit too jarring, especially as the writers tried to move on to the next stage of the story.

That’s not to say the series wasn’t good. It was really great, actually. Looking at the full 13 episode run as a whole, it’s an incredibly satisfying film noir look at an underrated corner of the Marvel Universe, and I found myself extremely attached to the characters and their stories. the Killgrave/Jessica Jones dynamic wasn’t perfect and left me a bit cold in some places, but ultimately it was a great series. Not perfect, but great.

But, hey, they can’t all be Daredevil, right?

Check out Jessica Jones on Netflix and decide for yourself!


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