English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Author: John Ryu

Jessica Jones’ Impact on the World

Review of Entire 2 seasons of Jessica Jones:

Jessica Jones is widely known as an unconventional, revolutionary TV show for its lead female character and predominantly female production crew. In addition to these accomplishments, Jessica Jones has also tackled major real-world issues that has left its mark on the world.

One particular issue is rape. After season 1 ended, the #MeToo movement began, and Jessica Jones did not shy away from addressing issues regarding rape head-on. Season 2 asked very important questions. What does sexual assault mean, and what does it do? Why does it leave the wrong person ashamed and everybody silent?”

Interestingly enough, season 1 also deals with these issues even though it was shot before the #MeToo movement began. During this season, Jessica Jones’ main conflict was with a man with mind-controlling powers called Kilgrave. It was this conflict that the show used to define what mind-control really meant which connected to issues such as sexual assault. In one particular example, during a scene where Jessica was accusing Kilgrave of his crimes, Kilgrave defends himself by stating that “Jessica Jones had previously had dinner with the accused…”, and Kilgrave followed the comment with “we used to do a lot more than just touch hands.” Jessica immediately responds to this by saying, “Yeah. It’s called rape”. Kilgrave then responds, “Which part of staying in five-star hotels, eating at all the best places, doing whatever the hell you wanted, is rape?”. Jessica than defiantly replies, “The part where I didn’t want to do any of it! Not only did you physically rape me, but you violated every cell in my body and every thought in my goddamn head.”

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Scene where Jessica accuses Kilgrave of his crimes

This scene is one of many examples of Jessica Jones defining the essence of the problem with sexual assault/rape.

The impact of this show is already evident. In one interview with the actress who plays Jessica Jones, Krysten Ritter, she said that women have come up to her in tears in the streets because this was the first time they felt represented by the lead of a show.

Hopefully, Jessica Jones will continue to inspire people and impact the world like it is doing now.

Jessica Jones’ Unconventional Representation

Jessica Jones episode 7

As the name implies, Jessica Jones is a show focused primarily on a female character. However the show focuses on a pretty evenly distributed spread of female/male characters. With about 11 main characters on the show, there are 6 female characters. With a pretty even distribution, the show tends to focus on the female characters, with Jessica Jones receiving the most screen time. Rarely, Jessica Jones is not shown in a scene, and when there are other characters in a scene, it is often Jessica Jones interacting with Trish Walker, her closest friend in the show.

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Trish talking to Jessica.

Besides screen time, Jessica Jones puts female characters at the center of its focus regarding its plot. Usually, Jessica Jones makes most of the important decisions, and male characters often react to her decisions. Both some male and female characters exist on the outskirts of the show, but unconventionally more female characters drive the plot of the show. This is one of the main reasons I believe Jessica Jones is revolutionary for our time. It puts female characters at the center of its focus while it also uses a good proportion of male characters to add to its plot.

In regards to other representational axis, the show does great on representing other races. In the main cast, there are 2 African-American, 1 Asian-American, and 1 Latino-American characters 2 of which are female characters. However, some of these characters do not have important/impactful roles in the story. With regards to sexual orientation, there is 1 character in the main cast who is portrayed to be lesbian. The show does well with not hiding sexual orientation representation in the show. Although only 1 lesbian character exist, the show does not shy away at showing the character’s relationships with her female partners.

Finally, mental illness is a topic greatly covered by this TV show. With Jessica Jones herself battling through PTSD and depression, the show constantly tackles and deals with issues regarding mental illness. Actually, every episode in the entire season is about Jessica dealing with her past and overcoming her personal struggles.

Community and Help: An Important Element to Jessica Jones and the World

For this post, I analyzed the theme presented in Jessica Jones Episode 4 “AKA 99 Friends”.

