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What 'Jessica Jones' Means to Me as Someone With Asperger's

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To be honest with you, I describe myself as a childlike optimist who likes to see stuff positively. I am a happy person and a kind person with vulnerabilities (as to admit it’s OK to have some bad days). I always like to play with my teddy bears (in my opinion, they represent innocence). I always smile and I kind of feel like I don’t want to grow up — yet. Sometimes, I wish the world to be more pleasant, but being pleasant doesn’t fully exist in this reality. As a person with Asperger’s, sometimes it’s challenging for me to adjust differences. When I stay tuned to a Netflix series, all things change as this show takes me to a whole new world. In this article, I want to share with you a different kind of “hero” that is impacting me. Her name is Jessica Jones. When I say her name, you might think, “Who in the world is Jessica Jones?” Well, here are three words to describe her: drunk, sardonic, brawler. Hold on a minute, why drunk, sardonic, and brawler to describe a superhero? Usually, superheroes are supposed to be kid-friendly and good role models, but for Jessica Jones, it’s a different story. This show impacted me for three reasons: compassion, acceptance and adulthood.

“Jessica Jones” is a Netflix series from the world of Marvel Entertainment and it’s based on the acclaimed graphic novel, “Alias” from Brian Michael Bendis. “Jessica Jones” is not the prettiest, most sugarcoated and kid-friendliest show due to themes of mental illness, abuse and addiction. To begin with, let’s start on the compassion side. This show impacts me in terms of compassion because when you’re first being introduced to these characters in the show and do some very awful stuff, you really want to hate them and have no tolerance for them. They seem like very unlikable characters. However, as the story begins to stretch out, you learn these characters are becoming more dynamic due to their backstories. Some backstories are tragic, some backstories are sad and some backstories are upsetting. Just because they’re awful doesn’t mean they’re literally that awful, they probably come from an upsetting background and they try so hard to redeem themselves from their terrible mistakes.

Here are some examples. Most viewers describe Jessica as rude, cynical and unfriendly, but she secretly shows a soft and compassionate side to the people who are suffering — especially with a client from season one who forms a special bond with her. Jessica is cold because her family died in an accident and she faced some very dark traumas that consumed her innocence. For Jessica’s lawyer, Jeri Hogarth, she’s not really the nicest person to be with. She’s very unpleasant, manipulative and cold. You want to hate her because many times, she makes very selfish decisions to claim her own power, but Hogarth’s facing a rough time from a medical diagnosis. Kevin, a person from Jessica’s past, is described as a scary and unmerciful person. Kevin is a horrifying being lurking in the deepest and darkest corners in the dark. Kevin is one of Jessica’s worst nightmares to be with due to horrifying things he did to her, but there’s a moment of contradiction of hate vs. sympathy — if viewers are learning more of his backstory. Kevin becomes a monster due to his parents being abusive to him. His parents did not treat Kevin like a son, they treated him as an experiment. These characters are not examples of a black or white expectation. These characters are very flawed, raw human beings which makes them more grounded as we’ve seen these kinds of people before in real life.

On the acceptance part, life is challenging as there are a number of different people. I prefer being in a safe environment with tons of happy and friendly people, but if there are people who are unfriendly, strict, critical, harsh or unapproachable I have to work with, I get easily intimidated. On the other side, I have to keep reminding myself this is reality and we cannot control that person’s life. It’s not our job to fix them. Most importantly, people don’t change their behaviors magically or instantly. It’s more of a built up training skill. New York City in Jessica’s world is full of people who constantly swear and constantly argue. I feel like I want to change their lives, but some people choose the life they want to be in. If I were to meet Jessica and she said rude things to others, I would get nervous. Hogarth often thinks she’s very selfish. I don’t agree with most of the decisions she makes, but it’s not my problem. She has to decide for herself. This is why it’s not healthy to please others all the time.

As a kid at heart with a naive mind, Jessica Jones helped me explore the flaws of what’s to come when you become an adult. Remember the story of “Peter Pan” (the boy who never grows up)? Well, real life is different compared to Peter’s life. In Peter Pan’s world, you get to be anything and everyone’s so friendly, but when you live in the real world, your body and your mind starts to change and your interests (you enjoyed as a kid) begin to change. I found the themes in the show very important to keep in mind because these situations can happen in real life. Without knowing what’s going on around in your world, the more danger you put yourself into. Others can try to use you for their own dangerous needs. This socially conscious show is not really meant to be a show dealing with social issues, but it explores the themes of abuse and trauma as clever and implicit subtexts. The themes in this show are well done and I really appreciate how it’s not offensive and not preachy. This show never shies away from the flaws of each character.

“Jessica Jones” explains the ugly side of human nature. For a Marvel comic book show, this series is really one of the most outstanding shows and it’s one of my top picks. I want to congratulate everyone involved in the show especially to the talented cast, the talented writers and especially to the lovely, Krysten Ritter who plays Jessica. “Jessica Jones” has impacted me so much that I’m learning a lot about not worrying about other people’s problems. I need to take care of myself first and not let other people control me. I’m currently on season two as I’m finding this season very personal. I want to warn you though: “Jessica Jones” is not a show for everyone, especially for younger children or for viewers who experienced assault, trauma or addiction. If you’re easily intimidated, easily triggered or not into this kind of show, you’re absolutely more than welcome to not risk watching it. “Jessica Jones” is intended for older and mature audiences and does have some disturbing moments from both seasons one and two. If you decide not to watch “Jessica Jones,” I am absolutely OK with it and I fully understand and I fully respect your decision. Like I said, we can’t please everyone.

Header image via “Jessica Jones” Facebook page

Originally published: July 1, 2018
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