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'Jessica Jones' creator on the show's new relevance in the #MeToo era




Creator/showrunner Melissa Rosenberg (center) and actress Janet McTeer (left) on the set of Marvel's
Creator/showrunner Melissa Rosenberg (center) and actress Janet McTeer (left) on the set of Marvel's "Jessica Jones."
David Giesbrecht/Netflix

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While it sounds a little strange to say, writer Melissa Rosenberg really knows her way around a dark, disturbed character. It may seem like an unusual specialty for someone who got her start writing for TV shows such as “Party of Five” and “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” but her more recent credits paint a darker picture.

Rosenberg was a writer and executive producer on the Showtime series, “Dexter,” and also wrote the “Twilight” films. Her latest role is creator and show-runner of “Jessica Jones,” the Netflix series based on the Marvel comic, “Alias.”

Jones is a private investigator and an alcoholic trying to put her messy superhero past behind her. Her superhuman strength is the result of medical experiments performed on her after a car crash that killed her family. In the second season of the series, which premiered in March, Jones sets out to find what really happened to her after the crash, with the help of her foster sister and best friend, Trish Walker.

The Frame host John Horn spoke with Rosenberg about the new season and about the idea of Jessica Jones as a superhero for the #MeToo movement.

Interview highlights:

On her desire to create a flawed female superhero:

I was looking at what I was going to be doing after "Dexter" and "Twilight," so I started making the rounds at some networks and I went over to ABC and they asked, What is it you want to do next? And the only thing I could think of was, I was really interested in the female Iron Man. I love genre, I love superhero movies, and there was just really a lack of women in that, particularly in flawed characters ... The response was Jeph Loeb, who's the head of Marvel TV, who brought me one book and one book only, which was "Jessica Jones." And it was such a perfect pairing for me. It really was a character I'd always wanted to write. 

On the lack of complex female protagonists in TV and film:

It became even more obvious as sort of  "peak TV" began back with "The Sopranos" and "Breaking Bad" and "Dexter," even. These wonderfully rich, complex characters who were all white men. And after a while you're sort of going, Where is the woman who gets to [be] that incredibly rich [character]? And I think "Nurse Jackie" certainly did that, and "Weeds" and "Orange is the New Black." So headway was being made and we just jumped on that train. 

James McCaffrey, Rachael Taylor (left) and Krysten Ritter in Marvel's
James McCaffrey, Rachael Taylor (left) and Krysten Ritter in Marvel's "Jessica Jones" on Netflix.
David Giesbrecht/Netflix

On Jessica Jones as a hero for the #MeToo movement:

Jessica is a survivor of sexual assault and ... I think the fact that Jessica is a survivor, that she has taken the hits — literally, as well as emotionally — and she keeps getting up, putting her boots on, going forward and really trying to contribute something to the world. To see a character like that on screen — someone who is deeply flawed, who makes mistakes — there's something freeing about it. You don't have to be this ideal that I think a lot of shows and a lot of movies have placed women in those roles.

On what led her to the choice to have an all-female director team:

Twenty-five years of being on shows and having them be pretty much 99 percent white men. After a while you sort of feel, Well, why am I perpetuating that? In our writers room, you have a very diverse room, it's very balanced. And just better stories come out of it [for that reason]. I don't need a bunch of people who look like me and come from my background. I need people from very, very different backgrounds. And I really feel that applies to everybody who comes to work on this show, especially the directors. I just wanted to reach out to some really talented people. And once we started looking for them, we were like, Wait a minute — there's so many! So we ended up filling 13 episodes. 

On what the show has to say about sexual assault and abuses of power:

When you have a powerful person, who literally has powers, she's someone who walks through the world in a different way than women do. She is invulnerable, you know. God help the mugger or rapist who comes at her. Yet, even so, she was a victim of assault from someone who was mind-controlling.  It's a really interesting metaphor for how vulnerable we really are. 

The first two seasons of :Jessica Jones" are available now on Netflix.



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