The Jessica Jones team was asked why there are such frank depictions of sex in their Netflix series — a clear break from Marvel’s far more chaste superhero shows of the past.
“It was important that we establish that this is an adult drama,” said Jessica Jones executive producer and Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Pasadena on Sunday. “And in an adult drama there is an element of sexuality that’s important and it was really important to establish because of what was happening with Jessica’s life, and in order to be able to show to people that what had happened with Kilgrave was not okay, but there are other situations where that kind of activity is okay. And so it wasn’t as though we just put it in there. It was there to even it out along the way and be able to tell a much larger story about this character and how she felt about it and really how all the women on the show felt about where they were and how they deal with sex in general and how important that is to address that and how unusual that is to be able to address that in a superhero genre show.”
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Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg added that since Kilgrave’s rape of Jones was a key part of the season and her backstory, showing that Jones’ sexuality wasn’t defeated by him was important. “Balance dealing with rape while having her sexually active, the word ‘survivor’ is the important part of that. Certainly the assault has become a part of her psyche, but it has not defeated her. I think she is fiercely her own person. She is unapologetically who she is and wants what she wants. She never let Kilgrave take that. … Everyone in that writing room, both men and women, we’re all feminists, we’re all humanists. We bring that perspective to any story we’re telling. The way in which those conversations would often happen is someone would pitch a story and then one of us would go, ‘Wait a minute, that’s really rapey,’ or, ‘That goes against what she would allow and what she would consent to’ … In terms of using the honeypot, that was a super cautious decision from the beginning. When you talk about going into a room and discussing issues, the one thing that I walked in there with is we’re not doing the honeypot. She is never going to put on a pair of heels and [sexy] dress and go and seduce the guy. One, it’s just not true to her character. She wouldn’t do that. But two, it’s just such a go-to for female characters in any kind of a cop show. It’s like, ‘Oh, we have a woman, let’s use her sexuality.’ “
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As far as shooting the scenes, star Krysten Ritter said: “It’s so choreographed, there’s really nothing sexy about it. We kind of pick on each other more like brother and sister. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”
Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage on the show and was Jones’ lover, added, “The awkward point is the people that are in the room besides us. It’s not us, we’re okay. It’s the 20 or 30 people who are all of a sudden are on set who normally wouldn’t be on set. I really thought that it turned out as good as it could have turned out. I’m surprised at the response to those scenes. I don’t think we’re thinking about that stuff consciously.”