NO LOVE AND HAPPINESS: ‘Jane the Virgin’ Rewards Patience

Relax.  There’s no need to rush.

And yet, there’s been a deluge of a rush of judgement when it comes to Jane the Virgin, which can be seen on forums all over the internet.  Potential viewers roasted the show’s premise, convinced that it was an abomination before an episode ever aired.  From my viewpoint, as someone who has actually watched the show, we are lucky as hell to have Jane the Virgin as our first Americanized telanovela (aka Spanish soap opera).  If you have patience, you’ll be pleasantly surprised over and over again.

Some critics have assumed that the show is basically plastic, feigning a connection to the telenovas that inspired it while exploiting an obvious plot device that hints of blasphemy.  I’ve found that the homage is done quite well, from the narrator’s smooth accent to Jane’s grandmother that declines to speak English (which I’ve heard that my own abuela used to do). The overly dramatic style is saved for only one character, who’s Captain Kirk-esque camera hamming hilariously never turns off even if the cameras have.

Plenty of characters come and go at a furious pace.  If one were to assume that they are simple plot props, then they won’t seem to have a genuine purpose to the main storyline.  However, if you’ll overlook their expendability then you’ll be rewarded with great free standing episodes that help connect the dots in the intricate serialized plot.  Also, none of their auxillary performances leave a wake that the main actors can’t ride on their own.  The acting is anchored by Gina Rodriguez’ portrayal of Jane, which is nothing short of spectacular.  She’s worth tuning in to the show all by herself, but her castmates aren't slouches, either.

If you think a show about immaculation would be the furthest thing from sexy as possible, you’d be dead wrong.  There’s plenty of smoldering hot encounters, with two passionate scenes in particular including the virgin herself.  The constant buildup that occurs just adds to their meaningfulness when they eventually happen.  Many of the emotional moments of the show are handled the same way, with some that will make your heart sink when a character is treated poorly, while others will have you rolling in laughter with their absurdity.

Speaking of which, the unusual premise of the show is impossible to ignore, even with so many other things occurring around Jane.  However, the plot is never used for cheap laughs or the center of attention.  In fact, many of the decisions made by the characters (which can be seen coming a mile away) are fleshed out so effectively that they make perfect sense.  The unbelievable not only ends up plausible, but relatable as well.

The biggest surprise for me is how incredibly funny the show is.  The writing is very clever, consistently balancing the dramatic storytelling with plenty of unforced comedy.  Simple things like segues are used to sneak funny moments into the serious ones, with characters in different scenes hilariously finishing each other sentences.  The narrator is so much more than that, acting as a fellow viewer that drops helpful commentary, sometimes with a popcorn munching enthusiasm for all the complex emotions and drama.  The ‘typewriter’ acts as his visual counterpart, typing out important points to quickly keep the viewers up to speed with all the plot twists.  Both thankfully manage to remain fresh week after week.

If you allow Jane to tell you its story, you’ll never look back.

Has Jane the Virgin made an impression on you?
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