Friday 11 December 2015

What will we do without a shower - where am I supposed to cry?

It would certainly have made the uneven and cliched Jessica Jones a lot more enjoyable if I'd got that memo everyone else did telling me I was supposed to be enjoying rape backstories for tough female characters now, rather than finding them tiresome and lazy storytelling, but here we are again with Into The Badlands.  A post-apocalyptic martial arts series based on Journey To The West - the only Chinese story that has ever been written apparently - it's not always misogynistic trash, it's just that those elements tend to stick out more amongst the mish-mash of other things appropriated from elsewhere.  The kung-fu is often inventive and fun, and carries the rest of the show well, though mostly it's just a nice-looking power struggle in a setting that looks like a conflation of a stereotypical Asian culture and Depression-era America.  It's not rocket science, but it's engaging enough to hold the attention so far, coming off as a well-made late-80s/early-90s straight-to-video post-apocalyptic action film - and lord knows, I do like me some of them.
Of the aforementioned Jessica Jones, I can only say that while by no means a poorly-made show, for me it is likely the weakest of the Marvel offerings so far, reliant as it is upon well-worn storytelling tropes and the dubious novelty of a female lead in an age where roughly 90 percent of television has a female lead.  To make their female lead more distinctive in a crowded field, they make her unlikeable and give her many character flaws - yes, you can already see where I'm going with this, can't you?  There is nothing new to be seen in Jessica Jones, though its attempts to second-guess its audience's tolerance for spandex-clad adventurers might be noteworthy, as it has spectacularly bet on the wrong horse in a tv season notable for having quite a few successful and highly visible superhero shows in contrast to JJ taking the well-worn "it's a superhero show but we don't do superheroes in it" beloved of Smallville and Heroes, now possibly as much an embarrassing anachronism in itself as adventurers in primary-coloured unitards once were.

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