Episode Analysis She-Hulk: Whose Show is This?

The final episode of She-Hulk sadly reveals the many ways the show failed to live up to its potential.

Episode Analysis She-Hulk: Whose Show is This?
Image courtesy Marvel/Disney+

Warning: The following contains spoilers for She-Hulk through episode 9 and all of the MCU. Read at your own risk.



She-Hulk: Whose Show Is This? does the impossible. It makes me admit there are MCU Disney+ shows that are as bad and possibly even worse than Loki.

Yeah. I know.

Y’all I give up. I can’t love and support something if the show itself tells me flat out they didn’t give a shit.

Look, I’m all for the fourth wall break. It was great! Hell, do more of it! Go full Duck Amuck! But the problem is that the punchline rests on agreeing the past eight episodes were stupid. And not only that, ignoring the worst of it! I’m expected to believe Jen smashes the fourth wall to fix things and doesn’t point out they used her rape as a plot point?

Let’s even meet the show halfway. Let’s say Jen wasn’t raped - she was, but the show clearly doesn’t agree so for the sake of argument let’s accept their point of view. In which case Jen still had a sex tape taken without her consent. That tape was then posted on the internet and shown to her parents and NOBODY points out that’s a problem.

I was even willing to give the show a HUGE amount of leeway and say okay, are we pretending the sex tape didn’t happen then? But nope! Todd mentions it!

And even if we put the rape and sex tape of it all aside the show as a whole is a huge god damn mess. May as well get into it.

Why She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Was a Mess

Let me ask you something: other than “is a lawyer” and “is a Hulk” what do you know about Jennifer Walters?

I’ll help you out: why did Jen become a lawyer? What inspired her to go to law school? What’s her favorite part of practicing law? Is it making the case? Coming up with closing arguments? Helping her clients?

When Jen lost her job at the DA’s office and had a hard time finding another job, what upset her about this other than her inability to get a paycheck?

What causes does Jen believe in? Save the whales? Childhood poverty? Cancer research?

Why does Jen get up in the morning? What are her goals in life? Before becoming a Hulk, where did Jen see herself in five years? Why did that matter to her?

You starting to get the picture here? We’ve spent four and a half hours with this woman and we don’t know a thing about her. She’s an empty void that poor Tatiana Maslany (who I hope is using this paycheck for a nice long vacation somewhere) tried to act the shit out of with pretty much nothing to go on. I suspect Tatiana came up with an inner life for Jen to help with her acting but there’s nothing we see in the show that supports it.

I’m reminded of Katy in Shang-Chi who similarly had no inner life (we don’t even get told what she studied in college). Only, unlike Jen, Katy had a character arc. Katy starts the movie feeling directionless, she has a grand adventure, she ends the movie excited and ready for still more adventure.

What was Jen’s character arc? She started out as somebody ambivalent about being a Hulk and she ended up there too. Sure at the very end she says she’s going to help people but what people? People hurt by super villains? People who fall through the cracks of the system? Victims of tax fraud?

And let’s talk about Jennifer Walters and She-Hulk as a hero. During nine episodes of this show can you name a moment Jen had a victory that was based on her powers and/or who she is as a person?

Actually, let’s take a step back: when did Jen have a victory at all? Can we name those moments without having to stop and think? I bet you haven’t seen the first Iron Man movie in a while but if I asked you to name a badass moment you’d have no problem coming up with the shot of Tony walking away from that explosion.

When did Jen get a badass moment? She has none. Okay, when did she get a win?

Well here she sort of had some. She won that case for Wong, for example. Only the way she did it was by making the guy sign the papers when he was indebted to her for saving him from demons, a fight she didn’t even want to be involved with. She won her case against Titania but only by being humiliated with all her dates making fun of her under oath.

Even the finale episode is Jen “winning” via cheat code. Breaking the fourth wall isn’t a She-Hulk power, it’s a genre of hers. In contrast Deadpool’s fourth wall breaking is part of his powers. It’s as much an ability of Wade’s as his healing. Jen’s abilities are supposed to be her skills as a lawyer and her physical prowess as a She-Hulk.

Putting Jen aside for a moment, what about the other characters? Who is Mallory? Is she Jen’s friend? Frenemy? Other? What does Nikki do other than wear interesting clothes and serve as a plot device for Jen’s needs?

