Season 2 of the Netflix series Jessica Jones, based on the Marvel comic Alias, is set to be helmed entirely by women-identified directors. This almost never happens, so it’s a big deal.
The series focuses on an unlikeable superhero character who survived an abusive relationship with Zebediah Kilgrave and suffers from PTSD as a result. She’s often selfish, but is trying to be a better person. Having a female character who isn’t well-liked by others, especially by the audience, is a rarity — women are almost always portrayed as people-pleasers, and not very complex. Jessica Jones also stands out because it tackles issues like sexual assault, trauma and complex friendships between women that pass the Bechdel test.
In an industry that chronically under-hires women for directorial positions, the news that season 2 will be directed by women is HUGE! Melissa Rosenberg, the show’s executive producer and showrunner, discussed the announcement at Transforming Hollywood 7: Diversifying Entertainment, a conference held at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
— Mo Ryan (@moryan) October 22, 2016
Marvel is completely on board with the idea of Rosenberg increasing the number of female directors bringing the feminist superhero to life. Jessica Jones is not the only series to hire a roster of all-female directors, though. Ava DuVernay’s Queen Sugar also did this for the entire first season of the groundbreaking Oprah Network show.
Beyond directing, Rosenberg had an interesting perspective on her hiring process for writers.
“When I interview a writer, I’m less interested in what you’ve been doing professionally than I am in where you’re from, what your parents do, what’s your life experience, what are you bringing to the table personally? I don’t want a bunch of people who look and sound [like me] and have the experiences I have.”
Hollywood has a diversity problem. According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, 9 percent of the top-grossing domestic films in 2015 were directed by women. The numbers are even more dismal when combined with other intersecting identities of oppression like race, disability, trans and queer women and femmes. White men still make up the majority of directors — Fargo, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and even the slightly more feminist-friendly Stranger Things are all directed by men with no women or BIPOC behind the camera.
Beyond Jessica Jones, Marvel is beginning to listen to its women and femme audiences. They are currently gearing up to produce Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson, and seeking a woman to direct the film. While a thin blonde in a skintight suit may not be a revelation, it will be the first Marvel film to feature a female protagonist in post-Iron Man-era Marvel.
It’s a step in the right direction for Marvel and a huge high five for Jessica Jones fans (including the actors) everywhere who are eager to see new episodes. The new season is slated to begin filming in November, alongside The Defenders (which includes the Jessica Jones character as well as Luke Cage), and will most likely not come back until 2018. Ouch!
Great! But when will it be? Don't want to wait another year until I can watch Jessica on my screen again.
— AnomJo (@AnomJo) October 22, 2016
— Rachael Taylor (@_Rachael_Taylor) October 22, 2016