I watch Jane The Virgin. There, I said it! And I tell you what, the past few years have been absolutely exhausting living this lie, desperately attempting to hide my love for a show my partner labelled ‘absolute trash’. But perhaps out of sheer exasperation for its endless and erratic plot twists – partnered with the fact that I DON’T HAVE A SOUL TO DISCUSS THIS WITH – I feel it is my civic duty to persuade as many folks as possible to jump aboard the JTV train, like some kind of telenovela-hustling Jehovah’s Witness.
Do you have a moment to talk about our lord and saviour, Jane Villanueva?
me, to anyone that will listen
Firstly, I’d like to kick things off by stating that Jane The Virgin is currently rated at 7.8/10 on IMDb, and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. So, cart me off to the colonies if you so wish – just know that there are other souls out there that devour this drama too, so much so they feel the need to rate it online.
Look, I’ll reason with you… I can’t remember why I pressed play in the first place. Maybe I was all Game of Thrones‘d out and was looking for something light-hearted? Regardless, I was hooked from the get-go.
I think, above all – minus the kitschy narration, and very cheesily animated figments of Jane’s imagination – JTV rather candidly depicts real life. Sure, not a lot of people are accidentally artificially inseminated by their boss, of whom is being investigated in connection to a huge criminal syndicate. But it’s not the major plot lines that I’m talking about! It’s the minor themes that are woven between that lend a pinch of gravity to the characteristic over-dramatisation of the telenovela genre.
Take Jane for instance: she’s a budding novelist, brought up under both the semi-strict catholic regime of her Abuela and the casual-rearing of her single, and mostly scantily-clad mother. All of her conceptions re: romance have been ripped from episodes of her favourite telenovela, The Passions of Santos. And I dunno, you may have guessed from the title, but she’s a virgin – shock horror!
Jane’s life is very hastily T-boned after she goes in for a standard smear and is accidentally artificially inseminated by her heartbroken/alcoholic/heavily distracted doctor… who just happens to be the sister of her traditionally handsome, resort tycoon of a boss. Cue a whole lot of awkward conversations, relationship turmoil and allegations of immaculate conception. It’s the perfect catalyst to kick off a show ironically taking on the telenovela trope.
But far from being a mere source of light-hearted entertainment, JTV battles issues across all fronts. From delving into the obvious themes of religion (both in support, and against), sex and heartbreak; to exploring the reality of different child-rearing approaches, and dating as a single parent or grandparent. Through Jane herself, we explore the v real life pressure of trying to navigate your passion and balance a career. Ok, that last point might just explain my unprecedented passion for this series.
Perhaps the most blatant theme is the Villanueva family’s rich Venezuelan-Mexican culture. Jane’s Abuela, Alba, speaks almost exclusively in Spanish – which, side bar: has been mildly educational for this gal trying to learn Spanish on/off for the past five years. One of the most serious plots, though, is Alba’s fear of being caught undocumented in the US – which understandably became a pinnacle theme in light of America’s current political landscape.
Jane The Virgin also explores LGBT relationships – most admirably without any dramatic “coming out” scenes. Characters are portrayed realistically, and even if they’re not depicted in the best light (or in one that differs from our own beliefs) it’s done with class and empathy.
Well, I mean, there are some pretty heavy anti-Trump references in the fourth season – but I challenge you to name another show that hasn’t done the same in the past two years.
Whilst Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) is the star of the show, it’s pretty fucking hard to miss saucy Passions of Santos star Rogelio De La Vega (played by Jaime Camil). This guy is so damn extra, and so mind-numbingly imperceptive at times that you want to dress him head-to-toe in peach, but every tiny detail just lends to his dramatic essence. This exuberant character is so well-crafted, and I gotta admit – nine times outta ten it’s Rogelio’s lines that have me in stitches.
I’m bloody bursting at the seams to write about this series in greater detail, but it wouldn’t be fun for first-time viewers without the plot twists and cliffhangers. Call it trash, even laugh at the OTT narration – but Jane The Virgin is well worth your time. And I’m sorry, but if there is anyone out there that can withstand Gina Rodriguez’s wit and charm then they’re simply inhuman and there is no pleasing them.
Undercover JTV fans please slide in my DMs, I desperately need to talk about the season 4 cliffhanger.