Telenovela forever: Everything we love about ‘Jane the Virgin’
Warning! Spoilers ahead.
Prepare your most dramatic gasp and limber up those tear ducts, because the day we’ve all dreaded is finally upon us: Jane the Virgin will end with season five. That’s right telenovela lover, the season of Jane you’re enjoying right now (the one where we thought Raf and Jane would finally get together but where Michael is actually alive) is the final freakin’ season.
If you liked the episode directed by Gina Rodriguez last season, you’ll be stoked to find out she’s doing more directing this season. Before we all start storming The CW studios and demanding something be done about this heartbreaking news, let’s not despair too much: much-needed spinoff Jane the Novella is set to drop on The CW sometime in 2020.
Jane the Novella has been described as a telenovela anthology series in which every season is based on a unique fictional novel “written by” Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) and narrated by our queen herself. To whet our appetite, the producers have released a scintillating tidbit about the plotlines for the the first installment.
We’ll join the action at a Napa Valley vineyard where family secrets (and family members) won’t stay buried for long. Jacqueline Grace Lopez (East Los High) is set to take the lead role.
In preparation for the emotional farewell we’re likely to experience when the show does finally bow out this summer, here’s a handful of the most important reasons Jane the Virgin captured our hearts.
It’s beloved (for good reason) by the fans
Soleil is a big Jane the Virgin fan who gave us some insight into why the show is so beloved. She’s 100% on #TeamRaf and hopes Jane and Raf end up together for the finale. The show has a deeply personal connection for Soleil, as she watched it while undergoing chemotherapy after a recommendation by another patient undergoing treatment.
Together, they grew to love the show and its crazy storylines which gave them a shared point of conversation. Soleil thinks the show is so special because “you never know what’s going happen and you’re always sitting on the edge of your seat.” She loves the show for its diversity and “life lessons”.
Jane the Virgin got Soleil through some hard times. The show “got my mind off chemo, introduced me to a terrific friend, and made me realize that even in the darkest times things will get better.”
We also spoke with Rachael, an O.G. fan of Jane the Virgin and member of #TeamMichael. She loves the fact that “the show has fewer boundaries than most and the narrator interacts with the audience, which is a fun element. There are so many twists and surprises that keep the show fun and exciting.”
Rachael loves the way Jane the Virgin portrays a dynamic Latinx community, and has even learned some Spanish from watching the show. Even though she’s a lover of Michael as a character, Rachael can see the amazing dramatic range of Jaime Camil as Rogelio de la Vega (Ed. note: he’s our favorite, too.) and considers him the best actor on the show. She also finds an important message in Jane the Virgin: Jane herself, while not perfect, “is a great role model for young women.”
Rachael has made many online friends in the fandom and participates in a couple of active Facebook communities. Not only has the show “helped at a time that I lost a loved one”, it also “helped me make friends from other cultures, because the show deals with the subjects of loss, politics, religion, sexuality, ethics, and morals – it creates very interesting and enlightening conversations.”
Emily is a Jane The Virgin lover who has been watching the show since day one and is #TeamRaf. She tunes in for the “humor, racial representation, and crazy plot twists” and kept watching because of the show’s strong narrative featuring “diversity, race, and LGBT issues”. Emily is a dedicated member of the #JanetheVirgin Twitter community and has made a close group of friends through the fandom.
Riley is a #TeamMichael Jane the Virgin fan who has been watching the show since 2015. She found the show on Netflix, finding “the name sounded interesting”. After viewing, she realized she’d “never seen a show with so much spice and love before”.
Riley was inspired by how much the cast “genuinely love and appreciate each other and spend time together off set.” She appreciates how the show hides important issues like sexuality, immigration, religion, and parenting beneath its fun, comedic tone. She’s hoping Jane the Virgin ends with the writers “revealing the resolution to EVERY SINGLE mystery”, also hoping “Jane and Michael are the end game”.
Through its Facebook communities, Riley has made some great friends in the fandom who have helped her though difficult life decisions. She thinks “everybody should watch Jane the Virgin”, and even though she’s sad to see the end of an era when Jane wraps this year, she’s excited to find out the truth about many of the more mysterious parts of the show.
Natasha is #TeamMichael and a big Brett Dier fan. She got into Jane the Virgin three years ago through her daughter and never looked back, quickly having been “hooked and couldn’t stop watching”. She especially loves the show’s strong, well-rounded character identities.
Natasha finds the most special part of Jane the Virgin to be “Jane’s hero’s journey to find herself, and happiness”. She loves the story’s themes of culture, immigration, identity, and belonging. “When Jane and Michael got married and he said his vows in Spanish, it was so beautiful.”
Natasha hopes the story will end with “Jane finding her happiness and all the characters finding their true purpose.” She thinks the show creates positivity for fans, having helped her through difficult times through the show’s ability to bring joy to viewers via the “togetherness of the characters as a family”. Ultimately, Jane the Virgin made Natasha realize “anything is possible, and there is lots of help out there”.
Marie started watching Jane the Virgin two years ago, having found it through a Netflix suggestion and is neither #TeamMichael or #TeamRaf. In fact, she dislikes “the fact that people fight over Micheal or Rafael and which guy is better for Jane”. She loves the show so much she’d prefer it not to end.