Multiple arguments were made in this episode that bolstered the theme of the episode. First, the show played around the necessity of therapy in the episode. In this episode as well as the previous episode, Jessica is shown having a dismissive attitude towards therapy. Due to her PTSD, she often recites a series of words that remind her of her happiest moments. Even though Jessica always seem to dislike the idea of therapy, the show shows how the support group she is apart of helps her face Kilgrave, the main antagonist of the story. She even recommends that support group to Malcolm, Jessica’s neighbor. The show clearly argues the need of therapy or support to those in troubled situations.

The second argument the show makes during this episode surrounds the idea of personal responsibility. Jessica Jones is clearly portrayed as an abnormal hero. Throughout the show, Jessica struggles with what she is really responsible for. In other words, should she help anyone who asks for it? This question is asked multiple times, and in this episode particularly, the morality of personal responsibility is questioned when (*spoiler warning*) Jessica finds out Malcolm is actually working for Kilgrave as Jessica’s stalker. In addition to this twist, Jessica originally met Malcolm when she first encountered Kilgrave all those years ago and tried to save Malcolm from Kilgrave. Interestingly, Jessica continues to help Malcolm despite being betrayed completing the argument of personal responsibility. The show ultimately argues that help should be given without condition. This is clearly shown when Malcolm asks Jessica if humanity is worth saving, and this goes well with Jessica’s struggle with personal responsibility.

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Scene that shows the comical side of the relationship between Jessica and Malcolm

At the end, both these arguments support the one of the main overarching themes of the show: seeking community and help. Both these arguments show the importance of having a community or a friend who will help unconditionally. In the example with Malcolm, Jessica has no reason to help him especially with his betrayal. However, Jessica continues to help him even though she always acts like she doesn’t care about Malcolm. I believe this theme applies to the real-world very well. Often, mental illness and suicide often arise from the lack of community and the lack of help from others. The theme shown goes to show how important community and help is to our society today.



The noir cinematography and dark direction of Jessica Jones

Episode 5 Season 1

As the plot of the show (and this episode) is very dark and serious, the cinematography of the show truly bolsters this tone by using a very dark visuals as well. More specifically, the show likes to use a classic 1940’s noir lighting by using hard light and immediately cutting to high-contrast black and white shapes. Sometimes during important dramatic scenes, the color becomes more saturated or softer during scenes conveying talent.  Also, majority of the scenes in this episode took place at night, which I thought was interesting. I think the directors shot the scenes in this way to convey the night as a more warm and forgiving setting unlike most shows, which use the night to convey the exact opposite feeling.

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Scene in the show depicting the white-dark contrast in lighting

In addition, the show tends to have long scenes with minimal cuts to purposely include the whole background including the main characters. Rather than having many up-close shots of the characters, the directors purposely included a wide background in many of the shots. Unless it’s an action scene, most scenes seem to have this quality. I think the directors purposely shot the scenes in that way to strongly convey the dark tone used throughout the show.

The episode I watched for this blog didn’t appear to have any distinct/different visuals compared to other episodes in the season. However, the episode did continue to reinforce some of the colors/tones associated with the character Jessica Jones. For example, Jessica Jones’ color on screen always seems a bit de-saturated, which I think supports her steely, cool nature. In addition, when Jessica is interacting with other characters, the scene would often show contrast colors between Jessica and the other character or characters to highlight Jessica. The color often contrasted would be darker and more classic black/white than the color surrounding or reflecting off of the character or characters Jessica was interacting with.

Changes in Women’s Careers Portrayed by Popular Television Throughout Time: John Ryu


Martinez-Sheperd, Ivonne. “Portrayals of Women in Prime Time Reality TV Programs.” Iowa State University, . Retrospective Theses and Dissertations, 2006.

In this Thesis paper written by Ivonne Martinez-Sheperd, Ivonne examines to which extent women are shown and portrayed on reality TV shows. She examines a census of reality shows aired in June to July of 2006 from four major TV networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX. Unexpectedly, she deduces that women are portrayed positively in terms of roles, behaviors, and appearances.

