Jane the Virgin first aired on TV October 13, 2014. The show follows the life of 23-year-old Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriquez), an aspiring teacher, who is determined to not repeat the same mistake as her mother (Andrea Navedo) of having a child at a young age. For this reason and her religious beliefs, Jane is saving herself for marriage. However, her life had a surprise in store for her. On a routine visit to the gynecologist, she is accidentally artificially inseminated by a specimen that is meant for the patient next door. Jane ends up finding out that the “father” of her baby is Rafael (Justin Baldoni), who happens to be her boss and old teenage crush.
The Daily Beast article written by Amy Zimmerman describes the CW series as “genuinely funny, sweet, smart, and wholly original.” The series is based upon a Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, but instead of being 17-years-old Jane is 23. The dramatic aspects of a telenovela are maintained throughout the entire series, while still remaining subtle. Because in reality, who would be artificially inseminated by mistake? Other key moments that keeps the dramatics of the show going include the mysterious drug lord Sin Rostro. Throughout the entire show, this criminal is pursued and ends up posing a threat to Jane’s baby in season two. The feud between Rafael and Michael (Jane’s ex boyfriend) for Jane’s heart is also a focal point of the story. Without giving too much away, there is definitely a great deal of drama to look forward to.
Another beautifully done component of the TV series is the balance with cultural diversity. Part of what makes up Jane’s character is her culture, however, that isn’t the only thing that defines her. As Gina Rodriguez stated, “For once, [she] was reading a script where they weren’t talking about [her] ethnicity…” Unlike other television series, where it is obvious that certain characters are there to check off that “box of diversity,” Jane the Virgin is different. Rodriguez continues by saying, “They weren’t putting a Puerto Rican flag on [her] shoulder. They weren’t putting a taco in [her] hand.” Some of the ways the Latino culture shines throughout the series are through the small bits of Spanish that are included in every episode. In a lot of older TV shows or movies, if Spanish is included it is either something sexual or sexualizes the character. In Jane the Virgin, most of the Spanish is spoken by the “abuela” (grandmother). For me, this really resembles my family structure. I’ll choose whichever language I want to speak in depending on the situation or who I’m speaking to. The overall family structure is pretty head on. Jane has an extremely close relationship with her family, which is shown by the way she consults her family about every decision she makes. This i something I can relate to on a personal level.
(This is a clip of Jane’s abuela and her father Rogelio. It demonstrates how Spanish is included in the show.)
Another subtle representation of Hispanic culture is the religious aspects of the show. Not all, but a great amount of Hispanic families are religion oriented. Especially the older family members like Jane’s abuela. Jane’s abuela is also constantly living in fear of deportation, which is a very harsh reality for many Hispanic immigrants. However, this isn’t something that gets shoved into the viewers face constantly. Just like all the other factors of speaking Spanish, family connections, and religion aren’t emphasized or even acknowledged really. They are there to build an accurate culture without taking up the entirety of the show. It’s a great depiction of a Hispanic-American family.
Overall, Jane the Virgin provides many positive outlooks of Latino culture. Especially just the character of Jane in general. She is a college graduate who is pursuing a Master’s degree. According to the 2006 – 2010 U.S. census, roughly 4% of the Hispanic or Latino population had a graduate or professional degree compared with the 11% of non Hispanic or Latino population. Jane’s character is a great role model for all the Hispanic and Latina girls out there, because many do opt out of pursing higher education after high school.
Out of Jane’s character Gina Rodriguez is a great role model as well. According to IMDB, Rodriguez is a supporter of Inspira, which is an organization that focuses on helping Latino leaders who play a big role in shaping their communities. She has also spoken out about many issues such as racism, body image, and bullying. All of her hard work payed off when she won the 2015 Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Comedy for her role in Jane the Virgin, where she was up against Lena Dunham (Girls), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), and Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black). She is the second Latina to win an award in this category.
So next time you find yourself with nothing to watch, consider watching Jane the Virgin. You can find the entire first season on Netflix.