She-Hulk: Attorney At Law – Season 1 Episode 4

Sep 8, 2022 | Posted by in TV

“Is This Not Real Magic?”

She-Hulk: Attorney At Law deals with the legalities of magic as Jennifer tries her hand at the dating scene.

The beauty of doing a law show in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that there is a wealth of material to create interesting cases out of. In this instance, the question of the legal standing of magic in a world where Sorcerors exists is at the root of the argument when Wong sues a magician who carelessly uses the mystic arts.


Dating sucks…apparently

A drawback is that this show is a comedy so it will never pay more than lip service to the issue. Every scene pertaining to the legal issue highlights how ridiculous it is and Donny Blaze (Rhys Coiro) is a shallow character clearly painted as being in the wrong so the audience is encouraged to ignore what might actually be an exciting debate to watch play out in a courtroom and immediately side with the Wong/Jennifer argument.

The high-level argument is an interesting one. Donny Blaze’s point is that the mystic arts aren’t regulated so there’s no legal reason that Wong is more entitled to practice than he is. Wong makes grand proclamations about not meddling with forces that govern the fabric of the universe due to the risk of catastrophic damage that can result from the untrained clumsily dabbling. Personal animosity also factors into it as evidenced by Wong’s tone as he describes Donny Blaze’s ejection from Kamar-Taj.

Part of Wong’s intention is to set a precedent that will prevent anyone lacking in training in the mystic arts from making use of them but that invites a lot of questions that this show isn’t equipped to cover in the detail that is required. In fairness, it has never presented itself as a show that would offer a detailed exploration of complex legal or moral issues but it means that it always seems like something is missing in the storytelling.


The world is complicated

Wong’s intention suggests that some kind of legal framework would need to be built around Sorcerors and their training. Jennifer points out that without a written contract his argument becomes more difficult and the judge points out that there is no ownership of magic as a concept. It’s interesting when you consider that Sorcerors were a secret society mentioned in whispers. Stephen Strange had to put effort into finding out about them so the idea that there might be some sort of legal framework built around them is certainly an idea worth exploring. The events of Avengers: Endgame will have made the public aware of them which means that Wong has to get used to the idea that he’s a public figure that can be scrutinised so the ancient territory that was so unflinching is evolving rapidly and he has to keep up with it.

The trouble is that the episode has no interest in any of this beyond ridiculing Donny Blaze and creating a scenario where Jennifer fights small demons to give the episode its mandatory action beat. As stated, the remit of the show means that it never promises to go beneath the surface of a given case of the week but the innate weight of the issues presented demands that coverage. Instead, a lot of attention is given to Wong becoming fast and unlikely friends with the perpetually drunk Madisynn (Patty Guggenheim) who stumbles into Kamar-Taj by way of Donny Blaze’s reckless tricks. Their back-and-forth highlights where the focus of this show lies. The comedic focus does massively trivialise what should have been a horrific experience for Madisynn who was sent to another dimension against her will, apparently made a pact with a demon that may have horrific consequences at some point in the future and did something that resulted in her holding a heart. Her perpetual drunkenness apparently allows her to shrug all of this off but she experienced something akin to Lovecraftian horror and it’s dismissed with a joke about spoiling The Sopranos. At least Jennifer’s handling of the case is as professional as ever and it’s endlessly amusing to see her impatience with the rampant lunacy that comes with her current field.

Dating is the subject of the episode’s B-Plot. Jennifer sets herself up a Matcher -or legally distinct Tinder- profile for reasons that aren’t quite explained beyond the fact that it’s something for the episode to cover. She initially tries to be herself and has one date that is less than ideal but has a lot more success when she puts herself out there as She-Hulk. The personal distinction she makes between the two sides of her identity is noteworthy as she sees Jennifer and She-Hulk as two different people despite no personality alteration when she transforms.


Give the people what they want

There is however a clear difference in perception when she transforms as men suddenly become more interested in her when in She-Hulk form. It counts as a brief commentary on the superficial nature of dating apps and how they strip away the substance of people by being geared around physical appearance. The episode brings it up as a fact of that sort of dating but has nothing to say beyond the obvious which makes it an oddly superficial exploration of this issue. It does feed into Jennifer’s ongoing identity arc. She has already been dealing with not being accepted for her skills and knowledge in the workplace as being She-Hulk is why she has her current job. Now she has to deal with social acceptance skewing in the direction of her She-Hulk form though there is a conspicuous lack of actual conflict beyond some frustration on her part.