Marie’s favorite character is Rogelio, finding him inspirational because “he followed his dreams of becoming an actor in middle age. When he found out about Jane, he was instantly a loving person in her life. Rogelio shows so much empathy towards Xo, Jane, and Alba.”
Marie loves the Michael and Rogelio bromance, asking “Who doesn’t love lavender?” Her favorite moment of the show was “Jane and Micheal’s wedding. When Micheal recited his vows in Spanish, I lost it. I thought it was the sweetest thing I have ever seen.”
Marie thinks that Yael Grobglas as Petra is the best actor on the show. “Petra’s transformation from a cheating money-hungry housewife to a smart, savvy businesswoman and mother is fantastic . . . . Her portrayal of Petra’s twin sister Agnieszka is hilarious. The accent, the facial expressions – if I didn’t know better, I’d think they were two different people.”
Marie can’t wait to find out “who the narrator is. It’s something people have been obsessing over for years, so it better be good!” Her excitement at coming storyline resolutions is balanced by diffidence about the show ending.
It’s a work of telenovela genius
Featuring an austere, melodramatic narrator, outlandish shows of emotion, and outrageous twists (more on them in a moment), Jane the Virgin exists in a world both enthralled by the telenovela and inspired by it.
Jane, her mom, and her grandmother are shown voraciously lapping up the high drama of The Passions of Santos – a fictional telenovela about a handsome politician – but their lives are also played out with the same extravagant intensity, something made all the more apparent when it’s revealed The Passions of Santos is harboring a bombshell secret relating to Jane’s real life.
Series co-creator Ben Silverman (The Office) suggested the telenova approach came as a result of how “high-concept” the hook of Jane the Virgin originally sounded, “But I thought we should take a different approach to it and sort of make it an homage to the telenovela but still be uniquely American and play to a general market.”
As Maddie Crum highlighted for The Huffington Post, this gives Jane the Virgin a surreal edge, particularly when the series “speeds around sharp, shocking plot turns.” There’s also something swooningly tangible about the show existing within a telenovela realm.
For instance, “When Jane and her love interest Michael share a reuniting kiss, time slows down and (fake) snow flutters from the sky. Such theatrics might not happen in real life, but they do happen inside the minds of romantics, and so they are, in a sense, real.”
It has the best plot twists on TV
Playing up to its telenovela roots, Jane the Virgin has featured a breathless series of astonishing plot twists that also ingeniously poke fun at melodramatic tropes. Love triangles, evil twins, accidental insemination, long-lost celebrity fathers, serial killers, death & rebirth, amnesia, and sudden, startling deaths of beloved main characters, have all given us reason to drop our jaws and wheeze in awe at Jane the Virgin’s narrative audacity.
No other show currently airing on TV could achieve twists with such casual regularity as Jane the Virgin does, and that’s something we all need to cherish – you know, while we can.
It features the best Latinx representation on TV
Speaking to Mic, Jaime Camil (who portrays Jane’s uproarious father Rogelio) once divulged, “Jane the Virgin portrays Latinos with a lot of respect. Just because we’re Latinos doesn’t mean we need to have hot pink houses and piñatas and shout things like, ‘Tacos! Fiestas!’ We’re a powerful Latino cast, the characters are humans, and the show is written for a mainstream market.”
The dramedy may lean towards moments of surrealism & melodrama, but it still manages to explore Latinx identity and experiences with depth and complexity, resulting in a show full of unapologetic sincerity and free of relentless stereotyping.
It also eschews the usual TV Latinx clichés in favor of platforming a U.S. migrant story as an American one. “I read this script and thought, OK, here we are giving so much more. We are the heroes,” Rodriguez revealed to Backstage, “but the show’s main goal is to tell a story from an American girl’s perspective. We all migrate here and have the American dream.”
It features bold, unapologetic portrayals of female sexuality
Be it Jane encouraging her abuela, Alba (Ivonne Coll), to reconnect with her sexual side after decades of mournful abstinence (and helping to pick out a vibrator to help with that mission), Petra (Yael Grobglas) realizing she has romantic feelings for her hot-as-hell lawyer J.R. (Rosario Dawson) by way of a steamy dream, or Jane telling her (complicated) longtime beau Rafael (Justin Baldoni) exactly how she wants him, Jane the Virgin is refreshingly unapologetic when it comes to female sexuality.
In fact, the series explores the vast dimensions of what women want and how they want it with such a natural finesse, it brings into question why more shows aren’t being just as honest when it comes to such prurient matters. According to showrunner Jennie Urman (Something Borrowed), there’s still a fight to be had concerning female sexuality on TV – it just so happens Jane the Virgin is winning it.
Urman told Mic, “We’ve never had pushback on storylines or anything like that, (but) you’re always contending with what you can show and how much innuendo you can reveal. You can’t say “I’m gonna come” – you have to say “orgasm” – but you can show women getting raped and beaten up. And that does not sit well with me, so I keep trying to push against that.”
Mission accomplished. We’ll miss you when you’re gone, Jane the Virgin.