Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Jane the Virgin

The CW's Jane the Virgin returns this upcoming Monday. You don't know how long I've been waiting to write or even think that sentence because Jane the Virgin is my all time favorite show on TV right now, maybe even ever.
Jane the Virgin is about a young woman who has taken a vow of chastity until marriage. She has dreams of being a writer, is graduating college, is engaged to a great guy, until she goes into a routine doctor appointment and gets accidentally artificially inseminated. 
How, you may ask, is this possible? The show explains what happens pretty well, so I won't go into the details, but basically we end up with a pregnant virgin as our leading lady. When I first heard the premise a year ago I thought, eh cool, I'll probably only watch a couple of episodes.
Instead, I let it consume my life. This show has caused me so much distress, good distress. The kind of distress where I lay awake at night agonizing over the outcome of next week's show. Let me explain why I distress over this show, and hopefully you can fall into distress with me.

The Culture
So what first drew me in was the fact that Jane is Latina. The premise of the show is based off a Venezuelan telenovela (soap operas in the Hispanic world) called Juana La Virgen. If you have grown up around Hispanic people, you know that telenovelas are a big deal. They are cheesy, they have characters who speak super rapid Spanish, they put those characters in crazy situations, and they deliver Oscar worth scene like this...
I watched this show with my sister in middle school, it was called Cuidado con el Angel. Good times...source
And yet all of us Hispanics love our telenovelas. It's a strange addiction. Jane the Virgin took that fact and ran with it. Characters are indeed put in crazy situations, but they react in normal ways (which delivers some of the strongest acting moments I've ever seen).
But more importantly, the influence telenovelas have on Jane the Virgin is the culture. The story centers around a Hispanic family living in Miami, and I connect to that. For the first time I see a successful show with characters like me. Characters who have abuelas that speak Spanish and you respond in English. Characters that eat grilled cheese sandwiches and habichuelas. Characters that say, adios y bendicion before leaving the house. Characters that act Hispanic because they are Hispanic and dang, that just makes me feel good.
I connect with Jane on a spiritual level, which brings me to my next point...

Jane is Me
Jane literally is me. She is Hispanic, a writer, devout in her faith, and me. Every time she does anything I'm like, "I do that!"

Like that time she wanted to finish her novel on time, so she set a schedule to write ten pages a day.
Or that time her favorite author came to town and she was freaking out.
The thing is, I know a lot of people relate to Jane, so I'm not the only one. When I say Jane is me, she is, but she is a lot of other people as well. She embodies the quirky, determined, nuanced female protagonist every story should strive to have. She's just a beautiful, well-written character.
The Romance
There is a love triangle, and it is done so wonderfully I sometimes forget it's there. Except when it's brought to the forefront and it's the thing that keeps me awake at night. Jane is caught between two men. Michael, her fiancee before she becomes pregnant...
...and Rafael, the child's father...
...who is a glorious angel carved from marble found in the heavens.

Is it clear which team I'm on? Looks aside, this really is a love triangle done right. In all honesty I would understand and be satisfied with either choice. Micheal is an accomplished cop/detective who loves Jane with everything he's got. Rafael, a former playboy who is the new owner of the hotel Jane works at, comes to love Jane just as much.

I can't tell you all why I love Rafael so much because spoilers, but let me just say, character development. Jane and Rafael's relationship is supposed to depict the fairy tale every girl wants, or it starts off that way.
This was nominated for best kiss, no surprise. source
Even Jane has a hard time believing everything that happens is happening to her. But when reality hits, well, we get to the core of these characters, and we get to see two people struggling, which is great. It's tension, it's conflict, it's a journey they have to maneuver together. She's pregnant with his baby on their first date, so things are bound to be a bit complicated.

Michael is great to, but I feel like his journey just isn't as strong as Rafael's. He's the nice guy, not a bad option, It doesn't help that the entire cast is team Michael. Like I said, if Jane picks him, fine, but team Rafael 5eva.

The Actors
I could write a section on each and every one of the people who portray these characters, but I don't want to make this post too long. Let's just say they are a wonderful group of people.
Gina Rodriguez, Jane's actress, is an advocate for representation and girl power. She won a Golden Globe for her role in Jane the Virgin. She also starred in a pretty intense indie film called Filly Brown (where she learned to rap, so she can basically do everything).
Justin Baldoni, Rafael's actor, is also a beautiful human being. He created the Shout the Good app that measures people's character and their willingness to see the good in others with a score from 1-100. It's a way to self improvement. From his Instagram, we also see how he is a wonderful father and husband to his wife and daughter, and he just generally spreads goodness.
All the other actors are beautiful people as well, from Jaime Camil, who has starred in multiple other telenovelas, to Brett Dier, a goofball. When shows and movies these days spit out actors who aren't necessarily the greatest of people, it's refreshing to see the opposite of that.
I could go on and on about why Jane the Virgin is such a great show, but alas, I cannot. I can, however, recap the show. So, while Jane the Virgin plays it's second season I will be recapping the adventures the crew takes.
Are you ready for season two of Jane the Virgin? If not, what are you doing? Go watch the first season! Then come back and discuss!

1 comment:

  1. I didn't get a chance to watch Jane the Virgin while season one was airing, but it's coming to Netflix at some point in October. I will definitely be watching it and then messaging you to fangirl about it, because yes. Thanks for writing this post--I'm really looking forward to giving this show a try!