Jane the Virgin
“The show deals head on with cultural—especially religious—identity, class, language barriers, and illegal immigration without pandering.”
Title: Jane the Virgin
Episodes Reviewed: Seasons 1-3
Creator: Jennie Snyder Urman 👩🏼🇺🇸
Directors: 12 women, 5 POC
Writers: Carolina Rivera 👩🏽🇺🇸 (30 episodes) and various
Reviewed by Mimi 👩🏻 🇺🇸
The CW show has a lot of fun with its telenovela inspiration yet manages to avoid outright silliness and keep adult viewers watching thanks to its heartfelt writing and acting.
Does it pass the Bechdel Test? YES
Gina Rodriguez brings a refreshingly grounded quality to her performance as the titular Jane. While her love triangle with Michael (Brett Dier) and Rafael (Justin Baldoni) provided the initial source of conflict, Jane’s story is ultimately about family, specifically mothers and daughters of the three generations of Villanueva women. Jane’s relationships with her single mother Xo (Andrea Navedo) and her grandmother Alba (Ivonne Coll) provide the backbone to the show, as they hash out real-world issues—everything from jobs to parenting to female sexuality. Even Petra (Yael Grobglas), who often fulfills the role of antagonist, is allowed to be a fully formed character and delivers many of the comedic highlights.
A wealth of Latinx actors proliferate the cast, which makes absolute sense given that the show is set in Miami. Actual telenovela star, Jamie Camil, who plays Jane’s biological father and telenovela celebrity Rogelio De La Vega on the show (it’s very meta), is a gem! Amid the melodramatic twists and multiple subplots expected of a telenovela, the show also deals head on with cultural (especially religious) identity, class, language barriers, and illegal immigration without pandering.
While Rafael’s sister, Luisa (Yara Martinez), is openly gay and her relationships figured prominently into the intrigue early on, her character has been less integral to the later season. Luisa and her lovers Rose (Bridget Regan) and Susanna Barnett (Megan Ketch) are also conventionally femme.
Mediaversity Grade: B+ 4.25/5
Writer Nicole Chung once tweeted: “If we’d had Jane the Virgin years ago, would we really have needed Gilmore Girls?” Richly rendered women of color boost this altogether enjoyable series.