Television Review: Daredevil’s first season explores the human costs of gentrification

“This is my city” – Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, at various points in Daredevil’s first season.

The battle between Daredevil and Wilson Fisk is a battle for Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, and what each of them perceives to be the ‘soul’ of the city. Wilson Fisk, Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson all grew up in Hell’s kitchen, and from what we see in the first season of Daredevil (mainly through flashbacks), it wasn’t a great place to live. But it’s home. Matt Murdock, Foggy Nelson and Wilson Fisk all want the same thing; to rid their home of crime and make it a great place for future generations to grow up. For our heroes, this means using the law to try and protect people like Mrs Cardenas from being forced out of their rent-controlled apartments (and Matt beating up bad guys by night). For Fisk, it means getting rid of those rent-controlled apartments and replacing them with fancier apartments and condominiums to attract a different kind of resident. In Fisk’s eyes, Hell’s Kitchen is the Next Great Gentrification Project, because gentrification eliminates the criminal element of the lower classes, even if he’s in business with the people who manufacture and distribute the drugs he’s using to finance his dream. What I admire about Daredevil’s first season is that these events are a heightened reflection of what has been happening in these areas of Manhattan over the past couple of decades.

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What I’ve been watching, April edition

It’s 10:30 pm on ANZAC Day and I haven’t bothered to start a review of anything (it’s been quite a busy day – because the shops don’t open until 1pm, I went to the supermarket with mum at 1:30 and I’ve never seen it so busy in my life), so I’m going to write a quick update of what I’ve been watching other than my regularly reviewed shows this week.

Mad Men: I have no idea where this season of Mad Men is going. I don’t really have much more to say than that. Mad Men always seems to start slowly, I remember not being too enamoured with it at the same time in season 7A. Then I watched “The Strategy” which I think is my favourite episode of the show to date. Between the dancing scene and Don, Peggy and Pete eating at Burger Chef, there was so much depth and history to all of those characters and their relationships with each other that I ignored whatever else was going on. I’d be fascinated to see whether or not Weiner can top that.

Game of Thrones: In the hypothetical piece I’m writing about finales, I might also write about premieres, because the internet has been complaining that this season has started slowly. I watch Game of Thrones for the scenes where there are two people talking in a room, like that scene in the first season with Robert and Cersei as they reminisced on their marriage, not for the big events like The Red Wedding, which was admittedly devastating. Joffrey died in the second episode of season four, and Daenerys burned Astapor to the ground in the fourth episode of season three, but I can’t remember anything like that happening in the first half of the first two seasons. And now they’re going off-book I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m excited anyway.

Marvel’s Daredevil: I started watching this a few days ago after I heard the latest instalment of The Station Agents, where Joanna Robinson and Dustin Rowles said that it had ruined all other comic book shows for them. I don’t watch any other comic book shows at all, but I was looking for something to watch so I didn’t burn through the fourth season of Lost too quickly, and it’s great. I love that there’s character work, and also the twin issues of crime and gentrification in Hell’s Kitchen, which is an interesting angle for the show to explore. I haven’t read any of the comic books, so I have no idea whether this is a storyline they’ve used. Either way, I think that comic books are better suited to television than film, because if you’re telling an origin story you can get it out of the way quickly, or deploy it sporadically in flashbacks as Daredevil does, rather than devoting an entire feature length film to it. The performances are wonderful; for me the highlight is Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page (there should also be more Rosario Dawson), and I’m so happy it’s been renewed for a second season.

Suits: I love watching Harvey and Mike do their thing. I’ve written about Suits before, and I’ve nearly finished the third season and it sort of got interesting when Louis caught onto Mike’s lie. I say ‘sort of’ because I don’t particularly care that Mike does not have a law degree, it was fine for the first two seasons, but can’t it just be a fun legal drama now? Donna is still the best character, and I’m torn about whether I want Harvey to be with him or Scotty. Is Harvey even good enough for Donna? The correct answer is no, because no one is good enough for Donna.

The PowerPuff Girls: There was one stage when I was embarrassed about liking this show (mainly because an ex shamed me for it), but that was a stupid thing to be embarrassed about, because this show is great. The fourth season is available for streaming on Stan, and watching it over ten years after I loved it has opened up a different side of the show for me. Once they started making longer episodes, they were able to explore their ideas more, and the fourth season episode “Members Only” explores issues of gender in a much more complex way than many “adult” shows that are airing right now.