In season 2, Jessica Jones became more of a superhero show – but that’s not exactly a good thing

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No, Kilgrave – and, indeed, the first season of Jessica Jones as a whole – worked because there was a certain truth to him. The character served as part of Jessica Jones’ exploration of rape culture, of pervasive and insidious attitudes that can be observed in real life. A lot of the drama and tension comes from the fact that audiences are familiar with him, and those like him, both on a diegetic and extra-diegetic level; there’s something recognisable about Kilgrave, something that maps onto real life experiences.

Across season 2, we follow our eponymous hero as she’s drawn deeper and deeper into a convoluted conspiracy, uncovering information about the shady organisation that are responsible for her powers. It’s something that Jessica Jones isn’t particularly well suited to: the conspiracy angle is weak, and the return of a key character from Jessica’s past marks a genre shift that the show can’t sustain. In essence, it’s because little of this is analogous to real experiences. A huge amount of the strength of Jessica Jones previously came from its ability to use the trappings of the superhero genre to tell a story about trauma and surviving abuse; here, it’s weighed down by old tropes and familiar archetypes. Where the fantasy angle of Kilgrave’s powers was used to great effect to tell a story about genuine human experiences, that’s not the case in season 2.

Very heavy spoilers for Jessica Jones series 2 here, particularly after episode six – wouldn’t recommend reading it until you’ve seen the whole season, personally.

Not sure I quite got this article right – often the way when you’re writing quickly to meet a deadline, moreso after having binge-watched something. (One day, I should write about my growing disdain for binge-watching television programmes. It’s often a necessary evil of my job – gotta get the clicks within the optimal search hours – but I do think that television criticism, and actually in a broader sense television viewing, suffers from binge-watching.)

Anyway, though, this article. It perhaps might have been better titled “Jessica Jones loses sight of human experiences”, or words to that effect. In short, my feelings are that the best parts of Jessica Jones season 1 were the moments when it was least like a superhero show – when it reflected real life, even if only in an allegorical sense. The fact that it’s increasingly like a fairly over-the-top and convoluted superhero show in S2 was a bit disappointing – it felt like a genre shift in a show that didn’t need one. (Again, I have fairly complex thoughts on “superhero” as a genre definition, but that’s for another time.)

Still! I hope you like this article – or, if not the article itself, at least the basic gist of the ideas that are going on within it. Let me know in the comments below what you think!

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The problem with poor pacing, and increasingly overlong television

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Having a more flexible runtime makes sense – generally speaking, the traditional forty-five-ish minute slot for a drama or the twenty-five-ish minute slot for comedy are fairly arbitrary ideas imposed by the demands of advertisers rather than anything else. There’s nothing inherent to the stories that dictate they hold this structure, so the opportunity to be a little bit more malleable and adaptable can be worth pursuing.

Yet it’s debatable whether this approach is really effective, and whether the freedom that’s been allowed has ultimately been a good thing. There’s an argument to be made that, over the past few years, it’s led to a slew of poorly paced television series; slow and plodding, not using their runtime effectively. It’s not so much that a serial has to be filled with incident, but that there’s a sense that not every minute has to be earned in the way that perhaps it used to be – in turn leading to more meandering, more superfluous storytelling.

This article brought to you by the hour I spent watching the first episode of Seven Seconds, though could just have easily been brought to you by the interminable thirteen hours spent on Jessica Jones series 2.

A while ago, I changed up my approach with how I write about television; I decided, basically, that I was only going to write about a show when I’d seen the entire thing. Just a different way of looking at it, taking the series more holistically basically, and a way to stop myself getting too complacent – after a while, I figure I’ll probably switch it up again.

But anyway, this led to a lot of Netflix binge-watching, which was always frustrating – with the above Seven Seconds, ten episodes totalled around eleven hours entirely (there was one episode which was seventy-five minutes long, which is pretty much never necessary) and it worked out that if I watched all ten episodes, then spent another three hours or so writing an article on the show, my final pay would work out as less than minimum wage. Which I was not wholly impressed by. So I wrote this article about why TV episodes are too long instead. Though admittedly I’d probably mind less if I was paid more. So, you know.

(Some months later, a more well established TV critic, the name of whom escapes me, wrote something similar titled something to the effect of “overly long episodes are the TV equivalent of manspreading”, which is a much better title than mine. Made me laugh, anyway.)

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Marvel’s The Punisher was surprisingly good, if not exactly great

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As an exploration of the Punisher’s morality, the series is admittedly somewhat lacking. The villains of the piece reflect the same ideology as Frank; both the larger military-industrial machine willing to commit war crimes and an individual lone gunman who believes the end justifies the means, the antagonists of this series are Frank’s equal and opposite. And yet while the series deliberates, it’s unwilling to truly grapple with the question of what separates them – ultimately, the only thing that makes one a hero and the other a villain is who the series is named after.

Despite this, though, The Punisher is able to find a degree of depth elsewhere. Encouragingly, it avoids fetishizing violence particularly, wallowing not in a hail of bullets and gunfire but taking the time to indulge in slower, character-focused scenes. Jon Bernthal’s performance is key to this, anchoring the material as he elevates it; often the more compelling aspects of the series are the moments when Bernthal is allowed to move beyond the militaristic posturing and show a certain vulnerability to his character.

