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Spoilers ahead for both Dexter and Jessica Jones.
Popular TV dramas are a tricky thing. While the first season or so tend to pour out of the creative team, it can be hard to maintain the same sense of urgency and excitement as the years go on. We've seen countless series jump the shark, with previously critically acclaimed shows petering out and becoming stale in later seasons. So what exactly can be done to prevent this fate? Jessica Jones creator, showrunner, and writer Melissa Rosenberg seems to have the solution- and she learned it the hard way with some of her earlier work.
Melissa Rosenberg recently spoke to the good folks over at Esquire, where she spoke about what to expect from Jessica Jones' second season on Netflix. When discussing how to approach the title character in Season 2, she revealed what not to do when exploring later seasons of a series. She seemed to have seen a certain problem first hand when working on Showtime's Dexter.
I learned from working on Dexter that you can advance the character, but you never want to cure the character. With Dexter, the moment he felt guilt or accepted that he was 'bad,' the show's over. He's no longer a sociopath. The equivalent for us would be if Jessica somehow recovered from the damage that had been done to her. People don't just heal, you don't go through that just to say, 'Oh, he got arrested, he's in jail, I'm OK now.' That trauma is a huge part of who she is now.
This is a pretty excellent point. While Dexter started off as an amazing series, earning quite a few Emmy noms in the process, it fizzled as the show went on. Let's break down exactly what Melissa Rosenberg is referring to, and how it related to Jessica Jones.
Part of what made Dexter such an awesome series is how the main character was an anti-hero. It's no easy feat to make an unapologetic serial killer and sociopath into a protagonist who the audience really roots for. Sure he only killed bad people, but he was still a killer. But in Season 5 Dexter began to feel guilt over the death of Rita, and things started taking a funky turn. Dexter always said he couldn't feel anything- so changing this was a big departure.
In relation to Jessica Jones, this means retaining Jessica's post traumatic stress, as well as her alcoholism, is needed in order for the show to retain its charm. Jessica is an extremely flawed hero, which brings realism to an otherwise fantastic concept. If she were to suddenly have recovered from Kilgrave's abuse, she wouldn't be the same character- even if she ended up winning the battle and taking his life at the end of Season 1.
And if Jessica is going to continue being affected by Kilgrave, then perhaps we'll be able to see more of David Tennant on Jessica Jones. While he'll presumably stay dead, he may just live on in her mind. This would be a great way to keep an outstanding actor on the series while also keeping the show consistent.