If you’re like me, stopping by the CW during midweek primetime has taken a severe halt as of late. The remake of Beverly Hills: 90210 was a ridiculous flop, following the gilded lives of 25-year-old looking 16 and 17-year-olds who, miraculously, never had homework assigned to them. But seriously, how were these kids in three AP classes plus four other classes without being assigned any homework? Ridiculous.

The Vampire Diaries took a turn for the worst after season three. Delena vs. Stelena. Will they? Won’t they? Who cares? I’ll tell you who: no one because we quickly jumped both ships after figuring out how utterly dense and inconsistent the characters were. (PSA: Stop. The. TVD. Writers. At once. Stop.)

As you can see, the CW network’s content wasn’t grabbing its audience. It really really wasn’t. In fact, it was losing its audience.

That is, until there was a slight change in the past two years. What was that change you may ask?


Also, Stephen Amell’s face and abs on Arrow…

jane the virgin
Image via IMDb.

But back to the point: With diversity in media comes a breath of fresh air because — get this — people are hooked by what they’ve never seen. AND, people who relate to these new shows will watch because they see themselves in popular forms of media.

This is exactly what brought me back to the CW on Monday nights to watch Jane the Virgin (Which was just picked up for a second season!).

When the show was being promoted before it aired, billboard signs of a Latin American woman in a cute pink dress holding a pregnancy test caught people’s eyes, especially my own. I even thought, “Huh, she kind of actually looks like me and my cousins. What is this show?” Immediate hook. It also doesn’t hurt that Jane the Virgin follows the same vision of Ugly Betty, a popular remake of one of Latin America’s most popular telenovelas, Betty La Fea.

If there’s one thing that I will always thank the CW for, it’s for bringing this show to life. We now get amazing characters, a crazy plot that embraces the telenovela style, and a culture that we so rarely get to see on major US television (and if we do see it, it is often flagrantly stereotyped).

Right off the bat, Jane the Virgin introduces its main character, Jane Gloriana Villanueva — a smart and charming young woman who just so happens to be a virgin in her mid-twenties (shocking, I know; but, yes folks, virginity is still a thing even at twenty. Deal with it). Making a promise to her abuela that she would remain a virgin until marriage, Jane lives quite a normal life. She works as a waitress at a Miami hotel while she puts herself through school so she can become a teacher.

It may seem like pretty normal stuff, but the great thing about telenovelas is that nothing is coincidence, and they embrace crazy plot twists that keep people wanting more.

True to form, Jane, during a routine check-up at the gynecologist, is suddenly dealt an outrageous hand when she accidentally becomes artificially inseminated with someone’s sperm. And, because telenovelas embrace the wacky and weird, Jane’s baby daddy is actually a man she once shared a brief but “fireworks exploding” kiss with years ago. Oh, and did I forget to mention that Jane’s engaged to another man?

Big whoops.

Now, let’s step back a bit and look at this twisted plot that, to any ordinary person, is absolute bonkers and a rather impossible set of circumstances. So why am I and so many people I know invested in this ridiculous story of a young virgin who becomes artificially inseminated during a seemingly harmless routine check-up at the gyno?

Here’s why…

Don’t Take Yourself so Seriously:

The downfall of several dramas has been that they take themselves too seriously. To an extent, Jane the Virgin is a drama that tells the story of a dramatic event in a young woman’s life, but the creators of the show understand that the execution has to be funny in order to make an audience more receptive. Jane the Virgin is a perfect balance of drama and comedy, evolving into a “dramedy” that knows when to embrace the seriousness of a situation and when to balance that seriousness with a bit of laughter.

Jane finding out she is pregnant is, of course, a somber and rather awkward exchange. This particular scene is treated rather seriously by Jane, who takes the news appropriately and freaks out. What the creators decided to do, though, was to also showcase the comedy to cut the gravity of the situation; this is seen when Jane’s mother gets down on her knees and prays in the background of the doctor’s office while repeating “Immaculada!” and crossing herself. (“An immaculate conception!”). Comedy gold, people.

What also keeps the comedy of this show so consistent is the implementation of an “all-knowing” male narrator who pops in every now and then to keep the audience current and to give us insight into the characters inner-dialogue. We can hear his accent and his charm throughout the show, and he makes us laugh and reminds us that, although we are watching a drama, we are also watching a comedic set of circumstances.

