CJ was a big fan of Jane the Virgin straight out of the gate, but it took me a few weeks to get the point: I could see that it was nice and all, but I wasn’t sold on it, and anyway I thought that the character of Michael had been treated a little shoddily, if I’m being honest. But I was wrong. This is a truly great show: romantic without being cloying; preposterously plotted, yet with genuine emotion at its core; and very funny. It has strong female characters and (what seems to me like) a solid grasp of Hispanic American life, but without being didactic about any of it. Also, a telenovela which is (at least in part) about a telenovela is always going to be a little meta at least, but Jane the Virgin manages to be cleverly and amusingly knowing rather than smug about it. (Interestingly, judging from an exchange of texts I had with CJ recently, she seems to have gone off the show just as I’ve resolved to marry it and have its children.)
On top of all of that, the show has a great central performance by Gina Rodriguez as Jane, who feels like a person of real substance, sympathetic yet purposeful. Nor does it hurt that Rodriguez evinces a sort of sweet and well-scrubbed sexiness. The Latin Lover Narrator, of course, is just fabulous, and gets a reasonable proportion of the best lines. The use of onscreen text has got saltier and funnier every week. (In this episode, for example, the captions for the dog’s barks made me laugh out loud.) And the supporting cast is strong, in particular Jaime Camil as the outstandingly vain and egotistical telenovela star Rogelio De La Vega, who just lights the screen up every time he’s on it, even when playing a peach-clad intergalactic detective.
This episode might have been one of the best so far: Jane has writers’ block, a not-particularly-subtle metaphor for her relationship with Rafael, which is in trouble after she rejected his proposal of marriage. Rogelio is shadowing Michael as part of his research for playing the aforementioned peach-clad intergalactic detective (“I take my craft very seriously, which you can see by my use of the word ‘craft’”. Later on, in a fantasy sequence, they will dance a salsa. God, I love Rogelio.) Petra – the exceptional Yael Grobglas – has started to work more closely with Rafael. Jane unknowingly meets Michael’s ex-girlfriend at her writers’ workshop. And Xo is planning to move in with Rogelio, which has annoyed her mother (whose character is arguably the only weak link in the show, which is not in any way the fault of Ivonne Coll who plays the role).
I absolutely adore this show. If you’re not watching, give it a try.