In hindsight, I wonder if I was actually too positive here – in my surprise that it wasn’t worse, I was maybe too forgiving of all the ways it was still pretty bad. Definitely, that line about fetishizing gun violence should have been way more heavily caveated.

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Amber Rose Revah on Marvel’s The Punisher, her character Dinah Madini, and more

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The key theme of what it is to be a human being is always relevant. Our passions, whether love or hate, forgiveness or revenge, are all part of the puzzle of our lives. We live in a confusing world, filled with uncertainty and tension, and need to shed some light on the issues we all face. 

Here’s my interview with Amber Rose Revah, one of the stars of The Punisher. This was an email interview, so the answers are a little shorter than they’d normally be; I think had it been over the phone, or in person, I’d have pushed a little harder for a proper answer to the question about gun violence.

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What is the place of a Punisher TV show in 2017?

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This discussion has started because of the Las Vegas shooting – the deadliest shooting in modern American history, coming just 476 days after the previous deadliest shooting in modern American history – but it’d be one worth having regardless. On average, there’s a mass shooting every nine out of ten days in America; Punisher exists in a cultural context that makes the character, if nothing else, an uncomfortable reflection of a very real and very present problem.

All of that said: What’s the place of a Punisher TV show in 2017? From the optics to the thematic content – how is a lone-wolf vigilante, taking the law into his own hands to murder those he deems guilty, a straightforward protagonist?

An article I wrote a while back about The Punisher, and just what the place of such a programme is in an era of mass shootings. When it came to actually reviewing the show, I think I was a little too kind to it – surprised, mainly, that it wasn’t worse, I mostly let it off easy. But I still think, though, that The Punisher show was misconceived on pretty much every level, and the lack of nuance inherent to its treatment of an increasingly murky premise is little more than an ethical lapse, frankly.

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The Defenders is less a story, and more a drawn out contractual obligation

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It’s not so much that The Defenders is bad, exactly. Bits of it are quite good. The leads are, if nothing else, good at their job and keep the show afloat even as the script drags it down. Equally, though, it has to be said – it takes a special kind of programme to waste Sigourney Weaver. At the end of the day, there’s never really a sense that someone went into this with a story they wanted to tell, or any particular vision they wanted to realise.

Me on The Defenders, which I found quite disappointing on the whole.

Actually, “disappointing on the whole” is being far too kind – wasn’t it just staggeringly bad? Quite apart from the fact it managed to waste Sigourney Weaver (!!!) it moved at an absolutely glacial pace while still doing very little. One of the big things that stood out to me, actually, was that it couldn’t find the time for a scene between Matt and Claire, despite how important they’d been to one another in Daredevil. Just such a lack of focus on or interest in the characters (to say of nothing of moments of outright sloppiness, like poorly staged fight scenes and tonally mismatched musical cues), it was ultimately pretty substanceless.

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Costume designer Stephanie Maslansky on The Defenders, how to break into the industry, and more

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[Conveying character and theme] is the main job of a costume designer. We carefully read the script and have many meetings where we discuss ideas. Essentially you want to convey a character’s present, as well as the past and even some of the future. Color and texture is important as well as silhouette. Economic status, state of mind, state of health, country of origin, political leanings—these are some of the many notions to be conveyed through costume.

An interview I did recently with Stephanie Maslansky – she told me a few interesting things about Sigourney Weaver’s character in The Defenders, as well as some great tips on how to become a costume designer!

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Who is Sigourney Weaver playing in The Defenders?

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We’re not far from the debut of Netflix’s superhero team up extravaganza, The Defenders. It’s set to unite Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, bringing each one together from their own shows to fight a new evil that threatens New York. 

We know a lot about the different characters, of course – we’ve seen their respective shows. But what about Sigourney Weaver’s new villain? Who’s she going to play? Here’s a look at some of the theories, ideas, and persistent rumours surrounding the role…

A little bit of speculation about Sigourney Weaver’s character in the upcoming Marvel series, The Defenders…

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The Defenders catch-up: What happened in Luke Cage?

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We’re not far from the debut of Netflix’s superhero team up extravaganza, The Defenders. It’s set to unite Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, bringing each one together from their own shows to fight a new evil that threatens New York.

There’s just one problem though – what if you can’t remember what happened in the other shows? It’s been a while, after all, and you probably don’t have the time to binge watch them all ahead of The Defenders. No need to worry – here’s your explanation of everything that happened in Luke Cage

Here’s a summary of what happened in Luke Cage, how it ended, and any unresolved plot threads that might show up in The Defenders

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The Defenders catch-up: What happened in Jessica Jones?

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We’re not far from the debut of Netflix’s superhero team up extravaganza, The Defenders. It’s set to unite Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, bringing each one together from their own shows to fight a new evil that threatens New York.  

There’s just one problem though – what if you can’t remember what happened in the other shows? It’s been a while, after all, and you probably don’t have the time to binge watch them all ahead of The Defenders’ August 18th broadcast date. No need to worry – here’s your explanation of everything that happened in Jessica Jones…

Here’s a summary of Jessica Jones, which was the best of all the Marvel superhero shows. This one is absolutely, completely, worth the watch.

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