She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

She-Hulk s1

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Paul Asay

TV Series Review

Jennifer Walters is, shall we say, unique in the legal world. Not only has she passed the bar, but she can bend one, too. In fact, she can take several iron bars and turn ’em into heavy, highly unedible pretzels.

It’s a nice skill to have—though it’s somewhat of a liability in the courtroom. For one, it tends to ruin Jen’s best suits. For another, turning into a green, 6-foot-7 Hulk can distract the jury from even the best of closing arguments.

Olive Toil

If Jen had had her druthers, she would’ve just been a lawyer—not lawyer-slash-superhero or lawyer-slash-monster or lawyer-slash-anything else. And so she was once.

But then one day, while driving about with her cousin, Bruce Banner, a spaceship drops from the sky and Bruce (in spite of his familiarity with dropping spaceships) drives clean off the road. Both Bruce and Jen are reasonably OK, but both are bleeding. Wouldn’t you know it, some of Bruce’s gamma-ray-infected blood seeps into an open cut on Jen’s arm. And because Jen shares the same gamma-twisting genes as Bruce does, she doesn’t immediately keel over and die, as most of us would: She turns green and starts smashing things.

But the Hulk smash! stage of her journey lasts only a transformation or two. Her personality never really changes, for one thing: Whether she’s normal or green, she’s still recognizably Jen. And because she’s way more used to controlling her anger than Bruce ever was (because she has to deal with, ugh, sexist men), Jennifer can transform at will. Which means she can slip off her heels when the need arises. Jen may be a lawyer, but it’d still be pretty expensive to buy a new pair of Jimmy Choo’s every time she needed to beat somebody up.

And beat she must. While Jen would still like to do most of her fighting in the more subdued confines of the courtroom, evildoers notoriously like to skirt the judicial system. Take Titania, who had always assumed that she was the strongest woman in the world. Now that she knows there’s a not-so-jolly-green gal running about, she’s out to knock Jennifer down a size or two. Literally.

But Titania may be small (if muscle-bound) potatoes compared to a clandestine crew that may want to do away with She-Hulk forever.

Green, Not Clean

In one of her many fourth-wall-breaking asides, Jen (played by the Emmy-winning Tatiana Maslany) tells viewers that She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a “fun lawyer show.” But, of course, you can file that particular court brief under denial.

Jen doesn’t want to be a superhero, but She-Hulk is a superhero show—the eighth and latest television installment for Marvel’s sprawling Phase Four. (The first three phases culminated with Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home.) She’ll likely be a major player in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe in a post Tony Stark/Steve Rogers cosmos.

And like many of the Disney+/Marvel television offerings, She-Hulk comes with a willingness to make fun of itself. At least at first.

While the CGI comes off as a bit second rate, the core conceit is pretty fun. She-Hulk plays with superhero tropes and leverages Maslany’s charismatic versatility. It sticks a comic actress (Jameela Jamil of The Good Place) in as the villain—a character as concerned with her social media brand as with She-Hulk. Even the show’s title seems to owe a bit of something to Cartoon Network’s Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, a comic, revisionist take on a 1970s Hanna-Barbera animated superhero.

But as Marvel continues to push into weirder, even sillier territory, it seems to push the content envelope, too.

Violence, of course, will be a part of any superhero story. But as mentioned, Jen doesn’t want to be a superhero. And in some respects, she doesn’t act like one. Drinking is on the table. As is occasional profanity. As are sexual encounters (though nothing critical is seen). While She-Hulk doesn’t smash past what you’d expect to see in many Marvel TV shows, it does seem to enjoy edging up as close to the line as it can—then giggling as it scampers away, as if it was a high-schooler TP’ing a neighbor’s house.

Yes, Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, can bend bars as well as pass them. But she may bend many a parent’s patience, too. And this attorney-at-law may run afoul of many families’ own rules.

Episode Reviews

Sept. 29, 2022 – S1, Ep7: “The Retreat”

Jen sleeps with her boyfriend, who immediately seems to fall off the face of the Earth. She worries that she might’ve been ghosted. But while she’d love to just keep checking her phone every 30 seconds for a text, she has other pressing matters. Emil Blonsky—aka The Abomination, aka Jen’s first client as She-Hulk—is on parole with a court-appointed change-inhibitor strapped to his ankle. Blonksy’s opened a spiritual retreat center where he serves, of course, as the resident guru. But when Blonsky’s parole officer learns that the inhibitor is malfunctioning, he needs to make sure that the guy hasn’t, y’know, changed. And he asks Jen to come along as backup.