This paper is very useful and important to our research project because of the sheer amount of statistics data it provides on gender representation in American Television. Not only does it provide concrete percentage data of female demographics in American television, but also it provides qualitative data on the kind of roles women played in those reality TV shows. This data can be used to show trends/changes in the portrayal of women in television by comparing Ivonne’s observations with that of other articles or reports.


Pasztor, S. K. (2015). The gendered world of work in TV programming and the media industry. Media Report to Women, 43(1), 12-20. 

Sabrina Pasztor discusses and argues on the existence of occupational segregation and glass ceilings in media. She begins her essay describing gender roles and expectations in the 1950s when television started to become the main source of media for most households in America. She then goes on to describe how many television shows reflected career expectations given to women at the time in the section “Gender Role Portrayals on Television: 1950s-1960s”.

This essay is extremely useful because it provides specific examples of TV shows in the past and how they portrayed gender roles in terms of the careers they portrayed. She also analyzes women’s roles in families and how that was also portrayed in television shows as well. Furthermore, she continues to analyze trends in the portrayal of women’s careers in the 1970’s all the way up to the 1990’s, which makes this essay an excellent source of information about how women’s careers portrayed in television have changed over time.

Bahadur, Nina. “Why We Need These Kinds Of Women On TV.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 13 Nov. 2012, www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/women-in-the-media-female_n_2121979.html.

Huffington Post writer, Nina Bahadur, claims that female TV and film characters are still being assigned to specific gender roles and are often sidelined as a character. She uses one main study as a central point to back-up her statement. She cites a study done by a sociologist who analyzed almost 12000 speaking roles in modern-day television. The study pointed out many common patterns often seen with female characters. Some of those patterns have to do with appearances but also the type of careers the female characters had in the show.

This source is useful because the specific study cited in the essay provides useful information on the differences of gender roles between men and women with specific quantitative data. This data can be later used in our research to show how women’s jobs are shown differently than men’s jobs on American television.


Alexander Sink & Dana Mastro (2017) Depictions of Gender on Primetime Television: A Quantitative Content Analysis, Mass Communication and Society, 20:1, 3-22, DOI: 10.1080/15205436.2016.1212243

This article statistically analyzed prime time television by randomly sampling shows across 9 cable networks and broadcasts. It concluded from its analysis that modern prime time television is not at a “golden age” for women. However, it does conclude that some gender stereotypes have decreased compared to previous decades such as the existence of dominant men and/or sexually provocative women in the show.

This article presents very useful data since it is an almost unbiased, statistically based report that provided quantitative data on exactly what career roles women are shown to have played in modern television. This data can be compared to data from the past given in other articles to show the changes in the portrayal of women’s careers in American television.

Jack Glascock (2003) Viewer perception of gender roles on network prime‐time television, Communication Research Reports, 20:2, 173-181, DOI: 10.1080/08824090309388813 https://doi.org/10.1080/08824090309388813

Unlike other studies done, this study examined the audience’s perception of sex roles in American television rather than have the writer report about his/her observations on sex roles in American television. A total of 321 college students were asked to rate major female and male characters in comedies and dramas using the Bem Sex-Role inventory. Jack Glascock concluded that both male and female characters were perceived similar to real life people. However, dramas tended to stereotype each sex more than comedies did.

This article presents us a unique piece of information: public opinion. Rather than provide quantitative or qualitative data on the portrayal of women’s careers, this article presents data on how the audience today views women’s careers and their opinions on how the female character’s career differs from the male character’s career.

Hess, Donna J, and Geoffrey W Grant. “ Prime-Time Television and Gender-Role Behavior.” Teaching Sociology, vol. 10, no. 3, Apr. 1983, pp. 371–388. 3.


In this article, Donna Hess and Geoffrey Grant discuss the impact prime-time television on gender roles and views of gender roles of television watchers. They also deeply discuss specific kinds of behaviors shown in television shows and how they reflect gender roles in society. They also provide statistical data on gender demographics in prime-time television shows. Overall this article is more of a report than an opinion article as it provides more data and qualitative observations rather than opinions and statements.

