Jane the Virgin is about a woman who vows to save her virginity until marriage, only to be accidentally artificially inseminated and fall pregnant. Warning there may be spoilers ahead.
When I first read about the premise for this show I didn’t get it. I thought the whole thing was totally unrealistic and as a result the audience wouldn’t connect. After I saw the promo I warmed to it a little, it looked charming and funny, and maybe the silly plot would just add to that. Sure, it wouldn’t be groundbreaking but it might entertain some. (Also on a side note, after starting work in a hospital, I could totally see how a tired, emotional doctor may mix up the notes, so perhaps it’s more realistic than I first thought). So, as I sat down to watch the pilot I tried to keep an open mind. And I’m glad I did because Jane the Virgin turned out to be the biggest, most pleasant, surprise of premiere season.
Leading a great cast, the titular character of Jane is played by Gina Rodriguez who does an excellent job portraying her. Jane goes through a lot in the pilot and Rodriguez really captures the different emotions felt. What I love about the character of Jane is how likeable she is; she’s the typical girl next door type. She’s sweet and kind with strong morals and beliefs, but she’s also not afraid to stand up for herself and make her voice heard. I believe a good lead character is critical to a show’s success and they seem to have found one in Jane. Rodriguez also has great chemistry with all of her co stars, probably best highlighted in her familial relationship with her mother Xiomara and grandmother Alba. Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) and Alba (Ivonne Coll) are polar opposites and it’s great to see how they play off each other as well as Jane. Their contrasting personalities also bring a lot of comedy to the show. However the best moment for me was when they were all sat down watching a telenovela together, it was a hilariously accurate portrayal of family life. I’m really looking forward to seeing how these relationships develop, especially with the introduction of Jane’s father.
Another example of superb on screen chemistry was between Rodriguez, her boyfriend Michael (Brett Dier) and the unintended father of her child Rafael (Justin Baldoni). This is already gearing up to be a complicated love triangle, made more complex by the fact that Rafael is married to a woman who is coincidentally having an affair with his business partner. It really is just like a telenovela. While I’m rooting for nice guy Michael, there are undeniable sparks between Jane and Rafael whom I predict will hook up by the end of the season. As for Rafael’s wife Petra (Yael Grobglas) she’s an intriguing character all by herself. At the start of the episode I actually felt sorry for her, it seemed as if she really loved her husband and would do anything to save the marriage. Then it’s revealed she’s having an affair and is more concerned about how much she’ll get in the divorce settlement. I suspect that this was done to make her the villain of the show. Making her unlikeable make us an audience feel sympathetic to Rafael. However I think Petra and her scheming will make for interesting and entertaining viewing.
Mystery is brought to the show in the form of Jane’s father Rogelio (Jaime Camil) and Michael’s brother Billy (Ryan Devlin). Star of the telenovela that the family is addicted to; Rogelio turns up at the end of the episode to confront Xiomara about his daughter. This will no doubt cause a lot of tension in the family but I’m also interested to learn how much Rogelio knew about his daughter. Billy brings even more excitement into the mixture, calling into question Michael’s nice guy image and mentioning a shady past. This is further backed up by the narrator of the episode suggesting that Jane doesn’t know the real Michael. And this is what is so great about this show. We’re expecting a light-hearted comedy and then we get numerous curveballs suggesting a darker, more mysterious side to it.
Adding to the unexpected mystery is the unexpected emotion. The subject matter is actually quite difficult. Jane is in this very tricky predicament and she has to make the decision of whether she brings a life into the world or not. The gravity of that shouldn’t be underestimated and luckily it isn’t in Jane the Virgin. The show actually allows us to see the weight of emotions and how everyone is affected by the situation. Some of the scenes are actually quite touching, especially those between Jane and Alba. I hope this continues throughout Jane’s pregnancy, as things are only going to get harder and that should be reflected properly and realistically as it was in the pilot.
As I said Jane the Virgin was a pleasant surprise. It was definitely not what I expected, pushing the boundaries of the typical comedy and adding real heart and darkness to the mix. The cast work really well together and they all performed strongly in the pilot. Jane the Virgin produced a funny, charming and most importantly, intelligent first episode. If it continues like this it could be a real winner.