Jane the Virgin





Paul Asay
Emily Clark
Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

Unexpected pregnancies can really make life chaotic—especially when you’ve never even had sex.

Jane Villanueva knows the feeling. One day she’s just a normal young adult—waitress, college student, wannabe writer—the next she’s been artificially inseminated by a doctor who got her procedures mixed up.

And the next—well, she’s a new mom who has a seriously crazy love life. No, I mean really crazy.

First, she dated her baby’s dad (Rafael) while fending off the guy’s former fiancée (Petra), who was constantly trying to cover for her somewhat murderous, possibly deceased, hook-handed mother (Magda). After breaking it off with Rafael, Jane got married to her best friend, Michael. But, of course, Michael died unexpectedly, leaving Jane a widow. Now, Jane’s back with her baby daddy (Rafael) and about to get engaged. But, in Season Five, Michael mysteriously comes back from the dead right before Rafael has a chance to pop the question. Now, Jane must decide who she will choose.
If that all sounds a little like a bad telenovela, well, that’s the point. Jane the Virgin, CW’s clever and problematic comedy, is riffing on the outlandish Spanish-language programming that Jane’s own grandmother dearly loves. And, naturally, Jane’s father is a self-absorbed telenovela star. This is a world in which someone’s always finding a long-lost rich and snobby cousin or nefarious great uncle with an eye patch. It’s certainly the only show we know of (Arrested Development not withstanding) that requires a full-time narrator just to keep all the plot strands straight.

It’s silly and salacious, and proud to be. Characters jump in and out of bed with one another like spring-loaded teddy bears. Most everyone has some sort of horrific secret they’re just dying to share with us. Sexual dalliances of every stripe are common. Dire news and death lurks around every corner—though in a show like this, death itself is somewhat relative.

And yet Jane the Virgin, like its titular character, is sweet and well-meaning and oddly pure.

Perhaps pure isn’t the right word. The show, obviously, isn’t shy about its negative content issues. But there’s a certain winsomeness that clings to it despite all those problems, and we owe a lot of that to Jane herself. Here is a young woman who kept her virginity because of her own personal values. She’s not socially inept (even though she wouldn’t believe that). She’s not a prude. She’s certainly not immune to sexual temptation. (Something we see a little too much of, actually.) She’s witty and charming and refreshingly normal—three characteristics you rarely see connected with virgin in movies or television.

Jane also allows for God’s name to be used more often as a petition than a swear word. “[God] has a plan,” Jane’s grandmother, Alba, tells her. “I truly believe that. But it better be good.” And while people sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) make mistakes, many really are trying to do what’s right here—not for just themselves, but for others as well.

As for the CW’s long-range plans for this show, though—like how many people we’ll see sleep together, how many will mysteriously die in freakish soda can accidents, how many will wind up being gold-mine-owning long-lost great aunts of Jane once removed—that may be an even bigger mystery than God’s plan for Jane. It’s certainly a more sordid one.

Episode Reviews

July 31, 2019: “Chapter One Hundred”

“Telenovelas…always have an ending, but it’s a happy one. The good people get what they deserve, and there’s usually a wedding!”

Alba, Jane’s grandmother, reminds the audience of this as Jane and Rafael prepare for their wedding day. And in traditional telenovela style, all loose ends are tied up. Rafael learns the truth about his biological parents, Xiomara makes a final decision about moving to New York for her husband’s new job, Petra (ex-wife of Rafael turned best friend) gets her own happy ending, and Jane finds the perfect ending for her novel.

Jane and Rafael decide not to sleep apart the night before their wedding (though a last-minute family emergency separates them anyway). Several couples kiss, including two women who share a passionate smooch. As Jane changes clothes in the back of a bus, we see her in a bra. A woman is nearly exposed when she twirls in a short dress. Women wear low-cut tops.

