In a world full of uncertainty, sometimes we need a little reassurance that dreams do come true, and true love and happily ever afters can indeed happen, no matter how difficult the journey may seem. And never has there been a TV show that made me as hopeful for my own happily ever after as Jane The Virgin.
The story follows our titular Jane Gloriana Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez), a religious young Latina woman who has been saving her virginity for her marriage to Michael (Brett Dier), a handsome and ridiculously adorable detective who loves and supports Jane in everything she does. Jane’s life, at the beginning of the pilot episode, seems perfect–she is the stereotypical good girl from a working-class family, with clear plans about what she wants from her future, and in a loving relationship with a kind and loyal man who wants to build a life with her.
And then, Jane gets accidentally artificially inseminated by a doctor who came into the clinic with a hangover….and things get a bit complicated.
It sounds ridiculous, right? Well, it gets worse: the sperm belonged to the doctor’s own brother–a ruggedly handsome, ex-billionaire-playboy turned trapped-husband, Rafael Solano (Justin Baldoni), who it turns out, had once shared a romantic kiss with Jane many years ago.
And yet, this is still just scratching the surface of the hilarious drama you will find in this telenovela. From scandalous secret affairs, long-lost celebrity fathers, notorious drug dealers, vindictive ex-wives–Jane The Virgin has plenty of unrealistic plot twists coming for you, and against all odds, they weave into the story perfectly because the world simply accepts it.
It is a comedy after all, and a telenovela at that, as our mysterious narrator often reminds us, but what makes this comedy stand out is the way the creators take impossible, larger than life situations, and then make our characters respond to them in the most realistic, human ways possible.
After all, how do you react when a celebrity you have been watching on screen all your life suddenly comes up to you and tells you he is your biological father? How do you respond when you are artificially inseminated by accident, but then the baby’s father tells you that the child you are carrying is his only chance at fatherhood? How do you respond when your husband miraculously comes back from the dead?
At each of these crazy twists and turns, all the characters in Jane The Virgin respond in the most human and wholesome ways–sometimes with tears, sometimes with anger and vengeance, but always, always choosing compassion and kindness in the end.
At the heart of it, Jane The Virgin is about family. And despite being a romantic comedy, Jane The Virgin thoughtfully navigates difficult conversations about immigration, racism, misogyny and abuse, bad parenting and the struggles of co-parenting and motherhood, women’s sexuality, and everything in between, and beyond.
For me personally, Jane The Virgin hit too close to home for many reasons. Like Jane, I am just a young woman torn between choosing a realistic job and yearning to become a published author. Like Jane, I make lists and plans; I want to be able to control my future and my present as much as I can.
However, as Jane learns throughout the course of the five seasons, life is not a novel that you can outline and plan on paper. Watching Jane wake up to this realization and accept it, helped me to let go a little and try to live in the moment.
Seeing Jane struggle to get her book published successfully made me realize that I have done everything except work on my drafts because I am more scared of failing than I am hopeful about being successful. And these are only some of the minor ways in which I related to Jane–there were so many other important moments in this show that mirrored my own life experiences and helped me look inwards.
It is a comedy show that doesn’t hold itself back from talking about real people and their real struggles. And with a wonderfully talented cast who play beautifully developed characters, Jane The Virgin shows us how each and everyone one of us can grow into a better version of ourselves through our struggles, and thus claim our own happily ever afters.
With five seasons and one hundred episodes of the wildest plot twists, Jane The Virgin is ultimately a fearless telenovela about family; one that takes all the classic telenovela tropes and cleverly deconstructs them to give you something refreshingly new, and heartwarmingly wholesome. Watching the series finale was cathartic; as painful as it was to say goodbye to some of my favorite fictional characters on screen, it was also inspiring to see their happy ever afters–because it made me believe that mine is also in the making. <3