‘Jane the Virgin’ masterfully combines drama and warmth
Reminiscent of a self-aware telenovela, CW’s Jane the Virgin manages to be dramatic and romantic, but also hilarious and undeniably warm.
The show’s protagonist, Jane Gloriana Villanueva, is a 24-year-old Latina living in Miami, working as a waitress in a fancy hotel, and studying to be a teacher, when she is accidentally artificially inseminated at a routine gynaecologist visit gone wrong. So Jane, who had vowed not to have sex before marriage after a scary talk from her deeply religious abuela (grandmother) years ago, becomes a pregnant virgin.
The show has the same fantastically dramatic twists and turns of a typical telenovela: love triangles, romances, affairs, and even the occasional murder, without feeling over-the-top. The characters are so well written and acted that it still manages to feel real. Plus the drama makes for some compelling television.
Portrayed masterfully by Gina Rodriguez (a performance that won her a Golden Globe), Jane is the heart of the show. Jane is smart and kind and selfless, someone the audience can’t help but root for every step of the way. As Jane has to navigate her pregnancy, and countless other obstacles, she has the audience’s sympathy every step of the way. She’s not perfect. Jane messes up. A lot. That’s what makes her human, and it gives the viewer something to relate to.
Another aspect viewers can potentially relate to, especially in this region, is Jane’s Latina heritage. While Jane speaks mostly English, her abuela speaks only in Spanish. Jane and her family love telenovelas and Spanish pop stars. Jane was raised devoutly Catholic. If one was raised by a Mexican family, it can be easy to see themselves in these aspects of Jane’s life.
By far the best part of this show is how, for lack of a better word, comfortable it feels (though a close second is the fourth-wall breaking omniscient Latin narrator, filled with clever and hilarious remarks). Four episodes in, the viewer already feels like they’re part of Jane’s familia. Watching the show starts to feel remarkably like coming home. Cultivating such a warm and welcoming atmosphere isn’t something a lot of acclaimed shows are able to do.
The first season of the show is available on Netflix. The second season is now airing on the CW every Monday evening.
By Sienna Mata