Despite its name, there is nothing virginal about the hot new comedy series, Jane The Virgin. Now in its second season, Jane The Virgin hits viewers ‘right in the feels’. Or at least that’s how the warm, third-person omniscient narrator (Anthony Mendez) describes certain moments during the 40 minute show. It stars Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, a young woman starting a new chapter in her life after being accidentally artificially inseminated by a troubled doctor. The series, an adaptation of Venezuelan telenovela Juana La Virgen, follows Jane’s journey through pregnancy with on-screen text and a chapter book structure. It welcomes viewers to its world with immense ease as it invites them to sit down and hear Jane’s extraordinary tale.
Jane lives with her mother, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo), and grandmother, Alba (Ivonne Coll), and has a long-term boyfriend, Michael (Brett Dier). The three Latino women are a force to be reckoned with their strong very distinct personalities. Rodriguez is fantastic in the lead role, making Jane funny and highly relatable. Like many 23 years olds, Jane is balancing student life and a waitressing gig at the Marbella. Also, did we mention she wears spanx? Her considerate, thoughtful, and warm nature allows you to root for her throughout her journey. Her Catholic practices have us earning her respect from the moment she was brave enough to admit to her virginity. Whether it’s during the powerful scene of her praying with a rosemary during a terrible storm or giving an emotional speech during her baby’s baptism, its easy to see how Jane’s faith plays a pivotal part in her grounded yet fun loving character. She puts others before herself without a second thought, and yet it never feels like she’s a doormat. Rodriguez never fails to make us love Jane and her broadly comedic moments. It’s never overdone with her. No wonder she won a Golden Globe for her role in her first season.
There’s a lot of chemistry on the show, from the Villanueva family’s comfortable, and natural equation and Jane and Michael’s easy going relationship. Adding to this is the series’ wise decision to have Alba speak in Spanish, with subtitles translating her speech for the audience. It gives the show a touch of realism and demonstrates respect for the Latino audience while giving others a weekly chance to brush up on our own language skills. While their characters could have easily become stereotypes, the writers add unexpected characteristics and story lines to make them more interesting than they initially seem. Jane’s mother Xiomara, for example, selflessly puts her daughter and mother first, through her provocative nature. Xiomara and Alba balance each other, with Alba’s strict demeanour is contrasted by Xiomara’s proactive nature. Jane feels very much like the product of her two parental figures; headstrong and modest.
Despite the fact that most of the story would be utterly ridiculous, the series does a surprisingly good job making it seem normal – while still allowing us to laugh. Jane is presented with a dilemma and even those who struggle with its believability will appreciate the nuanced and honest reactions of everyone around her. There is no easy answer for Jane and the biggest strength of the show is the respect it pays not only to Jane herself, but all those helping her. Beneath its soapy exterior, this is a series about decent people trying to do their best in a difficult situation, one that will likely lead to future complications and lots of drama.
The playful tone of the series continues in its second season. If you choose to dislike the plot, enjoy the bright ,coral colours of the set and the overall, authentic beauty of the cast. Two words; Justin. Baldoni. However, by itself, the show’s style and comedy make for an enjoyable viewing experience. The series finds just the right balance, creating a unique place for itself among the usual dramas that CW airs. With its down-to-earth lead character and parody approach, Jane The Virgin is a breath of fresh air that is a must see for any Monday night. Because we’re always in need of a pick-me-up on Mondays.