When Jane The Virgin promos began airing this summer, I thought it’d be another ridiculous show concerning unrealistic pregnancy decision-making. Another romantic comedy where keeping the pregnancy is a funny, melodramatic adventure!
However, after seeing so many great reactions and gifs on Tumblr, I decided I should probably give it a fair shot… and I’ve found that my premature judgments were extremely incorrect. This might be one of the best new television shows of the fall. Isn’t it great when television shows surprise you like that?
Jane The Virgin introduces us to the titular character, Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez), a responsible and hardworking young woman finishing up college. She’s got two parental figures: her carefree and playful mother, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo), and her religious and old-school grandmother, Alba (Ivonne Coll). She is also surrounded by her almost-fiancé, Michael (Brett Dier), and her ex-crush and the new owner of the hotel she works at, Rafael (Justin Baldoni).
In a very ridiculous–yet somehow understandable considering the context–turn of events, a pap smear turns into medical accident: an artificial insemination. Jane, who had vowed to remain a virgin until marriage, is now seemingly a pregnant virgin. And it gets a million times more complicated than that: inappropriate relationships, long lost fathers showing up, a murder, and scheming wives–just to name a few.
The show manages to stay on task and reminds the viewers what’s at stake through its unique style. It has an omniscient narrator–so we don’t only get Jane’s point of view, but every other character’s point of view as well. This helps to keep the story moving in a coherent manner. On top of all that, there is frequent typewriter text showing up to signal vital (and sometimes hilarious) information. Both the narrator and the typewriting does not detract from the overall story, but actually enhances the viewer’s experience.
The show spoofs and brings up telenovelas, especially because Jane The Virgin is based on a Venezuelan telenovela. The spoofing and commentary doesn’t make a mockery of or stereotype Latino culture. Instead, it takes the show’s original source into consideration and says “telenovelas are fun to watch because they are dramatic and ridiculous and this is our take on it.”
It’s also incredible to watch not one, but numerous Hispanic characters on the screen represented in a way that’s responsible and realistic. I personally couldn’t stop from picturing Alba, Jane’s grandma, as my stepgrandma, just in her tone and in her choice of Spanish phrases.
I think what I most love about the show is how easily the actors can go from funny and ridiculous to heartfelt and serious. They could be joking about how “telenovela-ish” things are going in the middle of a heated argument, yet they can still make the scene seem reasonable and natural.
The interactions between the characters, regardless of the situation, are seamless because of the chemistry the actors share (some have worked together in the past). I especially love the relationship between the Villanueva women. You can tell even though Xiomara and Alba have different opinions about sex and customs, they still love each other. Furthermore, you can tell how much each woman has impacted Jane: she is a mixture of Xiomara and Alba.
But above all, it’s amazing that although the show has taken on a lot in terms of interconnected storylines, it can still sway easily between humor and drama. It’s no wonder critics have deemed it one of the best new shows and The CW has greenlit a full season order. As long as it stays true to itself and to the characters, you can count me as a fan of Jane The Virgin.