English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: #ReviewTopic2

Tense, Urgent, Fearful: the Truth of a Hospital’s Environment

(Topic 2)

The episode (and series) is written by Stacy McKee. That has been her primary achievement/occupation since Grey’s Anatomy is one of the longest running shows. She won the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: New Series. The dialogue is usually quick with the camera and dialogue shifting back and forth as the characters even break each other’s statements to start their own. This seems to create a sense of urgency and creates a tense and stressful environment. This is very much needed since it is the norm in hospitals where people need split-second decisions to save their lives and people dying is very common. Silence is usually used to allow the viewers to feel the finality and the depth of what has happened. This is usually after a death, an argument, someone leaving, or anything where there is a negative emotion to be felt. There are a lot of flashbacks usually either related to suffering in the past such as when Meredith Grey remembers how her mom neglected her or when April Kepner and Jackson Avery remember how their happy marriage turned out so badly or also happiness earlier on in life such as when Meredith Gray remembers how much she loved Derek Shepherd and how great their marriage was. The writing really seems to just capture the air and environment of a hospital, the urgency, the hope, the sadness, the desperation, the fear, and even the brightness of a fixed patient. The writer was perfect for the job and I believe is the rightful recipient of the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: New Series. Her writing has been instrumental in keeping viewers hooked for over 15 years with the same show as characters have come and gone. It’s the style of this show that has kept the viewers at bay.

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(Stacey McKee is pictured above)

Sometimes Silence can be the Greatest Storyteller: The Writing in Jessica Jones

Whenever I find myself analyzing Jessica Jones, I find myself realizing how unique the show is compared to its competitors. In accordance with the conclusion I made in my last blog, the dark mood of the show is also developed through the writing. This blog post will be analyzing a single episode, Season 1 Episode 7: AKA Top Shelf Perverts. I’m looking at only a single episode because 1) I haven’t seen the entire first season and 2) the writers vary per episode. This episode was written by Jenna Reback and Micah Schraft. Reback has written 9 episodes for Jessica Jones, and Schraft has written 3 episodes, although he has a variety of experience producing and writing for 3 and 10 shows, respectively. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that these two writers wrote the story as the producer intended it to be written, so it can be used as an accurate representation of season 1 as a whole.

Season 1 seems to open every episode in a similar fashion: there is almost always a full minute, or more, of near silence as we are transported into the world of Jessica Jones. This first minute of silence feels like it eases us into the show before everything picks up as the action begins. In fact, I would argue that most of the storytelling is carried by said action, rather than by speech. Jessica Jones, in particular, prefers to act instead of monologue out her plans. Many times, the show takes the viewers along for a ride, rather than holding our hands through the story. Conversation is used more as a tool for developing relationships between characters than driving plot. Because of this, nearly all conversation is between the 4-5 main characters, and chatter is kept to a minimum.

The infrequency of chatter further develops the show’s dark mood. In contrast, dialogue-heavy shows like The Good Place, one of my personal favorites, feel very lively. The rhythm of dialogue in Jessica Jones can be more appropriately characterized by alternating periods of heated conversation and periods of very little conversation. This reinforces Jessica Jones’ stance that the world can be a depressing, lonely place; the show may revolve around Jones, but that doesn’t mean anyone on the streets of New York cares about her presence. The moments of silence really bring that idea to life, in my opinion.

Above: Not only do the writers want to keep talking to a minimum, but so does the antagonist! Also, notice how much we can tell about the antagonist from the indirect characterization provided through this character’s line.

Silence is Golden: A Look at Dialogue and Writing in Jessica Jones

The episode I am writing about, Episode 7: “AKA Top Level Perverts”, is written by Jenna Reback and Micah Schraft. Reback has been a production staff member of 7 episodes of the show “Red Window” and 9 episodes for Jessica Jones, including this episode, while Micah Schraft has been a production staff member of and written episodes for several shows, including 3 episodes for Jessica Jones and 14 episodes for Jane the Virgin!

