Is Max Tatum From ‘Jessica Jones’ Based On A Real Director? His History With Trish Is Troubling
Spoilers for Jessica Jones Season 2, Episodes 1-3. Jessica Jones deals with all kinds of monstrous men in her line of work, and Season 2 introduces a character who's only slightly less monstrous than Kilgrave. During Jessica's investigation into the truth behind IGH, Trish crosses path with a director she had worked with during her child star years. And some shocking revelations could cause fans to question whether Max Tatum from Jessica Jones is based on a real director.
Jessica Jones was both overdue and ahead of its time. The anger that Jessica feels at the world and the men who have abused her and others preceded the widespread frustration that would manifest in the #MeToo and Time's Up movements social media movements. The various abuse accusations that shook the world in 2017 are manifested in Trish's anger at a director who, as it's revealed, began a sexual relationship with her when she just a child. When Max Tatum (James McCaffrey) was 40 years old, he abused the 15-year-old Trish with the consent of her abusive mother in exchange for a role in one of his films. And while there's no indication that Tatum is based on any specific real person, it's very likely that the character was inspired by the recent outpouring of accusations in the film industry.
Trish attempts to blackmail Tatum with this information and a secretly taped confession to get dirt on a hospital that she's investigating which lists Tatum amongst its donors. But things get much more violent when Jessica gets involved.
It's telling that Tatum's attempt at a final word on the subject of what he did to Trish is, "Go public. See if you can handle the scrutiny." Tatum seems confident that the pervasive rape culture that allowed him to take advantage of an underage actor will also protect him from accusations that came up over a decade after the event occurred. Even after the movements that have encouraged people to speak up against abuse, there is still stigma against those who do come forward with their own abuse experiences, and women whose accounts are questioned by men who claim to be allies to women. It's an unfortunate reality that if Trish did speak up against Max Tatum, she would certainly face backlash — especially as a public figure.
Of course, Jessica won't accept that version of events. Once she's made aware of Tatum's connection to IGH, she does not hesitate to take out her anger over Tatum's abuse of those beneath him. "I'm angry," Jessica informs Max. "And I'm not sure there's anything I won't do anymore. Especially to a prick like you who thinks they can take whoever and whatever you want." Max insists that the only person he ever slept with who was underage was Trish because he "loved" her. Jessica punches a hole through his Tesla.
The ultimate enemy of Jessica Jones, more than IGH or Kilgrave, is the act of taking advantage of a weaker or less resourced person. The series focuses on the many ways through which people abuse one other and even themselves. It examines the toll that that can take on a human being. Years of experiments may have left Jessica with super strength, but at what cost? Trish's mom may have given her a successful childhood career, but was the violation worth it?
Season 2 of Jessica Jones puts conversations about consent and power under a microscope, analyzing the complexity of how and why people take advantage of one another. While Max Tatum can't be traced back to one real director, the character is representative of an entire culture of abuse.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.