Adults drink alcoholic beverages while giving toasts and a cocktail hour is mentioned. Rafael is arrested after breaking a guardrail that had trapped him in a parking lot. Lina (Jane’s best friend) throws up in a plant and reveals it is morning sickness. A family jokes about “tooting” and exchanges grossed out looks when one of the children farts. “A–” and “d–n” are each used once, and a character says “screw it.” God’s name is misused four times.

Jane mentions something about “marrying our spirits” as part of the wedding ceremony. Alba wears a cross necklace and reflects on happy memories with her daughter and granddaughter, many of which involved teaching them about her Catholic faith. In a list of Jane’s passions, God is one of them.

March 27, 2019: “Chapter Eighty-Two”

Jane is shocked when her formerly deceased husband, Michael, comes back from the dead. Rafael plans to propose to Jane, but is unsure of how to move forward given Jane’s current predicament. Petra, Rafael’s ex-wife, tries to win back her former girlfriend and lawyer, Jane Ramos, after she attempts to kill Petra’s ex-husband.

Jane and her family celebrate Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) by visiting the grave site of a deceased loved one. A man lies on the floor after being shot in the arm. He lives, but a little blood covers the floor. A woman threatens to kill an ex-husband. A man passes out.

Two women discuss their former love lives and current affection for one another. A few women wear cleavage-baring tops and a girl walks around in a tshirt and underwear.A few stories are told about a man with a gambling problem, a man who suffered from elctroshock therapy, a man who formerly sold illegal weapons and a woman getting drunk and hiring a stripper.

God’s name is misused three times and the word “freakin” is heard four times.

Jane the Virgin – Nov. 23, 2015 “Chapter Twenty-Nine”

Jane and Rafael try to hire a babysitter so they can go out on their first official date, while she and Petra try to foster an unlikely friendship. Unfortunately, Petra’s mother accidentally killed someone (she meant to slap the guy, forgetting she had a hook for a hand), and the dead body is getting in the way. Petra tries to help smuggle the body out of their apartment building and bury it, and we see the corpse propped up in various poses.

There’s betrayal, and talk of alcoholism and lesbianism. Jokes are traded about getting some “action” and being “flaccid.” Jane’s mother is seen (in a speculative flash-forward) making out with a guy. We hear several references to drug dealers and drug rings. And in that vein we hear this facetious line: “I want to sell the world some coke.” Characters drink wine, and Jane (who just started drinking again after giving birth) gets drunk. She’s horrified when she knocks a plate of deviled eggs on a woman she hopes will be her writing advisor, then is doubly horrified when she finds herself trying to brush the eggs off the woman’s breasts.

We hear “d–n” and “p—” once each. God’s name is misused a half-dozen times.

Jane the Virgin – Oct. 20, 2014 “Chapter Two”

Jane asks her fiancé and family to refer to the fetus as a “milkshake,” emphasizing that it’s a momentary inconvenience, to be carried and passed on. But when she see the sonogram images and hears the heartbeat, she realizes there’s more to it than that.

“I just didn’t want it to take over my life and change everything,” she sobs to her mother, “but it’s going to because it’s not a stupid milkshake. It’s a baby.”

We see some revealing selfies. Jane’s mom, Xiomara (called Xo), and her former lover (Jane’s father) Rogelio are discovered in bed together. In flashback, she performs a lewd dance to the tune “Milkshake,” thrusting her pelvis and showing cleavage during Jane’s Quinceañera. (She’s doing it to help Jane in a roundabout way, but still.) Luisa and her lesbian lover/stepmother, Rose, passionately make out. It’s implied that Petra has sex with Zazo. (We see stills of them kissing and caressing, undressed but mostly covered up.) There’s a bit of a suggestion of violence in their relationship, and Zazo is later found impaled by an ice sculpture, a blood-tainted ice stalagmite sticking through his chest.

An unopened bottle of vodka sits in front of recovering alcoholic Luisa. Drinks are served at a party. There are pictures of Rafael being kicked out of bars. We hear “d–n” three times and “freakin'” four, along with several misuses of God’s name. Rafael and Petra talk divorce. There’s a reference to tarot cards.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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