Jessica Jones and F*cked-Up Heroines

Photo source: Netflix

Photo source: Netflix

I’ve been hearing about the new Netflix series, “Jessica Jones,” for the last couple of months now. And I. Can’t. Wait. It kind of looks like “Veronica Mars” (which I also loved) meets Marvel. It can’t be a coincidence that Krysten Ritter, who plays Jessica, also played a supporting role on “Veronica Mars,” and returned in the movie last year? No, absolutely not.

But I think what really appeals to me about it is that, just from what I can glean from the trailers and the little bit I’ve read about the character’s backstory in the comics, Jessica seems…incredibly screwed up. Also, incredibly badass.

Exhibit A:

Did she just take out a bar full of huge, drunken men; turn on Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation”; and take a shot while her knuckles were still covered in blood??? Oh yeah, I think she did.

Exhibit B:

Note the whiskey bottle on the nightstand. Also, I kind of want to do that to my alarm clock every day. Of course, my alarm clock doesn’t go off at 3:00 in the afternoon. (I’m also loving the dissonance between the sickly sweet song and the clock smashing. Awesome.)

Of course, there’s also David Tennant, which always helps…

Yes, he’s the bad guy, but even in this voiceover he’s still almost unbearably sexy. And is it weird that I half expected him to offer to whisk Jessica off in the TARDIS to see all of time and space? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

But I think one of the biggest reasons this series appeals to me is because it seems, more often than not, that heroines have to be perfect and likeable all the time. I do believe that imperfect or unlikeable female characters have a harder time being accepted in our cultural landscape than male ones, and it bothered me.

The Demon Within is coming out in less than seven months now, and it has one of those imperfect heroines. Dale is, quite frankly, really screwed up, and I spend so much time in her head that I forget sometimes just how screwed up she is. She blacks out and kills people. And even if it’s people who, arguably, “deserve” it, normal, psychologically healthy people don’t do this, because we realize it’s not the way to live in a  functional society. And instead of facing the music the first time she killed–when she was still a minor and might have gotten off easier–she changed identities and went on the run, avoiding the law for more than a decade and killing six more people.

In spite of all this, I find Dale to be, at times, both likeable and sympathetic. She wants so badly to be a normal person, but her own mind is out of her control sometimes. On the other hand, she’s got a core of protectiveness for others that she can’t eliminate, and it’s seeing other people being hurt/victimized that trigger her blackouts.

But ever since I wrote the first draft, I worried that readers would have a hard time accepting a character like Dale.

But seeing the trailers for “Jessica Jones”–just the fact that this show exists–shows me that maybe there’s room for characters like Dale: fundamentally flawed, fucked-up, and female.

PS: Can I say that I’m absolutely loving the depiction of NYC shown in the below teaser. It reminds me a lot of Sin City, but a little more cartoon-y. Not quite realistic but totally atmospheric. It seems like the creators realize NYC can be a character in and of itself.

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