I had serious reservations about Netflix’s new series Jessica Jones. For one, it’s yet another Marvel title, and I’m not a big Marvel fan. It’s not that I dislike all comic book-inspired film and TV. I’m enjoying iZombie, for instance, just as I loved the hell out of Rachel Talalay’s Tank Girl (1995) even though it was little like the comics and panned by critics.
My other big concern for this new series about a superheroic private investigator with lingering PTSD is that it’s being penned by Melissa Rosenberg, the franchise writer for Twilight. She also wrote for Dexter and other dark series, but still. Twilight. More than major ick factor.
But I was lured irretrievably to watch at least the first episode by a combination of factors:
- There are too few superheroines on TV today, and I still miss Xena.
- My husband loves fantasy TV and we love watching something together.
- Friends recommended it.
- And, most of all, the show is being called superhero noir.
(While I might have tempted by learning that David Tennant is playing the series’ villain, Kilgrave, I’m not a huge Tennant fan. Sorry.)
So, given the focus of this blog, the question remains: Is Jessica Jones noir?
My short answer: Yes, or at least an homage. Noir and neo-noir elements include the following:
- Mood music (especially the lonely piano moments) feels noirish, as do opening sketchy images
- Main character (Jessica Jones) is a PI.
- Voiceover narration begins and ends the first episode.
- Jessica lives, like good noir dicks, in a rundown, messy apartment that also serves as her office.
- Jessica drinks hard liquor straight and often.
- She has casual sex.
- Her past is complicated.
- Her cell ring tone sounds like an old school phone.
- She wants to keep control and do the right thing when possible.
- Her superheroic strength gives her the toughness of a noir PI.
I’ll also add that she has black hair, pale skin, and wears black and gray to mimic the black-and-white, light-dark contrasts of noir.
Finally, in a more unique neo-noir twist, her full red lips mean she can be read as symbolizing both the standard detective and the femme fatale at the same time. No small feat.
More generally, I really enjoyed several additional features in the first episode:
- Good writing.
- Tension stayed high all episode.
- Fun to see Carrie-Ann Moss in an engaging role.
- Mike Colter is gorgeous.
My biggest complaint so far is the casting of Krysten Ritter. She looks and acts too young for me to believe anyone would believe she’s an effective private investigator. And she’s too damn tiny and emo looking. I’m really sick of this type. My husband suggested Carrie-Ann Moss could do more with the role, and I’m inclined to agree.
That said, I’m watching, and I’m hoping it’ll grow on me even more in time. If not, The Man in the High Castle and the new season of Transparent will keep me busy!