The MCU has always been criticized for the lack of female superheroes (until they changed that in 2017). It cannot be denied that the production of ‘Jessica Jones’ is a remarkable adaption, which paved the way for new female characters to step in the universe. Adapted by screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg from co-creators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos’ comic book series of the same name, the show features the titular Jessica Jones, essayed by Krysten Ritter, whose superhero career seems to be going at a dead end. She tries to rebuild her life by turning into a private investigator where she uses her abilities to solve horrific crimes in New York City.
The show is very well written but was unfortunately cancelled. Still, with a span of three seasons, ‘Jessica Jones’ is an amazing watch. It blends the aesthetics of the superhero genre with the dark tones of neo-noir. By doing so, the makers explore quite a lot of themes and issues such as sexuality, rape, assault and post-traumatic stress disorder, which makes for an engaging experience.
For this article, I have taken into account shows that blend a genre with neo-noir. They may not have similar storylines but are thematically and stylistically similar to this modern TV classic. So, here’s the list of best shows similar to ‘Jessica Jones’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these series like ‘Jessica Jones’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
10. Bloodline (2015-2017)
‘Bloodline’, a Netflix original, follows the Rayburn’s — a family which is forced to confront their past secrets and scars when one of the members, Danny Rayburn, known as the “black sheep” of the family due to his ill-repute, returns home for the parents’ anniversary. The show is built on the performances of Ben Mendelsohn and Kyle Chandler and the brooding cinematography by Jaime Reynoso. Although the series is primarily written as a thriller, it equally functions as a family drama. Though the show started on an extremely positive note in the first season, the quality of the succeeding seasons dipped due incoherency in the writing. Nonetheless, it is a good watch, particularly due to the performances and the cinematography.
9. Veronica Mars (2004–2007)
Created by Rob Thomas, ‘Veronica Mars’ follows the titular character Verona Mars, essayed by Kristin Bell, who turns into an investigator after her best friend is murdered and as a result, her father is removed as the county Sheriff. When she starts to excavate the crimes, she finds out the mysteries of the prosperous town of Neptune. The show blends elements of neo-noir, which is its primary genre, with elements of coming of age. One of the major reasons for its unique mix is the writing experience of Rob Thomas, who is credited to writing other teen dramas such as ‘90210’ (2008–2013). Though not a critical darling, the show is quite a good watch in terms of its narrative uniqueness. It premiered in 2004 and ran for three seasons. It has now taken over by Hulu and a fourth season will release on July 26, 2019.
8. iZombie (2015– )
An adaptation of Chris Roberson and Michael Allred’s comic book of the same name, ‘iZombie’ follows Olivia “Liv” Moore, essayed by Rose McIver, a former medical resident who turns into a zombie after consuming an illegal drug. While she is mortified by her new anatomy, she slowly realizes that it has its perks and now assists the police to solve crimes. Developed by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright, ‘iZombie’ is a combination of horror, comedy and mystery which makes for an engaging and entertaining watch. The show received quite a number of positive reviews for its narrative, writing, and performances, earning 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was released in 2015 and has gone on for five seasons. The fifth one premiered in May of 2019.
7. How to Get Away with Murder (2014 – )
Created by writer and producer Peter Nowalk, ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ follows a group of determined and striving law students and their cerebral criminal defence professor, Annalise Keating, essayed by Viola Davis, who get embroiled in a perverted murder plot that changes the course of their lives. While the writing of the show is cohesive and coherent, what makes it such an enjoyable and gripping experience are the performances, especially that of Davis, who won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series. The narrative of the show constructs the premise along the lines of a thriller. The show debuted on ABC in 2014 and has been renewed for a sixth season which is set to release in 2019.
6. Fargo (2014– )
A remake of Joel and Ethan Coen’s classic black comedy ‘Fargo’ (1996), the show’s narrative is structured as an anthology, set in Fargo, North Dakota and chronicles deception, intrigue and murder among the common people, the authority and the criminals. Developed by writer and producer Noah Hawley onto the small screen, ‘Fargo’ is a blend of the noir and black comedy. The show boasts of some of the most talented actors in television such as Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Patrick Wilson, Kirsten Dunst and Ewan McGregor, who are the soul of the narrative. Though none of the seasons could reach the level of the first one, on the whole, ‘Fargo’ is an engaging watch throughout.
