- Series Title: Jane the Virgin
- Season: Season 1
- Episodes: 22
- Discs: 5 (Blu-Ray)
- Network: CW
- Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll, Justin Baldoni, Brett Dier, Jaime Camil, Yael Grobglas, Anthony Mendez
- Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1
Jane the Virgin is a Spanish Soap Opera (or telenovela, as they are called in Spanish). The series is an adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela, but it also follows (and occasionally break) US soap opera conventions. However, the show is also funny, romantic, heart-breaking, and at times it has a lot of heart. I was expecting humor from this show – I wasn’t expecting it to have heart. The soap format makes it addictive, but the heart – that one truly cares about the characters – makes it work.
I watch a lot of the CW, so I saw trailers and commercials for Jane the Virgin when it premiered. And those trailers did not impress me. It looked like a comedy that poked fun at a girl for her life choices – and I never watched it. Then I started recording on my DVR something that aired just before Jane the Virgin – and the narrated intros drew me in. I then checked Amazon, and even Google to find the first season on DVD. Only to find that it was out of print, but that CBS was planning a Blu-Ray release – eventually. One year later, I finally got my copy. I’m glad I did though because I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and I pretty much binge watched it.
Jane is a young Hispanic woman, living with her single mother and her grandmother. As a young girl, her grandmother pretty much puts the fear of god into her about losing her virginity. So Jane vows to not have sex until she’s married. She’s been with the same guy, Michael, for two years, and the two are now engaged. She’s in college, studying to be a teacher, and almost ready to graduate. And she has a waitressing job at a nearby hotel. One morning, early morning, she has a normal OB/GYN appointment – and she ends up pregnant. The doctor, who was filling in for her regular OB/GYN, is told by her nurse she has a pap in one room – and an insemination in the other. The doctor, who had caught her spouse in bed with someone else the previous night – is a bit of a mess, and mixes things up. Jane gets pregnant.
To the show’s credit, the option of abortion is discussed, even with Jane and her family being both Hispanic and Catholic. Jane’s mother even picks up the prescription for her. Jane learns the sperm specimen belonged to Rafael, who, because of cancer and chemo is now sterile. As Rafael and Petra seem to be a strong couple, Jane decides she will go through the pregnancy, have the baby, and give it to Rafael and Petra.
Meanwhile, Michael at first tells Jane to not have the baby. Then he says he doesn’t want it. He’s also dishonest with Jane about information he learns about Petra. Since the information came to light during an investigation of the hotel, Michael could have said the information – that Petra is having an affair – was protected as part of an investigation, but instead, he lies. All of this and more leads to Jane breaking up with Michael.
Jane also has a connection with Rafael and falls in love with him. Once he is divorced from Petra – Rafael falls in love with Jane. But as in all soaps – love doesn’t run smoothly.
The third man in Jane’s life is Rogelio de la Vega, her father. Jane’s mother, Xiomara, had gotten pregnant at 16. And when Jane, who never knew her father, started asking questions, Xiomara made up a story about a soldier boy. But it turns out Jane’s father is now a famous telenovela star. He returns, and slowly Rogelio and Xiomara start to fall in love. But, again, because: soap opera, their love doesn’t run smoothly either.
The hotel that Rafael’s father owns (later Rafael, Petra, and his sister, Luisa aka the doctor who inseminated Jane) is a hotbed of activity. Michael and his police partner, Nadine, are investigating a big drug lord, whom they think is based in the hotel. And there are three murders in the hotel in the course of the season. And, needless to say – the murders and rumors of crime are having an effect on the finances of the hotel – because they start to lose guests and functions.
Jane, her mother, and her grandmother are all very strong women. The other female characters, Petra, her mother, and Nadine are strong too. Petra is the villain of the show, in grand soap opera style, but at times – she’s sympathetic too.
Rogelio is hilarious. In some ways, he’s the stereotype of an actor – ego-centric, vain, out of touch with reality – but he cares deeply for Jane now that he knows about her, and his feelings for Xiomara seem genuine. Rogelio is also willing to make sacrifices for his family, now that he knows about them.
The series has a narrator to remind viewers what is going on, and to fill in the gaps and comment on the action. I love the narrator – he’s great! There is also pop-up information on the screen, that is almost like a cheeky comment too. Or it provides legitimate help to the viewer. The series also occasionally breaks into showing Jane’s fantasies. There’s, at times, a heightened realism to the show, but also a use of things like on-screen heart emojis to show love.
I really enjoyed the first season of Jane the Virgin and I will be purchasing additional seasons. Highly Recommended.