Name: Jessica Jones
Location: Hell’s Kitchen, New York
Show: Jessica Jones
Actor: Krysten Ritter
I’ve written about Jessica Jones and why I love her so much on this blog before, but I can’t write a series about kickass heroines and not include her. She’s just too awesome. She’s super-strong, can kinda fly and is one of the most independent women on television today. Not only that, she’s an ace-detective, working most of her cases with ease.
All of that sounds like a pretty perky superhero to someone who hasn’t watched her show, but that isn’t the real Jessica.
I could say the real Jessica is the woman who puts protecting herself above others, drinks too much and suffers from pretty severe PTSD. She’s the woman next door that stalks the local bartender and picks fights too easily. She doesn’t play well with others, not even her best friend, Trish, or her neighbour Malcolm, whom she’s barely a friend to at all.
But that isn’t the real Jessica either.
The real Jessica Jones lies somewhere between the two extremes, neither totally heroic or villainous. Neither totally selfish or selfless. She exists in the grey where all the best characters do. She’s someone who has wanted to good, but who has gone through an immense amount of suffering. Therefore she exists purely in survival mode, just trying to get through the day until something bumps her off her path.
At the beginning of Jessica’s titular series, that something’s name is Hope Schlottman, a young girl that Jessica hopes she can prevent from going through the same horror she did. After failing, Jessica desperately tries to right her wrong, and her true strength of character is revealed. She doesn’t want to bring down her aggressor just because he hurt her, she wants to bring him down for all the damage he has done to others. She wants him dead because of all the pain he has caused the people around her and because of all the hurt he could potentially cause others. She never fully exits that grey between hero and survivor, but she certainly has the strength of personality put the wellbeing of others before her own personal safety, even against her better judgement.
Jessica’s better judgement also tells her to cut ties with her best friend and adopted sister, Trish, but it’s something she cannot bring herself to fully do. Prior to the beginning of her series, Jessica has managed to successfully stay away from Trish as to not put her in danger, seriously pissing off her friend in the process. Jessica only contacts her in the first episode to ask for money to flee the man that hurt her, and it’s Trish that reminds Jessica of her true nature, that she will never forgive herself if she allows this new victim to come to harm. When her contact with Trish puts her in danger Jessica instantly shows her true colours. She is the most loyal, strong and protective best friend anyone could ask for, and she values Trish more than she values herself.
In many ways, Jessica’s biggest weakness isn’t her alcoholism or her abrupt and aggressive nature. It’s the fact that once you get past the heroic powers, and the aggression and the sense of self-preservation, you begin to realise that Jessica doesn’t value herself very highly at all. She seems to see herself as weak and worthless, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Even though she doesn’t necessarily see herself that way, Jessica is her own brand of hero. She helps people without realising it and is incredibly important to those close to her. She may not be a traditional superhero, but she is definitely a kickass heroine.
Of course, you can’t talk about kickass heroes and Jessica Jones, without mentioning her best friend Trish. Trish has not only managed to survive being a child star, she’s a successful journalist and more than anything wants to have some positive impact on the world. Oh, and she’s training in krav maga because she wasn’t kickass enough already.