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Praising “Jane the Virgin”

Show produces intriguing, telenovela-style plot with talented cast

Jane The Virgin -- Key Art -- Credit: © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved
Jane The Virgin -- Key Art -- Credit: © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Based on the Venezuelan telenovela “Juana la Virgen,” The CW show “Jane the Virgin” is a hit. The story features Gina Rodriguez as Jane Gloriana Villanueva, a young Latina virgin who promises to maintain her virgin status until marriage to avoid making the same mistake as her mother Xiomara (Andrea Navedo), who had Jane at 16. It isn’t until a series of unfortunate events fall upon Jane that this promise is broken — kind of.

In a strange plot twist, Jane’s doctor, Luisa Alver (Yara Martinez), accidentally artificially inseminates her. Over the course of the first season, Jane discovers her baby’s father is a handsome, previous fling named Rafael Solano (Justin Baldoni) and decides to end her ideally perfect relationship with police officer Michael Cordero (Brett Dier).

The show is full of twists and turns. Some of of these include Jane’s melodramatic long-lost father as the star of a hit telenovela, Solano’s wife being formerly married to a drug smuggling Russian man and Cordero’s involvement in a high profile case about a criminal named Sin Rostro.

The show is currently in its second season, and executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman anticipates a bright future. The success of the show depends heavily on Urman’s identification with her main character.

Rodriguez said in an interview with Glamour, “Jane is Jennie, Jennie is Jane.”

This director-character dynamic comes from Urman’s experience in the television industry — as a professional woman and mom, people have doubted her ability to balance the two roles. Jane experiences the same doubts as she struggles with writing her first novel, earning her teaching degree and raising her newborn.

Despite the soap opera plotline, the most appealing aspect of the story is its ability to address topics seen as off-limits. One of the biggest themes is deportation. Jane’s grandmother Alba (Ivonne Coll) lives in America illegally and has always kept a low profile. At one point in the show, however, she is threatened with deportation and her livelihood is at jeopardy.

Urman also unveils the nitty gritty aspects of motherhood. She makes sure not to gloss over the difficulties that come with it: illnesses, pains and the question women constantly grapple with, “What is a good mother, and am I one?”

The show features a predominantly Latino cast, an example of diversity on mainstream television that rarely occurs. The first lines of the show are spoken by Jane’s grandmother in Spanish. The show and its characters are genuine, refusing to conform to the Anglo-Saxon models of television, and instead showcase Latino traditions passed down from generation to generation. Bless “Jane the Virgin” and its willingness to take risks on television.