From executive producer Melissa Rosenberg, Marvel’s Jessica Jones is back for Season 2 (available to stream at Netflix), forcing the reluctant superhero to confront who she really is while digging deeper into her past to explore the reasons why. Being known throughout the city as a super-powered killer is torture for Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), who just wants to be left alone with her anger and a stiff drink, rather than being drawn into other people’s problems or forced to confront her own. But in order to survive an immediate and deadly threat, Jessica must step out of the shadows and look into the secrets of her past, in order to move forward.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, showrunner Melissa Rosenberg talked about when Jessica Jones is at its best, expanding and deepening the characters, living up to the expectation for the first season, having female directors for all 13 episodes, the partnership she’s developed with lead actress Krysten Ritter, how Kilgrave’s appearance in Season 2 came to be, the addition of Janet McTeer, that Jessica and Trish (Rachael Taylor) is the central relationship in the series, and why being a showrunner is the best job in the world.
Collider: Looking back on the first season of Jessica Jones, when do you feel that the show was at its best and how did you build on that for Season 2?
MELISSA ROSENBERG: The show is at its best when it is coming from a place of character. That’s really how we build the season and it’s how we build the scenes in the series. It’s really starting from the inside out. That was something we felt, very much, in the first season, and that’s how we approached the second season, as well.
What was easier this season because you’d already done a season of this series, and what was harder because you’d already done a season?
ROSENBERG: With Season 1, we were being creative, as we went along. We were all finding our footing – the actors in their roles, the writers and me – and trying to figure out who these people are, what the rules of the world are, the tone, and the look and feel. By the end of Season 1, I think we really established all of that for ourselves. With Season 2, we got to play in that. You’re not building it from scratch. You’re building certain characters from scratch, but you’re not building the world and your regular actors anymore. In Season 1, you build the highway, and in Season 2, you get to drive on it.
Did you feel pressure because people loved the first season so much?
ROSENBERG: Yeah. What made it a bigger challenge was that Season 1 was so well-received and such a success that the expectation level, from our expectation of ourselves and the expectation of the audience, has gone up exponentially. That’s very intimidating. We looked at Season 2 and said, “Season 1 set the bar really high. We’re not gonna repeat ourselves. We’ve done it once and we’re not gonna do it any better than the first time, so we’re gonna try to do something different.” That’s what we’ve done.
How did it feel to have all 13 episodes directed by women, this season?
ROSENBERG: It was lovely! It really began organically. I started this season knowing that I wanted at least half of the directors to be women and/or people of color. As we went along, we realized that there’s a very deep bench of very talented, very experienced pros. It was my colleagues over at Netflix who said, “Well, just do all 13.” It was born out of just looking around and seeing who was out there. We’ve got a really talented line-up. No one was giving anyone any breaks here. These women all have a long list of credits and we’re fortunate to have gotten all of them.
Since it seems much more like a partnership than just a working relationship, what have you most enjoyed about the collaboration that you have with your lead actress, Krysten Ritter?
ROSENBERG: It’s just an incredible stroke of good fortune that I get to work with her and that she’s my muse. We really come from the same place with the character. She works from the inside out, as do I. She’s someone with whom I can collaborate on building this character and we both experience her, in the same way. There’s no two people who are more passionate about this character than she and I. We both are driven to dig in, in a way that is exciting to bounce off one another. She just has such insight and is so smart about it.
How much of this season did you think about, as you were laying the groundwork in Season 1, and were you thinking about where you could go with a third season while you were laying the groundwork for Season 2?
ROSENBERG: Not really. Writing is tough. Coming up with story is tough. You make sure to leave enough doors open, at the end of the season, to have some material to play with, if you choose to, in another season, if you get another season. But it’s really about leaving it all on the floor, when you’re in the middle of it.