This article is a great piece of information surrounding the different kinds of behaviors assigned to gender roles. Multiple charts providing statistical data on behaviors specific to each gender are provided throughout the article. In addition, the piece also compares scenes in different TV shows to outline the key differences in behaviors between female and male characters. Overall, this piece is very important to our research because it pays specific attention to differences in gender roles via analysis of behaviors in prime-time television shows.


The faces says it all…

Jessica Jones: Episode 1 Season 1

This episode of Jessica Jones was written by multiple writers in Los Angeles with one of the writers being on set in New York City. These writers took inspiration from Daredevil, the other Netflix Marvel character. Interestingly enough, the writers of Jessica Jones were developed through the production of the season rather than being pre-written unlike the other Netflix Avengers TV shows. I think this is very interesting because the method of the show’s writing also reflects the impromptu/just-go-with-it attitude of the character Jessica Jones.

Dialogue in this episode was very informal with no voice over. However, there were multiple scenes with just music playing in the background that set the tone of each scene. The music with the silence of the characters in the scene almost acted as a passive voice over for the episode. I feel like this shapes the character of Jessica Jones much more and adds to the dark tone of the episode. For example, there is one scene where Jessica Jones is spying on Luke Cage, who happens to be another superhero. Without any words, the audience can tell just from her facial expressions and the slow, steady background music that Jessica yearns for a normal life without PTSD or any of her problems.

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Jessica speaks through her facial expressions

On the note of the episode using silence, the episode very frequently used flashbacks that blends in reality to express the feeling of Jessica’s PTSD. Rather than do direct black and white flashbacks to the past to recall why she has PTSD, the episode often blends scenes from the past and the present with fast paced music to instill a sense of fear in the audience’s minds. In these scenes, Jessica also does not talk often if not at all, which I believe is used to show how much fear Jessica Jones has for the antagonist of the season, Kilgrave.

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Flashback scene

Overall, the frequent absence of dialogue in the writing of the episode stood out to me most. Most of Jessica’s feelings or complex thoughts were expressed through music and facial expressions which the writers did well in synchronizing the two elements together in scenes. For example, the plot twist at the end of the episode wasn’t started via a dialogue scene like in many other TV shows, but through slow, eerie music and through Jessica’s silence.



This describes me (hope I English well)

My name is John Ryu, and I am a second year Aerospace Engineering major. Hopefully, I will be graduating in the next 3 years. I’m also out-of-state so paying them tuition fees will be fun.

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How I feel as a out-of-state student

This is my first English class I am taking at Tech (yes, I held off English for a whole year), and it’s already been a much better experience than previous English classes I have taken in High School. I especially like the electronic form of communication we are employing in this class. In previous English classes, every lesson would be another passage to read or another essay to write. This class seems to really focus on the electronic side of communication (probably because the topic covers Television/media).

In other realms of communication, I struggle most with written forms of communication. I always struggled with structuring my essays well. My ideas would often be everywhere on paper, and my essay as a whole would be incoherent with the main idea of the paper. Thus, I hope to improve on this matter through practices such as this blog post.

I am a huge TV fanatic. That’s why I don’t have a Netflix account, because I would probably spend 24 hours of my day watching shows if I did have one. Because of school, I forced myself to only watch 1 or 2 TV series at a time. At the moment, I am watching The Good Place season 2 and The Flash (once new season starts).

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What I become if I get Netflix

The TV show I have decided to review is Jessica Jones, partly because I am a fan of Marvel movies. Also, I am reviewing this show because this character is one of Marvel’s darker characters, and I am curious how Marvel decided to develop this character. This series is about a woman named Jessica Jones who is a ex-superhero with super strength battling post-traumatic stress disorder. She opens her own detective agency that investigates individuals with special abilities.

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