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Sunday, July 05, 2020

TV Rewind | Jane the Virgin: The self-aware soap opera

Spanning over five seasons, Jane the Virgin is a self-aware take on telenovelas while it maintains its emotional sincerity.

Written by Sampada Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: May 31, 2020 1:58:50 pm
tv rewind jane the virgin Jane the Virgin relies on drama to amp up the plot but always goes back to its emotional roots.

‘Who doesn’t like watching unrealistic love stories with some over the top drama?’ I believe that the makers of Jane the Virgin went ahead with this approach and every time they were asked how many twists they wanted in a single season of the show, they just said a blanket ‘Yes’.

Jane the Virgin is the story of Jane Gloriana Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez), and the show kicks off with the reveal that Jane has gotten accidentally pregnant via artificial insemination, hence the name. Spanning over five seasons, Jane the Virgin is a self-aware take on telenovelas while it maintains its emotional sincerity.

What is Jane the Virgin all about?

Jane the Virgin starts with Jane’s miraculous pregnancy, but as we get deeper into the show, it’s obvious that Jane the Virgin is a feel-good show that relies on drama to amp up the plot but always goes back to its emotional roots.

At the center of the show is Jane’s love triangle story with Michael (Brett Dier) and Rafael (Justin Baldoni). Michael is Jane’s long-time boyfriend, and Rafael happens to be her baby’s father. Rafael also has a wife named Petra, who is the quintessential scheming vamp (Yael Grobglas) of the series. The series is well supported by Jane’s mother Xo (Andrea Navedo) and grandmother Alba (Ivonne Coll).

jane the virgin Jane the Virgin is at its emotional best when the three woman are at the center.

What works for Jane the Virgin?

Jane the Virgin is structured like a telenovela (similar to a soap opera) but in a self-aware fashion. This means that when the story goes out to introduce evil twins, sudden deaths, supposed dead character coming back to life among other weird plot points, they show it like they mean it, but the voice-over that strings the whole show together, acknowledges the absurdity of it all.

Since the show is like a soap opera, every season is packed with major events, and it would be impossible for even a regular viewer to sum it all up. But the ones that matter here are given due attention vs the shaky sub-plots that seem to drag on for ages. But it is in romantic scenes and plots that Jane the Virgin pulls all the stops.

Since we are talking about the plot, Jane the Virgin played up some of its best plot points in the initial seasons. Jane getting caught in a dilemma over Rafael and Michael, suspicion around Rafael’s true intentions, Michael being the too-good-to-be-true boyfriend, Petra’s evil twin sister were some of the most engaging plot points here. Jane’s mystical connection with her grandmother Alba gave this show its strong foundation in terms of showing promising relationships.

For me, all was fine in this paradise until Season 4, that’s when things started going south.

What doesn’t work for Jane the Virgin?

Jane the Virgin ran for only 100 episodes over five seasons and, unlike its inspiration, was never stretched like a soap opera. But for me, the show was its weakest after they killed off Michael.

jane the virgin tv show It’s hard to root for Jane and Rafael, especially after Michael’s return.

Up until the mid-point of Season 3, Michael is shown to be Jane’s one true love, and in this show’s universe, they make you believe that it’s a promise of a lifetime. His sudden death is tragic and after a time leap in the next episode, you are told that Jane’s having a hard time dealing with his passing. Her professional life gets a boost and then the inevitable happens, she is given various love interests until Rafael is back in her life.

It wasn’t like the show was lost after Michael’s death, but it truly lost the plot when Michael returned in the Season 4 finale.

The last season had to tie a lot of loose ends and in the midst of all that, the track of Michael returning and watching the first season love triangle at play all over again got a bit tiring. It’s difficult for a show to establish a convincing love story but then to walk away from it and establish another love interest is an even harder task.

Binge-worthy or not?

Jane the Virgin is a light-hearted romantic comedy with shades of crime and thriller. The characters here are likeable, and the visual aesthetic of the show is soothing enough for you to binge many episodes in one go. The show packs the best of both worlds – the scheming sauciness of soaps balanced perfectly with picture-perfect romance.

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Jane the Virgin is streaming on Netflix.

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