Going back to the writing of episode 7, dialogue in this episode, much like many other components, is structured similarly to the other episodes: short segments of people conversing, Jessica Jones included, followed by long segments of the episode focused on Jessica herself either voiced over at times with certain quotes from Jessica or simply joined with jazz background music as she is either planning out a new idea involving capturing Kilgrave, coping with her traumas of the past, or even just walking around the bustling New York City at night-time. This emphasis on Jessica for the majority of the time in this episode, and others alike, continues to put the viewers in her point of view and empathize with her as she makes each decision and carries out each of her decisions, including her decision to first take the blame for Kilgrave’s murder of her lover in order to end up in a high-security prison to capture Kilgrave, to finding him in the police station and deciding to go with him to save the lives of the people around her.

A standard supermax prison cell, one that   Jessica wanted to go to

Silence, due to its continued prevalence in this episode as a large portion of it focuses on Jessica formulating the plan above and making mental decisions, is key in each episode as it allows for the viewers to learn more about her through her mental recollections. One of the things that become obvious is that she never liked her stepmother who took her from an orphanage and initially seemed like a nice person, due to her bad actions and intentions for her actions, something that took several moments of flashbacks by Jessica in each episode for the viewers to notice.

Finally, something that stood out to me about the writing of this episode, compared to the previous ones, is the way Kilgrave is somewhat justified in his actions, especially for his love for Jessica as he declared it when in the police station. He told her that he fell in love with her since she was the only one who was able to resist him to an extent, as in his power of mind control, showing that he admired her physical and mental strength. The writers therefore wanted to present Kilgrave as being somewhat rational, even though very over-the-top with many of his actions, which is definitely a unique idea present in this episode that was not present in previous ones.

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Kilgrave before admitting his love for Jessica

Voice-overs v. Silence in The Bold Type

If you have ever worked out to one of those exercise videos, you know what I am talking about when I say the person teaching those workouts could definitely have a second job as a motivational speaker. As weird as it sounds, however, it’s actually true. The coaches have a knack for getting people to “keep going” far past the point of when they would much rather give up.

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Jane waiting to find out if she will be sued.

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Sutton speaking to Oliver about giving her benefits.

The Bold Type uses the voice of a cycling class instructor as a voice-over in the episode “No Feminism in the Champagne Room”, as multiple major events are happening in each of the main character’s lives. The instructor’s voice reigns over the images of Sutton as she goes into her new boss’s office and demanded benefits since her new job does not pay enough and she knows that she is worth more than what he is willing to offer. The inspirational voice continued as Jane sits in a conference room facing the threat of a lawsuit from a woman she has written a story on and who is now blaming her for some misfortunate events that happened since the release of the story.

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Kat telling Adena that she wants to be in a relationship after her spin class.

The voice of the coach continues still, from its original source, where Kat is in the cycling class listening to the encouraging words as she is trying to sort through her own feelings of confusion where Adena is concerned.

Words like, “you are here for a reason!”….“test what you are capable of” ….“ the journey is just as important as the destination, so embrace the incline!”… “push through, you are stronger than you think”, are playing in the background of the episode. Though it is an exercise instructor who is originally only speaking for her students, her words are universal to all of the obstacles faced by the girls in the show.

There are also moments of silence within the episode. Set in between louder music, everything will stop in order to bring attention to a few words or one specific event. Like when Kat poured her heart out to Adena, the music played loudly, yet when Adena said she was leaving for Paris to try and fix things with her girlfriend, all music faded away. This happens again when Jane finds out that she has the BRCA gene mutation and is more at risk to get breast cancer than others.

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Jane getting a blood test to see if she has the mutation.

The use of a voice over is typically not used in The Bold Type, however, in this episode, it makes an impact on the viewer, as do the moments of silence. Both affect the emotions of the viewer. Unselfconsciously making viewers feel as if they are a character on the show themselves.

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