Apparently, the inhibitor shorted out after Blonsky rescued his favorite chicken (Princess Silk Feather) from an electric fence. And when some of Blonsky’s patients wreck Jen’s car, she’s forced to spend an afternoon at Blonsky’s retreat—and given a chance to work on some of her own issues.

We meet a bevy of D-list Marvel characters at Blonsky’s retreat: Indeed, a fight between two of them (Man-Bull and El Aguila) ruins Jen’s car when Man-Bull is thrown on its hood. A group-therapy session also includes Saracen (whom, we’re told, “thinks he’s a vampire,” and who makes several comments about sucking blood) and Porcupine (whose heavy costume apparently reeks). Also in attendance: a thug who’d attacked Jen some episodes before. Not surprisingly, she quickly turns into She-Hulk and tosses him into a stack of folding chairs, threatening to “shred him” when she’s allowed to.

We see Jen pull her beau (Josh) into her apartment as they kiss. Later, Jen wakes up in bed (we see her bare back and part of her side) and soon texts Josh, telling her how much fun she had. (We also see her wrapped in a towel after a shower at one point.) When Josh doesn’t text her back, Nikki tells her not to worry. “It’s just the first 12 hours after you sleep with someone for the first time. It’s just going to feel icky.”

We see Jen do yoga. Blonsky’s retreat features a statue of the Buddha and a sign that says Abomaste. Someone compares a smell to a “fart”.

Sept. 22, 2022—S1, Ep6: “Just Jen”

Jen is asked to serve as a bridesmaid in the wedding of an old friend. The friend has an important stipulation: no upstaging her by turning into, y’know, the green thing. But when Titania finagles her way into the wedding too, Jen realizes she may have no choice. Meanwhile back at the office, Jen’s paralegal friend, Nikki, and her fellow lawyer, Mallory Book, defend a guy who calls himself Mr. Immortal from a slew of angry exes.

As perhaps you gathered, Mr. Immortal cannot die. He also has tried his hand at marriage. “Several times,” he adds. “In fact, it could be said that no one has tried more than me. Probably literally.” But when he deems a relationship is over, he doesn’t ask for divorce or engage in discomforting conversation: Rather, he fakes his own death and moves on. (He proves how much he hates awkward conversations when he leaps out of Mallory’s office window and lands on a security vehicle several floors below. He dusts himself and walks on, apparently no worse for the tumble.)

Most of his jilted spouses are women. But Mr. Immortal was once married to a man, as well—who complains that he spent $10,000 on a New Orleans funeral after Immortal “accidentally” swallowed a cyanide pill. (We hear other ways in which he faked his death, too.) We learn that Mr. Immortal fathered at least one child.

[Spoiler Warning] At the wedding, Jen drinks heavily and, ultimately, throws up in a flower bed. Titania then punches her in the face, demanding she transform. Jen eventually does, and the two fight—culminating in Titania slipping on ice, falling face-first on the floor and knocking askew her tooth veneers.

Characters wear clothes that sport quite a bit of cleavage. The bride-to-be comments on the size of She-Hulk’s chest. A website features several death threats against She-Hulk. Nikki says that killing a “fun person” would be doubly sinful. Characters say “a–,” “crap” and “h—,” and they misuse God’s name five times.

Sept. 15, 2022 – S1, Ep5: “Mean, Green, and Straight Poured Into These Jeans”

Jennifer must do battle with the mighty superpowered influencer Titania not on the streets, but in court. Seems that Titania has copyrighted the name “She-Hulk” for a line of somewhat questionable cosmetics. Now She-Hulk must show that she is, y’know, She-Hulk—which might not be as easy as it looks. Meanwhile, Jennifer’s friend Nikki convinces a fashionable superhero tailor to make Jennifer a set of very stretchy business suits.

Jennifer ultimately pins her legal argument on her dating life, where she signed up for a dating app as “She-Hulk” and went on several questionable dates. Her profile included the show’s suggestive title. And when she said on her profile what she was looking for in a guy, she wrote, “A sturdy back and a reinforced king-sized bed.” (She indicated that she was just kidding. But was she?)

A couple of women display a good bit of cleavage in court. Titania markets several She-Hulk products, including a “She-Hulk Booty Boost Smoothie.” The superhero tailor’s office includes a bit of body armor with nipples (surely a reference to Batman & Robin, a movie spawned from Marvel’s chief comic rival, DC) A man sells bootlegged Avengers gear out of a back room. (A T-shirt proclaims its featured superheroes as “The Avongers.”)

