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Jessica Jones showrunner Melissa Rosenberg on going to darker places in season two

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Mar 13, 2018

Season two of Jessica Jones is now streaming on Netflix, and based on what we've seen so far, it seems as if everyone's favorite private detective still has a lot of issues to deal with heading into the new season—but she's going to be coping in her own way, i.e. her trademark witty barbs and maybe a bottle of whiskey or two.

Ahead of the second season premiere, SYFY Fangrrls spoke with Jessica Jones showrunner and executive producer Melissa Rosenberg about what to look forward to in this set of new episodes, from Jessica and Trish's shifting dynamic to Jessica's inner and outer conflicts—as well as the way the vibe on set changed with female directors behind the camera on every single episode of season two.

Reflecting back on season one, which in retrospect aired before the landmark changes that we're seeing in Hollywood, like #MeToo and Time's Up, Jessica Jones is this show that really delves into female anger and the breadth of female emotion in really interesting ways. So, working on the show then and looking at everything that's happening nowwas that an especially cathartic experience for you as a writer, to channel that into her character?

I've always approached this character as a character, not as a female character specifically. This is a human being with all the complexity and damage and the attributes that come with that, and now, of course, her gender informs her story. She's going to have certain experiences in her life and walk through the roles in a certain way because of her gender, but it's really about telling an interesting character story, and I think that's very relevant. So much of the #MeToo movement is wanting to be heard and seen every bit as much as the other half of the population.

The fan reactions of season onefrom female fans in particular, I think, was really huge. Was there any feedback that you got in particular that maybe changed or affected how you approached season two?

Well, you know, the reaction of season one was overwhelming, and humbling, and gratifying beyond words, but we went into season two the same way that we went into season one. We never went in saying, "We are now going to attack this issue or going to take this stand on this subject." It was always being true to her character and true to her experiences. When you're honest with those feelings and that journey, you naturally are going to hit on some universal experiences and issues. And that's how we approached season two, as well.

It looks like, with season two, the show is descending into some darker places. Was that a conscious decision or was it more like you said, setting out to tell Jessica's journey and then that sort of lent itself to her having to dive into darker places?

Yeah, we just followed her journey into these places—a lot of edge in there, and some really intense experiences that she's looking at, always balanced with a fair bit of humor...dark humor, but humor.

Jessica's relationship with her powers was a little bit begrudging. It seemed like most of the time she'd use them when the situation called for it, but it wasn't like she wanted to draw attention to them in any way. Does that become something different in season two, or is she kind of just putting up with what makes her different?

Going into the series in general, she's never had any doubts or questions about her power. Her powers are a part of who she is, and she accepts them, and she doesn't hide them nor does she advertise them. They're just a part of who she is. Where the conflict comes in is how she came about those powers. There's a great deal of survivor's guilt that comes along with the power, so it's a fine distinction, but an important one to me. This is not someone who is denying her power or hiding it in any way. It's really all about how [they] came about.
 
Then there are all the expectations that people have on people with powers, and how they should do something meaningful with it, and [Jessica] has a lot of damage along with all these powers, and it's very hard to see clearly what her role in the world is. This season very much deals with, for her, the question of, "Who am I? Am I the killer that Kilgrave tried to turn me into? Am I a monster like this person running around out here killing things? Or am I a hero?" All of those kinds of questions, and of course, "Who am I down in my very DNA?" The conflict with this season is both external and internal. It just is really interesting and dynamic.

Krysten Ritter in Marvel and Netflix's Jessica Jones
Talking about dynamics, one of the relationships I love and a lot of people love the most about the show is the dynamic between Jessica and Trish. It definitely seems like Trish is starting to drive a lot of the story herself in season two, so how does the relationship between Jessica and Trish change now that Trish is kind of the architect of a lot of the narrative?

Trish's own investigation is what stirred up all these external conflicts that Jessica is now having to deal with, so [season two] begins with Jessica feeling somewhat resentful. In her mind, she was perfectly fine going along ignoring everything, and Trish, on her own path, made that possible for her, so there is some resentment that goes into it. But that relationship is the cool relationship in this series. It's sort of a love story between friends and all the conflicts that come up with that—the fear of losing one another, or the envy. All the very natural, organic, authentic interaction is really interesting to play.

Season one we were certainly called Jessica Jones, and all of our focus was on Jessica and bringing the audience her experience, and the other characters are sort of conduits to that. This season, we were really able to dive deeper into all of our characters—Trish and Hogarth, and Malcolm—and able to bring in Janet McTeer, who is such an extraordinary presence and playing something she's never played before, so it's so exciting to watch.

Season two started to make headlines before it even aired when the news broke that an all-female directorial team had been hired to work on season two. What do you think has been the biggest difference in terms of embracing a more intentional inclusion behind the camera?

A good director is a good director, regardless of gender, and we have 13 amazingly talented directors contributing to our season. You hire great people, and you're going to get great work. What I think it did contribute to was the vibe on set; the parity has become very clear, and it becomes normalized. So you walk on set and you're no longer the only woman, and it's very 50/50—and that creates a certain vibe and a certain safety because you feel like you're a part of something. I think the men felt as comfortable as the women, and people do their best work when they feel safe. It was a very warm environment.

If you could bring any Marvel character onto the show, who would it be and what would they be doing?

Oh my goodness, that's interesting. [Laughs] I would really love to see Jessica and Tony Stark go at it. You know, just trade barb for barb.

She could give any Avenger a run for their money.

Yeah, I think so.


Season two of Jessica Jones is now streaming on Netflix.

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