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5 Shows like Jessica Jones: Dark & Destructive

Natasha Evette itcherIf you’re like me and blasted through Marvel’s ‘Jessica Jones’ in a single sitting, then you’ll be desperate for something similar to keep you going while you wait for a second season! Let’s take a look at TV shows similar to ‘Jessica Jones’ such as ‘Veronica Mars’ and ‘Alias’ and see how they measure up for you megafans out there. ~ Natasha Evette

Don’t Forget to Smile…

‘Jessica Jones’ has taken off like a rocket, and the array of fantastic articles out there analysing every minute detail of ‘Jessica Jones’ are absolutely worth the read. For female sci-fi nerds, especially, TV shows like ‘Jessica Jones’ are a breath of fresh air in a vast series of disappointing, latex clad, thinly developed, Stepford-Heroines. The script and direction in this show are both expertly done and we couldn’t have been more blessed to have such gifted actors like Krysten Ritter and David Tenant playing the leading parts.

Jessica is dark; she’s damaged, destructive, depressed, but she’s recovering from her trauma. Her personal journey in the season is just as thrilling to watch unfold as the overarching plot and battle against the antagonist. This well-crafted female characterisation in the arena of supernatural, sci-fi, and fantasy genre television is disappointingly rare, but I’ve managed to wrangle up a handful of suggestions that might just be what you’re looking for.


Shows Similar to ‘Jessica Jones’…

‘Veronica Mars’ (Rob Thomas, 2004)

A kick-ass, apathetic, PI with a mysterious past, you say? Where does that sound familiar?

So, funny story, Marvel actually said that ‘Jessica Jones’ was, in summary, ‘Veronica Mars’ meets David Fincher (the director behind Fight Club). You won’t have to look hard at all to see the similarities between the two. Like Jessica, Veronica’s snappy, smart and doesn’t take any shit.

The first season kicks off with Veronica trying to find her best friend’s murderer, and like Jessica Jones, the show doesn’t spoon feed you dark or difficult topics, although the overall feel of the show is generally a little lighter and set in high school, so heads up on that one!

Following a fundraiser, the movie version of ‘Veronica Mars’ was released on 2014.

Similarity Match: 85%
Veronica might not have supernatural strength like Jessica, but that doesn’t mean this show is weak! Veronica proves that you don’t need to be a superhero to beat the bad guys.

‘Alias’ (J.J. Abrams, 2001)

Sydney Bristow might not be a PI, but I think a triple agent for the CIA is still enough excitement for one character. ‘Alias’ is a cool show, and will hit the right spots if you’re looking for some girl power (in the ‘break legs and shatter collarbones’ sort of way), and it’s edgy, angsty and dark enough with just a little bit of the supernatural to keep you intrigued. It was fairly well received by critics and while it’s not my personal favourite, it’s worth the watch.

It’s worth noting though that Sydney Bristow is different from Jessica. While she certainly has her own personal troubles, she’s more sexualised than Jessica is, in the ‘wearing latex and high heels are great when chasing bad guys’ kind of way – which is irksome, but nothing major. Much of the show revolves around Sydney trying to keep her secrets, which should strike true to Jessica Jones fans also, even if the nuanced female empowerment factor is generally lesser.

Similarity Match: 70%
While the themes and ideas of the show have similarities, the atmospheres are different. Sydney Bristow’s hair might be flawless, but Alias misses the mark for me. There’s too much flash and not enough substance, whereas Jessica Jones is the opposite.

‘The Legend of Korra’ (Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, 2012)

At first glance, ‘The Legend of Korra’ might seem a little childish to you if you haven’t had a lot of exposure to cartoons since you were a kid. Personally, I would argue a lot of the finer, developmental and emotional points of this show would actually be lost on young children. While I certainly wouldn’t put ‘The Legend of Korra’ in the adult cartoon category, like ‘Bojack Horseman’ or ‘Archer’ (check out some great similar tv series here), ‘The Legend of Korra’ is very mature and powerful and fans of ‘Jessica Jones’ will not walk away disappointed.