Jennifer drinks at a bar with a fellow lawyer. We hear the s-word and four misuses of God’s name. There’s a reference to a fetish for big, green women. We hear that She-Hulk once battled demons during a date.

Aug. 25, 2022—S1, Ep2: “Superhuman Law”

Sure, Jen might’ve saved the life of the entire jury in her debut as “She-Hulk” (a name she hates). But alas, her heroics cause a mistrial and get the budding young lawyer fired. Only one law firm—run by the fairly slimy Holden Holloway—is willing to hire her, and only if she tries cases in her big, green form. (Good for publicity, Holloway reasons.) Her first such case? Holloway insists that she represent Emil Blonsky in his parole hearing. Yep, that’s right—the same Abomination who tried to kill Bruce Banner.

Blonsky says that he’s completely reformed now—perhaps hinting that Eastern spirituality sent him on a more pacifistic path. (He greets Jen with “Namaste” and tells her that he’s written haikus to all his former victims.)

“I’ve completely transformed myself,” he says. “Physically, obviously, but also spiritually.”

Blonsky tells her that he just wants to live out his life with his “seven soulmates” that he met through the penal pen-pal system, and hopefully to retire to a big piece of property purchased by said soulmates. But his sincerity seems suspect when footage of the Abomination battling in an underground-fighting league surfaces—indicating that Blonsky’s somehow able to escape prison. (We see a bit of violence in that footage.)

Jen, as She-Hulk, downs a few drinks in a bar. And while she’s perfectly sober in her green form, when someone asks her to transform into a standard human, she immediately feels the impact of the alcohol and nearly collapses.

We see Jen drink in a bar later, as well. During her first day at a new firm, a coworker tells Jen where the best bathroom to “poop” is (a joke repeated in the closing credits). A former coworker spots a “chick” at a bar and announces, “I’m going to go over there and talk to it.” When Jen zones out while her boss is talking and her boss asks her what she thinks about whatever issue he’s been discussing, she tells him that she’s “agnostic.”

We hear one use each of “a–” and the British profanity “bloody,” and God’s name is misused once.

Aug. 18, 2022 – S1, Ep1: “A Normal Amount of Rage”

Jennifer Walters prepares her closing arguments for a court case. But as she and her associates walk away, she turns to the camera and acknowledges that in addition to being a very good lawyer, she also turns into a green Hulk at times. “You’re not going to be able to focus on this fun lawyer show until I bring you up to speed.” And so begins the flashback.

Jen and Bruce Banner get into an auto accident, which leaves both of them bloodied. That blood gives Jen the ability to transform into a Hulk, which she does. Her first transformation leaves her confused and even more bloodied. She transforms again and slugs a guy making an unwanted pass at her outside a bar. When Bruce takes her to his tropical laboratory, the two test her abilities (including a stint in a room filled with radial saws) and, eventually, come to blows. The fight is treated as comic, but the two are still thrown about quite a bit. They throw rocks, too.

Elsewhere, some damage is done to the inside of a courtroom (and while one character is thrown into a wall, no one seems to get seriously hurt).

The two engage in what would appear to be meditation (though Bruce insists that the “dialectical behavioral theory” is “clinical, not spiritual.”) We hear the Hindu word “namaste” used, along with a bit of chanting.

Jen seems fairly obsessed with whether Steve Rogers/Captain America was a virgin or not: Her speculations extend throughout the entire episode. (Bruce eventually tells her that Steve was not a virgin.) When a handful of women find a shoeless and apparently roughed-up Jen in a bathroom, they quickly take her under their collective wing—believing she’s been the victim of her significant other. “You do not need him,” one says. “Or her. Or them,” another adds. And after those women give her a furry pink coat, three men perhaps think she’s a prostitute as they verbally and physically suggest that they’re interested in a sexual encounter with her. (Jen transforming into She-Hulk puts an abrupt end to that uncomfortable idea.) An apparently hand-drawn credits sequence depicts some men and women in bathing suits, and Jen makes some crass comments about the male body.

Bruce tells Jen that one of the perks of being a Hulk is that they can drink all they want without getting drunk. “All buzz, no barf,” he says. But after a heavy night of drinking (dozens of empty bottles are strewn across the bar floor), Jen still wakes up with a hangover). Jen walks into a more traditional bar, where we see plenty of neon advertisements for alcohol and a blackboard mention of “420” (referencing marijuana). Jen crassly discusses passing gas.

There’s an abbreviated f-word and two s-words. We also hear “h—,” “a–,” “d–k,” and at least a half-dozen misuses of God’s name. (We also hear a “Jeez.”)

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paul-asay
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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