Can you name a motivation for a single character on this show? And before you say Todd make sure you take a moment. Was Todd’s driving goal to humiliate She-Hulk or to become a supervillain? Yeah, it’s possible for him to want do do both. That’s not the issue. The issue is can you name why?

At the end of nine episodes the only character with clear motivations is Titania. She wants to bite She-Hulk’s style because she wants to be a rich and famous influencer. We have no clue how that relates to Titania’s powers but at least it’s more motivation than we ever learned about the lead character of this show.

Speaking of motivations, how about the show itself? What was this show? What was its goal? What humor was it trying for? What story?

Put it this way: even though they share an actor there is no doubt that an episode of Married With Children feels nothing like Modern Family. You turn on either one of those shows and you know exactly what you are getting. Did we ever have that feeling with She-Hulk? “It’s a lawyer show!” okay but is it though? What about the law drove this show? How did it connect to the characters? Was it supposed to be a show that mined comedy from the quirks of law in a world with superheroes? Was it a workplace comedy about lawyers? Was it actually not a lawyer show but more a slice of life about a 30something woman who happened to be a lawyer? Other?

I could go on and on - particularly in how the “sex positive” claim of this show was similarly never supported by the text - but you get the idea. There’s no through line to anything in this show, from the show itself to the main character to any of the plotlines.

And then you wrap all of that up with the final episode where the fourth wall break of “Boy this writing sucks!” is supposed to make it better. Except it doesn’t because first up you’re admitting that making us watch four hours of badly written TV was on purpose. (Only I don’t think it was because I don’t think they realize how bad things were. See also: raping the lead character.)

But next the “fix” for the bad writing is either different bad writing (ex. Jen gets the outcome she wants and we skip to that without seeing it play out, it just happens) or the same bad writing but at a different time (ex. Jen tells KEVIN to not introduce Hulk movie stuff in her show…. and the show introduces Hulk movie stuff anyway.)

And don’t even get me started on how tasteless it was for them to be making jokes about the VFX teams when it’s well known now how much Disney underpays and overworks them. Instead I’m just going to point out maybe decisions about VFX should’ve included things like is it worth it to spend the time and money on Hulk, Abomination, Hulk’s kid, and coming up with a brand new Hulk form for Todd instead of spreading that out on making the lead of your show not look like she was drawn into each of her scenes with crayon?

I had all sorts of notes for this particular writeup. Notes about the idea of the fourth wall and how it could’ve been used to help us get to know Jen as a person, about the wedding episode and the missed opportunity there to learn more about Jen (huh, a pattern is emerging here), and on and on. But honestly I’m not going to waste my time. Notes are for when things have an ability to be improved, or at least learned form. When the show reveals it had no foundation to stand on there’s no point saying how they could’ve done the window treatments better.

What a freaking waste.


As always, things that didn’t fit anywhere else

  • The fact that Jen’s only actually positive experience with sex involved Matt Murdock strongly hints that they cared more about making sure Matt came off well than they did about Jen
  • “I’m just getting screwed over” is a great summation of everything that happened to Jen in her own show. Why was that the theme?
  • “Is this what you want?” - why is Jen getting pissed at us about it? People who tuned in to a She-Hulk show wanted to see Jen succeed. Not just as a concept for superhero shows but because this is one of the extremely rare female-led MCU properties. The audience for this show was not made up of the incels trying to tear her down.
  • Related, that’s yet another thing Jen doesn’t use her fourth wall break to fix. She talks about male superheroes and their daddy issues but doesn’t ask why it’s so hard to get more female led projects?
  • Why was I supposed to be rooting for She-Hulk to beat the crap out of minimum wage security guards?
  • I hope the person who spent time coming up with the design for KEVIN to have a lens that looks like a hat appreciates how the show made fun of how much Disney abuses VFX teams. That had to be a fun feeling when they watched the show air.
  • One last thing the final episode proved was that it was always better to let Tatiana be Tatiana. As awful as the show and this episode was you can’t argue that she didn’t act the shit out of every scene. Oh to live in the variant world where this show gave her more leeway to do what she does best and didn’t hide so much of her performance with CGI.
  • Sigh.

I’d say at least we have Interview With the Vampire but after this show my trust issues have been dialed back up to 11. What a waste.

Thanks for staying with me on the journey, at least.

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