Saturday, December 5, 2015

Jessica Jones is my Spirit Animal

I'm giving this post a subtitle:
AKA Why it's so Important that Jeri Hogarth is an Evil Dyke.
Hang on! I can explain.

First, some business. This article will be discussing the new Netflix original series Jessica Jones, featuring the Marvel superhero of that name. On November 20 Netflix premiered the entire first season of the series, to widespread critical acclaim and endless fangirl slobbering (half of that mine.) 

There have been many, many, many good reviews and articles written about the series so far. This one does a good job discussing the show in relation to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, including the movies. This one is a beautifully done critical look at just the second episode of the season (I recommend keeping an eye on that blog and reading the articles on every episode). This is a powerful article all about how the show represents misogyny. I've read articles about how Jessica Jones discusses PTSD, why rape apologists need to watch the show (and what they can learn from it), and on and on and on.

Clearly, Jessica Jones is onto something.

This show means a lot of things to a lot of people. It means so very much to me. It's just so very brave in the way that it takes an unflinching look at a lot of very dark realities. But when I decided to write about the show, I thought I would focus on something Jessica Jones does quietly. Because in this particular instance, it's what isn't said that is so important.

I'm talking about Jeri Hogarth, of course.

The Jessica Jones character (and associated story) wasn't created for the Netflix series. She started as a comic book character, and, of course, the comic is where all the secondary characters first breathed life as well. Only some of the characters were a bit...tweaked...for the television show. When Jeri Hogarth was first conceived, his name was Jeryn Hogarth and he was a straight white male.

Why was Jeryn changed to Jeri for the netflix show? I don't know, and I don't care. What impresses me so much about the character, is the ways in which her different character traits are and aren't played up.

So let's take a moment and address Jeri Hogarth's character traits.

Aspects of Jeri Hogarth's character that are played up in the show:
  1. Cunning
  2. Narcissism
  3. Wealth & power
  4. Cutthroat lawyer-y-ness
  5. Intelligence
  6. Confidence
  7. Reluctant respect of Jessica Jones

Aspects of Jeri Hogarth's character that are NOT played up in the show:

  1. The fact that she's a lesbian

Seriously. Jeri Hogarth is a lesbian. Not only that, but during the season we see her having an affair with her secretary and dealing with the subsequent messy divorce from her wife. And despite all of that, the fact that she's a lesbian is not a topic of discussion. Her sexuality is not a plot in the storyline. How Jeri handles her business and her relationships is a plotline, but not the fact that she sleeps with women. Because why the fuck should it be?

It's 2015. Jeri Hogarth is not the first openly lesbian character in a TV show. But the writers of Jessica Jones managed to do something with this character that is so breathtaking and rare: they portrayed a powerful lesbian woman struggling with her personal life in a way that doesn't focus solely on the gender of her spouse.

 This is so important and so unusual that I want to make that point again, a different way:

Viewers of Jessica Jones watched Jeri Hogarth cheat on her wife, file for divorce, get attacked by her wife, and ultimately watch in horror as her mistress killed her wife, but the discussion was never about the fact that Wendy is a woman and has a vagina.

Ladies and gentleman, this is the way to write gay characters. As characters. Because when we see Jessica and Luke get it on, the discussion is about Jessica and Luke not about their genitals. That's fucking parity. And that's fucking beautiful.

1 comment:

  1. A different look at Jessica Jones from the view of a supporting cast member. I have read many of the articles out there on Jessica Jones and I have seen only one other I think on Jeri Hogarth. Nice take.