Like ‘Jessica Jones’, ‘The Legend of Korra’ has a collection of characters with supernatural skills, although theirs exclusively involves the manipulation of the elements. However, Korra is special because she is the only one who is able to control them all.

Although Korra might seem like a happy-go-lucky girl where Jessica is tormented and angry straight off the bat, throughout the development of the series, Korra deals with complex emotions and challenges that you will see reflected in Jessica’s journey. They both struggle and encounter failure, and are equally fearless and terrified of something at the same time. Lastly, the range of strong characterisation in the female characters of ‘Legend of Korra’ is simply unparalleled to anything else I’ve ever seen.

Similarity Match: 70%
‘Legend of Korra’ might be a cartoon, but don’t let that fool you. Korra and Jessica’s overall journeys follow a similar path of self-discovery, perseverance and recovery amidst an overarching catastrophic plot.

‘Agent Carter’ (MARVEL, 2015)

‘Agent Carter’ is female empowerment a-go-go and another hit from Marvel Studios. Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy Carter, Captain America’s first romantic interest, in the lead of her own show. Like Jessica Jones, Agent Carter has it’s own unique style. Although, rather than gritty noire, it’s more Hollywood-retro-glamour and like ‘Jessica Jones’, it’s highly distinctive from other shows out there today.

‘Agent Carter’ is very fun, classy and stylish, and takes what could have been another girlish character blip on the Marvel radar and turns her into a fleshed-out badass of a character. You won’t find ‘Agent Carter’ as weighty or dark as Jessica Jones. It has its moments, but it definitely has more of a spring in its step. It’s excellent and you’ll find Peggy Carter just as compelling a character as Jessica is.

Similarity Match: 65%
‘Agent Carter’ is similarly distinctive with a unique style, and a win again for female nerds in the Marvel fandom, but it lacks the grim in general and the heavier, depressing qualities found in ‘Jessica Jones’ are rare.


If You Like ‘Jessica Jones’, You Will Like…

Series similar to ‘Jessica Jones’ might be hard to come by. But, although the following show might lack detectives, agents or superpowers, you’ll still see similar themes that might tide you over for another month.

‘Flesh And Bone’ (Starz, 2015)

Take out the superpowers and noire mystery, replace them with ballerinas and arts-world politics, and surprisingly, you’re still left with a mini-series that bears striking similarities to ‘Jessica Jones’.

‘Flesh and Bone’ centres around Claire, a young woman on the run from her tormented past and twisted family, desperate to make it into the world of professional ballet. Luck and impressive talent land her a place in a New York City ballet company on her first audition.

As plucky as a ballet-focussed show may sound, the show is fraught with dark and appalling elements; sexual and emotional abuse, manipulation and control, personal journeys with recovery, eating disorders, and incest, to name a few.

While ‘Jessica Jones’ tries to show us that the villain doesn’t necessarily need his superpowers to manipulate or abuse to a seemingly supernatural degree, the villainous characters in ‘Flesh and Bone’ show explicitly that. The actual dancing scenes are short enough that the show should still appeal to those uninterested in ballet, and the show’s focus is on the plights, development and growth of the main characters, as well as highlighting the cruelty and difficulty of arts-world employment.

This is dark but lacks the supernatural. I don’t think Jessica would be caught dead in a tutu, but even she would think some of these ladies are badass!


Jonseing For More?

Fingers crossed that we only get more seasons of ‘Jessica Jones’ and hopefully, more studios out there will begin to follow her example.

I’ve always had a real thing for physically powerful women, but unfortunately, so much of that seems to go hand-in-hand with chainmail bikinis, high heels, or some other needlessly sexualised scene. Some of the other mentions above hopefully slaked your thirst for more like ‘Jessica Jones’ but I’ll never stop being excited about and on the lookout for more well-written female characters.

I hope you enjoyed my selections, and if there are any more TV series like ‘Jessica Jones’ you’d like to add, then let us know in the comments section below.

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