TV Review – Jane The Virgin

Creator: Jennie Snyder Urman

Writer: Jennie Snyder Urman, Perla Farías, Carolina Rivera & more

Starring: Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Yael Grobglas 

Tagline: “What’s a virgin mother to do?”

Trivia: The show is based on the Venezuelan telenovela “Juana la Virgen.”

Growing up in a house where “fluff” books were not allowed (who defined what “fluff” is, was a question no one raised), watching a Telenovela would obviously be not allowed (if it existed at that time).

So when my darling daughter suggested to watch Jane the Virgin and told me it is a satire on Telenovela I naturally wasn’t inclined to watch it.

But when she persisted and came with an argument that it is Gilmore Girls with Latino people (but better) I was willing to give it a chance. What wouldn’t a mother do, to bond with her own grown up daughter, if not listen to her recommendations.

The minute I started watching it I was hooked. Jane The Virgin should not be considered as “fluff” or guilty pleasure. It is a masterpiece in creating a show that is both dramatic and funny by touching and discussing issues such as faith, immigration, abortion, sex and parenting, and in the last season included handling a child with educational difficulties.

More than anything it is a celebration of womanhood and Latino culture, which rarely appear (in a positive way) on mainstream TV shows.. 

The first episode of Jane the Virgin was aired in 2014. It is based on a Venezuelan telenovela in which a poor teen-ager is accidentally impregnated via artificial insemination, and then falls for the wealthy bio dad.

In the American version, Jane is twenty-three, living in Miami, and still a virgin, torn between her devout Catholic grandmother and her wild-thing mom, who had her at sixteen.

Her soul mate, Rafael (Justin Baldoni), is a mischievous hotel heir—and his meaningful competition is a nice-guy detective, Michael (Brett Dier), whom Jane eventually marries.

But, in five seasons, the show has expanded far beyond that formative love triangle. Jane has been a single mom, a happily married woman, to a devastated widow and finally reunited with her soul mate.
The virgin part disappeared in Season 3, the word scratched out every week in the titles. 

Jane the Virgin carries expected markers of an actual telenovela (fake deaths, evil twins, crazy twists and even a sinister villain that became sort of the female version of James Bond’s Blofeld) while also working as a satirical take on the form.

It employs formal playfulness like typing words onto the screen like captions so you can be reminded who people are, since nobody could be expected to remember everything.

A fabulous framing device has been added to the show by it’s creators – a Latin-lover narrator (voiced by Anthony Mendez) who punctuates his remarks with the refrain “Just like a telenovela, right?” he puffs and huffs, then agonizes on the troubles the characters go thought and then comforts us when sad events plague Jane and her family.

We also get an excitable fanboy who tosses out Twitter hashtags like confetti all in the name of entertainment.

The show could have turn into caricature on Telenovels but it isn’t. It is a deeply heartfelt production, sweet without being saccharine, as well as sophisticated about and truly interested in all the varieties of love, from familial to carnal.

It’s a smart show that parents and teen-agers can watch together. The show weights the most outrageous twists with realistic emotional responses.

The highlight of the show is the performances of all the women in the show from the three Villanueva women (Gina Rodriguez, Ivone Coll and Andrea Navedo) to Petra (Yael Grobglas), the wife of Raphael and then his Ex-wife, who is seasons 2&3 manages to pull a great performance of herself and her twin sister to a point that sometimes you forget it is the same actress.

We get fantastic characters of powerful women in all the different varieties of what feminine power means.  

With all the twists and myriad plots you wonder if they would be able to close all the loops, but the final season and the series finale were completely true to the original values, offering a fitting sendoff filled with unabashed emotion and romance that neatly tied up the loose ends with a big bright bow.

So if you haven’t watched it yet – Go and start watching it and have fun with it…

Verdict – a pure 5/5 Stars in my book

 

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