Based off of the telonovela, Juana la Virgen by Perla Farlas, the CWs Jane the Virgin has a narrator straight out of a Wes Anderson film. The series opens with Jane’s maternal grandmother, Alba (Ivonne Cole), demonstrating through a crushed flower, how, once your virginity has been compromised, so has your virtue, and you can never, EVER go back from that.
Jane is REAL. Jane Villanueva, a picture of pure, devout virtue, is (duh!) a virgin. She is also a third generation immigrant, and isn’t perfectly thin (though Gina Rodriguez IS gorgeous). She is completing a teaching degree, has a hot cop boyfriend (who’s okay with never having sex) and works part time as a server at a hotel where she sometimes has to serve drinks dressed like a mermaid. Her mother, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo), gave birth to Jane when she was a teenager, and Jane is determined not to make the same mistakes.
We’re slowly moving away from the ‘16 and pregnant’ theme. Despite doing everything right, Jane is accidentally inseminated by a distraught gynaecologist. Her mother cries, “imaculada,” her grandmother cries disappointment, her boyfriend-turned-fiance cries “the wedding’s off” and Jane just cries. The plot only thickens when it turns out that the sperm belongs to her boss, Rafael (Justin Baldoni), a man she once kissed, who became infertile after chemotherapy. Along with Rafael’s sister, Luisa (coincidentally the OB/GYN that inseminated Jane, played by Yara Martinez), and his “man-eating” wife, Petra (Yael Grobglas), Jane has found herself wrapped up in an increasingly bizarre cast of characters, and in the very situation she’s fought her entire life to avoid.
It’s hilarious, and shuts down some ideals about virginity. Jane the Virgin is a dramedy that pokes fun at the genre of telonovela (a kind of soap opera). The show is wrought with satire: ”Telanovelas have ruined romance for me!” says Jane, just before the mediocrity of her life steps out the door for good. This show represents the latino diaspora in the united states in a funny, surprising and whimsical way. It feels like a wayward fairytale, and does a really good job of contesting ideas surrounding virginity, showing that negative and positive things can happen in life despite the state of your “flower.”
It will make you think about cultural representation. There are times when, as a viewer, I worry that the representation of the latino characters border on cliché; however, I think that, especially as a satirical program, Jane the Virgin does a much better job than most other programs at challenging representations of different cultures in the media. Not only are the main characters latina, the caucasian fiancé is pitted to be (what looks like) the “bad guy.”
There are nods to LGBTQ representation. Meanwhile, Rafael’s sister and Jane’s OB/GYN, Luisa, made the mistake of inseminating Jane because she found her wife cheating on her. Of course, television has a long way to go in terms of representation, but Jane the Virgin is a (highly watchable) step in the right direction.
Instead of binge-watching season 12 of Family Guy, consider tuning into Jane the Virgin.