On Monday, CW took a risk and premiered the remake of Venezuelan telenovela Juana la virgen, known here as Jane the Virgin. The premise follows Jane, who was pure her entire life until she was artificially inseminated on a hospital error. It also just so happens that the “father” is her former crush. And Jane’s about to be married. To another man. Oy.
Let me start by saying this show is good. Really good. But it’s not for me. For one, I dislike soap operas, so telenovelas are a whole step up. For two, seemingly random characters becoming key members in a storyline bother me. Sure, it’s surprising. But my initial shock is overtaken shortly by the sickness that every drama ever does it. It’s how police procedurals survive. Heck, it’s Scooby-Doo in 22 minutes.
Regardless, CW has surprisingly owned the pilot season with The Flash and Jane. Despite not having the smashing Flash-like rating, Jane‘s numbers are solid and respectable. The show has mystery, intrigue, and an actual story I’m interested in watching play out. Eventually, we all know this will come down to who she ends up with: her boyfriend of two years Michael, or her insemination partner and former crush Rafael. And between a nice, pleasant, police investigator Michael with the unknown dark past (Is the host of MTV’s Are You The One playing Michael’s brother? Yes…yes he is.) and a rich, more handsome, cancer-surviving Rafael with his only chance for a successful child inside Jane….is this even a debate? We all know how this will end.
But let’s talk Jane’s character. Firstly, Gina Rodriguez: take a bow. I think critics under-sold her performance. I felt Jane was a real person, an actual young adult that was going through the same stresses every college-aged student goes through. She loves her boyfriend, takes her grandmother’s advice seriously, thinks her mom is awesome despite her not-so-great life choices, and handles her boyfriend’s sexual advances like a real girl would…and saying no. It’s not the cliché virgin we see in many other shows. Heck, it’s not the typical television girl character. I mean, name the last time anyone said “no” to sex at all on television. So it was very refreshing for the writers and directors to carve out a regular Jane, and Gina plays her brilliantly.
Her supporting cast wasn’t as great, but quite acceptable. Rafael (Justin Baldoni) was alright as the unhappy hotel owner, stuck in a bad marriage with Petra (Yael Grobglas). Grobglas was not very convincing, but her character was VERY interesting. She’s the catalyst for this entire premise. So I can deal with Grobglas since her character is the entire reason we’re in this situation. Michael (Brett Dier) does a very fair job as the devoted, but human boyfriend. Everyone else is just alright. It’s CW. It’s not like they grab top actors all the time (with exception to Veronica Mars…what a cast they were). Grandmother (Ivonne Coll; also from MTV’s Teen Wolf….HOW MANY PEOPLE CAME FROM MTV?) and mother (Andrea Navedo) were very convincing for their roles, especially Navedo, who had to pull off a gossipy, teenager-at-heart, mother.
The plot was so well designed, that I almost stood up and clapped. People thought the writers wouldn’t be able to explain the complex situation. But it was so simple. Petra sensed Rafael wanted a divorce, but was poised to receive $10 million pre-nub after 5 years. So sensing Rafael’s lean towards a divorce before the allotted time, Petra tried to get pregnant. The problem was the doctor’s girlfriend found her girlfriend cheating on her less than 12 hours before the appointment. So the distraught doctor wasn’t focused on her instructions, turning Jane’s pap smear into…not…one. Two simple actions (Petra wanted child; Doctor got cheated on). One simple mistake. It was so simple, I was almost scared it could happen to me. Well…you know what I mean.
Everything that happened afterwards was a realistic reaction to how everything and everyone would react upon this news. Jane’s reaction. Mom’s reaction. Boyfriend’s reaction. Grandmother’s reaction. Father’s reaction…to both the pregnancy and his wife doing so behind his back. It was lovely unveiling to watch, and the best part: it wasn’t over-acted! Hooray!
The pilot was impressive. It wasn’t perfect. The show interweaving all the characters together, like a soap opera, still irks me. But you know what, that’s okay. That issue has more to do with me than with the show. My main issue with the show at this point is where does Jane go from here? Jane was already stressed with all the work and school, so something’s gotta give (probably school, right?). Also, I didn’t like that she rarely talked to her best friend. I mean, I understood they needed to do a lot in the pilot; but I hope the writers include her more to help influence Jane’s decisions (since friends do that at Jane’s age). But apart from all that, hey, who thought I’d like a show not designed for my demo?
Well, besides Gilmore Girls. Oh Lorelai.
But what did you guys thing? Was Jane the Virgin someone you’d like to visit every Monday, or was it not enough to convince you watch on?