5. Dexter (2006–2013)
Based on playwright and crime novelist Jeff Lindsay’s ‘Darkly Dreaming Dexter’, published in 2004, ‘Dexter’ is a crime drama that follows the titular Dexter Morgan, essayed by Michael C. Hall, a forensic technician who specializes in blood spatter pattern analysis and works for the fictional Miami Metro Police Department. However, after using his abilities for the work of the police, Dexter leads a more dominant life as a vigilante serial killer, as he hunts down murderers who have escaped justice through the loopholes in the system. Developed by James Manos Jr., the show is not only a crime drama but also functions as a horror. The scenes of Dexter murdering his victims are grotesque, gory and terrifying. The show has eight seasons and received critical praise for the mature adaptation and the thrilling performances.
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4. Westworld (2016 – )
‘Westworld’ balances so many genres that it’s a wonder as to how the show still hasn’t collapsed after three seasons. Adapted from Michael Crichton’s film of the same name, which was released in 1973, the show is set in the titular Westworld, which is a technologically advanced Wild-West-themed amusement park populated by android hosts. The park caters to the high-paying guests who indulge in their wildest and raunchiest fantasies within the park without fear of retaliation from the hosts as they are prevented by their programming from harming humans.
Developed as a science fiction Western, ‘Westworld’ is extremely haunting and disturbing, but the writers cerebrally do not go overboard with any of its core elements. The narrative is complemented by the actors who execute their performances with astonishing brilliance. The show premiered in 2016 on HBO and the first season became the most watched season of any HBO original, even beating the masterful ‘True Detective’. The show has been renewed for a third season, which will make its debut in 2020.
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3. Hannibal (2013–2015)
A psychological horror thriller, ‘Hannibal’ is an adaption of Thomas Harris’ novels featuring the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lector and the competent but conflicted FBI special investigator Will Graham. Developed by writer and producer Bryan Fuller, the show stars the criminally underappreciated Mads Mikkelsen as the tarrying yet charming serial killer and Hugh Dancy as Graham. What makes the show such an interesting watch is the intrinsic character development that glacially builds its course alongside the narrative of the crime. Though the series is the sixth adaptation on screen, it does not play on the lines of the films, which makes it so much more interesting. It is essentially a horror piece, despite elements of psychological thriller. The show, since its premiere, has received huge critical applause for its tone, writing, direction and performances, all of which have garnered a number of awards over the three seasons.
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2. Twin Peaks (1990–1991)
David Lynch is a pioneering figure in blending surrealism and horror into narratives of mystery thrillers, and he brought forth his genius vision on the small screen with the mystery horror drama series ‘Twin Peaks’ (1990-1991). Co-created by Lynch and Mark Frost, ‘Twin Peaks’ centres around FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, essayed by Kyle MacLachlan, a detective who arrives in the fictional town of Twin Peak in Washington after homecoming queen Laura Palmer, played by Sheryl Lee, is brutally murdered. The show is an archetypal Lynch creation where the narrative interweaves the elements of detective and neo-noir fiction with unsettling horror. In addition, Frank Byers’ disquieting cinematography and Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting score elevate the disturbing atmosphere to a whole new level. The show was one of the most acclaimed pieces of works in the 90s and paved the way for writers and directors to use its literary palette to create their own disconcerting shows.
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1. Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995)
‘Batman: The Animated Series’ is probably the most intellectually mature cartoon shows to have ever been produced. Brought on to the small screen by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski, the animated television series bases its narrative foundation on superhero and neo-noir detective fiction. Unlike the films of the 80s and 90s, this show steps into the territories of mystery and detective fiction which was what the ‘Batman’ comics were all about. With the dark tone and film noir visuals, the show isn’t just a cartoon fest for kids to enjoy but is a perceptive piece of work for adults to engage. In addition, the voice performances, i.e. primarily of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred Pennyworth, Bob Hastings as Commissioner James Gordo and most importantly, Mark Hamill as The Joker, create a sense of personalization due to their brilliant work. The show went on to win four Emmy Awards and is often rated as one of the best-animated shows of all time.
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