‘Jessica Jones’ EP Melissa Rosenberg On Marvel & Netflix Series’ Final Season, #MeToo & What’s Next?
MILD SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of the third and final season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, which launched on Netflix today.
“I have to tell you, I feel incredibly proud of what was done,” states Marvel’s Jessica Jones executive producer Melissa Rosenberg firmly of the third and final season that launched on Netflix today. “It was a complete story and arc for our character. So that it ended was really right I think. It was serendipitous in a way.”
No deep spoilers if you are still planning a weekend binge (though I do suggest you check out my review here), but the 13-episodes of the Krysten Ritter starring series have the rather fortune of a true goodbye on-screen and for the title character and others portrayed by Rachael Taylor, Eka Darville and Carrie-Anne Moss as well. In that context, Rosenberg and I chatted about the show, what it was and how it came to end – even when that wasn’t the plan a year ago.
The fact is, having already signed a new overall deal with Warner Bros TV last August, the ex-Dexter EP was planning to move on from the Peabody Award winning show at the end of Season 3 anyway.
However, as work on that third cycle was well underway, it became clear that as part of the fallout of Disney forming its own streaming service and the shifts in Netflix’s original programming in recent years, that Marvel shows were on the chopping block. In short order, long before the cancellation became public on February 18 of this year, one swan song became a far larger endeavor – as Rosenberg unveils in our conversation.
DEADLINE: As Jimbo Morrison said, this is the end, my friend, but how much of a lead up did you have to this third season truly being the last one?
ROSENBERG: Initially, we entered the season with the anticipation potentially to get another season.
Always leave the doors open so you can have stories the next season I say, but about midway through, I realized that this would actually be my last season. I was sure that I wanted to move onto my deal over at Warner Bros. So, then it became a discussion of how do I want to leave it?
DEADLINE: Is what we’re seeing in Season 3 that discussion come to the screen?
ROSENBERG: Well, then we realized that, oh, Netflix was canceling the Marvel shows and we would definitely be next. So we had a ton of time to come to a satisfying end. It was really great, you know? We all kind of ended up leaving together and bringing it to a conclusion that felt was right to us.
DEADLINE: So is this the conclusion you wanted?
ROSENBERG: You know, the series, in my mind, as we would go through each season, the ending in my mind would constantly evolve. So by the time we got to the middle of Season 3, the writing it and breaking it, it became clear where it was headed and what we wanted to do. Each character kind of told us in some way where they wanted to go.
DEADLINE: How do you mean?
ROSENBERG: I feel like it’s three acts of a play, you know? It’s really a complete journey for all the characters, not just Jessica. I have to tell you, I feel incredibly proud of what was done. It did feel like it was a full story. It was a complete story and arc for our character. So that it ended was really right I think. It was serendipitous in a way.
DEADLINE: You guys are the last of the four Marvel series that were announced for Netflix with great fanfare back in 2013 in NYC. Now, after multiple seasons of each show and the addition of The Punisher, as Disney prepares to drop its own streaming service, Luke Cage, Iron First, Daredevil were canned and then in a twofer, Jessica Jones and Punisher were axed …
DEADLINE: So, in your opinion how did the Marvel Universe work in this connected television effort?
ROSENBERG: It was an exciting experiment and I think it was quite successful.
ROSENBERG: Yes but also, I never really approached anything from the point of view of being a part of the experiment. Even with the Defenders team-up, we always looked at ourselves as a separate individual world. Now, it was interesting when characters crossed to and fro. But every time we tried it, it was awkward and stood out because our world and actually each world, each one of these shows, are so different, a different set of rules and a different tone. So, really, I always just felt Jessica was alone in her own universe in a lot of ways.
ROSENBERG: For me as a viewer, it’s not about the whole. It’s about the individual characters and their journeys and the different creators bringing their voice to their work.
DEADLINE: At the end of this run then, what was the lesson learned for you are a creator on Jessica Jones?
ROSENBERG: Oh God! Character, character, character, you know? You can have all the special effects and action in the world, but if you’re not telling them through the eyes of the character experiencing these stories then it’s boring, at least for me. I’m not interested unless it’s a compelling character.
So, you know, every once in a while, whenever we would get off track and start thinking in terms of big action sequences or special effects type things, I would realize that we were getting lost. Character is what I love about genre writing, at least the way I like to do genre writing.
DEADLINE: In that, you mentioned the deal you inked with WB last summer, now that Jessica is over on Netflix, what’s next?
ROSENBERG: Honestly, I want to try something new. That’s the way one stays fresh as a writer, really pushing yourself into new territory. But I do love character-driven genre, so I’ll always be drawn to that, and you know, I love cool, kickass, complicated, damaged female characters, so that’s hint, maybe. (LAUGHS)
DEADLINE: That’s thankfully a growing genre today …
ROSENBERG: Yes, but when we first started off, there had not been a female superhero lead, much less a damaged one, in the Marvel universe, and really not a whole lot of them around in general. Now, by the time we’re doing our swan song, there are quite a few more. I kind of love the idea that we had anything whatsoever to do with that, but as an audience, as an avid TV viewer, I’m thrilled too.
DEADLINE: From the very first season, Jessica Jones went to some very dark and harsh places with storylines of PTSD, rape and more trauma. Those are topics that have gained greater profile in the overall public discourse and the industry since Season 1 launched in late 2015 …
ROSENBERG: Yes, and Season 2 had been completed too by the time the #MeToo movement burst out, and it was very interesting to see the intersection
You know, we’d gone into the season not from the point of view of, we wanted to take on this issue. It was really just following the character and following the journey of this character in a specific way. So when the spotlight on the issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment happened at the same time and we came out with Season 2 in 2018, it was quite overwhelming and moving to realize that we actually were reaching a lot of people and speaking to them in a really emotional way.
Honestly, out of some many things about this show, it just meant everything to me. You hope your entire career to contribute in some way to the world and to be a part of the greater conversation. We were and continue to be, having not even set out to be.
DEADLINE: Ritter puts in another very compelling performance this season and directed the second episode, but the deep bench of Carrie-Anne Moss and Rachel Taylor, not to mention Rebeca De Mornay are so strong too…
ROSENBERG: Can I just say, I love those actors, and Eka Darville who plays Malcolm. For me, it’s all a family, and their stories are all interconnected. These actors are just so extraordinary. I mean, where Rachael goes this season is really just stellar. The woman just goes places I can’t even believe, and Carrie-Anne Moss is just extraordinary. Getting to write for actors like that, getting to write for any of these four actors is such a treat. You bring your voice to the page, and then you see it elevated and expanded, and what a treat, you know?
Really, it’s been the honor of my career.
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