So, although Jane the Virgin follows in the footsteps of dramatic, over the top telenovelas, it also veers away from its origins by adding hints of comedy, making the show such a refreshing story to watch.

Generations of Women:

This is not only the story of Jane Gloriana Villanueva, but rather the story of all the Villanueva women: Xiomara — Jane’s mother; Alba — Jane’s grandmother; and, of course, Jane. These women have seen different times and different struggles, and their interactions with each other are what ties this entire show together.

Easily passing the Bechdel Test in its first 30 seconds, we watch three “real women” under one household fight for what they believe in. For some it is religion and for others it is their dreams, but, in all cases, these women support each other, love and encourage each other, and offer one another insight and advice. They fight and argue, laugh and cry, watch their favorite telenovela together, and run a household as a unit of loving and strong-willed women who are trying to achieve their dreams.

For those who pay attention to female representation in media, the story of three generations of women in Jane the Virgin follows in the footsteps of shows like Gilmore Girls — which is so refreshing to see on our television screens again, only this time with a spark of Latin flavor. It is also incredibly rare to see women of different ages occupy the same space in television. These days we are so used to a full male ensemble with perhaps a few women scattered here and there (i.e. Big Bang Theory, Entourage, Sons of Anarchy). But with shows like Gilmore Girls, Orange Is the New Black, The 100, and the newly added Jane the Virgin, female representation in media is becoming increasingly prominent. Instead of three men and one woman occupying one scene, we are seeing three women and one man occupying a scene together, talking about women’s issues and what we as women go through on a daily basis — and it’s a lot more than just “boy talk,” that’s for sure.

The Men:

Now, a good telenovela cannot be complete without its leading men, and, oh boy, William Levy doesn’t have anything on the three male leads in this show (that’s right, only three).

Rafael Solano is our reformed bad boy of the show who’s stuck in an unhappy marriage with the main villain of the story… and he is also Jane’s baby daddy. Apart from being tall, handsome, and making rolled-sleeved dress shirts look really fab, Rafael is a person who listens and cares for the people around him. He loves his troubled sister to the point where he is willing to put his job and money on the line for her, and he has an “all in” mentality when he finds out that Jane is carrying his child. Rafael is simply that good guy who is making up for years and years of causing havoc in the lives of others. He’s not perfect, but damn is he close.

Michael, one of the two white characters in the show (and the only white male), is Jane’s detective fiancé who starts out as a suspicious character, but he is actually a good-hearted dude just trying to make his relationship with Jane work even after he finds out that she is pregnant with another man’s baby. Michael makes mistakes and has his flaws, but before you know it, you begin rooting for him despite his conflict in a messed up love triangle between him, Rafael, and Jane.

And last but not least, we cannot forget Rogelio. If there’s one gem in this show that you’d never expect to be a gem, it is Rogelio De La Vega. Rogelio, simply put, is the funniest, most genuine character you will ever come across on television. He’s charming and a tad self-centered (he is a telenovela star after all), but he is genuinely invested in creating a bond and connection with Jane after he finds out that she is his daughter (DUN DUN DUN!). Just trust me when I say that Rogelio will change your life and make you want to hug your TVs and computers whenever he enters a scene. If nothing else appeals to you about Jane the Virgin, I am telling you right now: Rogelio will keep you coming back for more.

Still Not Convinced?

Well, then you’re a lost cause, and you should probably leave.

Just kidding! (kinda)

But in all seriousness, if my words do not convince you to watch Jane the Virgin, then giving the pilot a chance surely will. I’m not saying this just because it is one of my favorite television shows, I’m saying it because shows like Jane and shows like Ugly Betty are all designed to make our media-centric world a little better.

It is so rare that we get a program that showcases a diverse cast of people who don’t usually get a voice in a predominantly male and predominantly white form of media. It challenges audiences to view people not just through a stereotypical lens, but in a way that makes the characters and people they represent more “real” to us as a societal whole.

In that vein, it makes our television viewership just a little bit more colorful and fun. And that’s what we are all looking for when we want to be entertained. We want to turn on the television and see new things, explore new ideas, and be exposed to another world that isn’t our own. That’s what Jane the Virgin offers. It offers us a golden nugget of diverse and funny characters who not only embrace their telenovela antics, but who also welcome their audience to something new and refreshing that we can’t find anywhere else.

So, watch Jane the Virgin everyone! I swear on Rogelio de la Vega’s life that you won’t regret it.

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