One thing that stands out is that she clearly enjoys the attention however superficial it might be. A fourth wall break insists that she’s not proud of what she’s doing but takes obvious pleasure from having an attractive man captivated by her to the extent that she gladly spends the night with him. Wong’s interruption calling her into action brings up the difficulty juggling a normal life with that of a superhero and offers possible reasoning for why Jennifer has no interest in being the latter. Her previously established innate goodness gets in the way and she feels compelled to help even if she complains about it the entire time so there’s definitely a lot she needs to figure out about balance in her own life and truths she needs to admit to herself before she can be truly comfortable within herself.


It’s not all bad!

Using online dating as a metaphor for the duality of being a superhero is a really strong idea as people cultivate a particular image of themselves online that is an idealised version of themselves. Pictures are carefully chosen with the best lighting and backdrops, bragging about accomplishments is common and a general false perfection is created to present to the outside world. Superheroes -whether they hide their identity or not- create an image and try to live up to ideals that they stand for while being larger than life so there are definite similarities that could be explored. Unfortunately, the episode fails to do this beyond very high-level coverage but the attempt is appreciated and recognising the connection does at least create the potential for another property to do better in future.

The aftermath of Jennifer’s night of passion puts a damper on the euphoria of being desired and doing something spontaneous when the man doesn’t recognise her in Jennifer form. It’s an uncomfortable reminder that there’s a massive difference in the outward perception of her two selves and tells her that he wasn’t there for her as she truly is. She knew that going in and stayed in She-Hulk form for that reason but having it confirmed was visibly difficult for her.

Despite the shortcomings and shallow coverage of interesting ideas, the show remains fun and that’s what it sets out to be. Wong and Madisynn’s friendship is charming and hilarious, the idiocy of Donnie Blaze endangering the universe to enhance his magic act is amusing and the light touch approach to Jennifer dating as She-Hulk makes a clear point but much of it is surface level. Even with a comedic tone, there is scope to interrogate these ideas and provide a meaningful perspective on the added complications a world with superpowers and magic can bring to the legal system. It would have to be framed differently but it may be more meaningful and provoke more thought beyond pointing at the absurdity. The exploration is sorely lacking and it leaves the episode feeling incomplete.


Making a new friend


An uneven episode that raises fascinating ideas worthy of exploration but doesn’t cover them beyond the surface though the overall package remains fun and entertaining. The case of the week questioning the validity of magic and who is more entitled to use it brings up a compelling issue that is definitely worthy of exploration but the episode doesn’t go into detail as it favours the comedy of Wong becoming friends with the perpetually drunk Madisynn and the clear ineptness of Donny Blaze. In fairness, the show never presented itself as something that would tackle the big issues but failing to explore them has the end result seeming incomplete. The B-Plot focuses on Jennifer signing up for a dating app and brings in the identity conflict that she has been dealing with. Jennifer has limited success on the app where her She-Hulk form is widely desired. The point being made is that online dating is superficial but the episode has nothing to say beyond that. Jennifer taking pleasure in being desired and calling out the unfairness of superhero responsibilities impinging on normal life works well enough but there was more to be said. Despite the shortcomings and shallow coverage the show remains fun and fully commits to what it sets out to be. Even with a comedic tone, there is scope to interrogate these ideas and provide a meaningful perspective on the added complications a world with superpowers and magic can bring to the legal system. It would have to be framed differently but it may be more meaningful and provoke more thought beyond pointing at the absurdity. The exploration is sorely lacking and it leaves the episode feeling incomplete.

  • 7/10
    "Is This Not Real Magic?" - 7/10


Kneel Before…

  • interesting ideas around the role of magic and how it should be regulated
  • Wong starting to adapt to the ever-changing world surrounding him
  • using online dating as a metaphor for the duality of being a superhero
  • Jennifer enjoying the attention she receives as She-Hulk while recognising how superficial it is
  • her reaction to the uncomfortable reminder of how superficial the interest in her was
  • Wong and Madisynn’s charming friendship
  • the show fully committing to what it wants to be


Rise Against…

  • minor exploration of the interesting ideas being raised
  • the episode feeling incomplete because so much goes unexplored


What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below

User Review
7.75/10 (2 votes)

We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Review” box

If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.