About a year ago, I was out driving and heard a radio spot for a new TV show on The CW: A virgin discovers she’s pregnant. Hilarity ensues? This should be worth an episode of amusement, but not much more, I thought. And then Jane the Virgin turned out to be my television obsession for the next 22 episodes.
Not because it’s hilarious—which it is. Not because of the absurdly charming narrator—which it has. And not because of the occasional glimpse of Justin Baldoni’s abs—though I can’t say that hurts. But it’s a little bit of all those things and so much more. I’d say it’s that je ne sais quoi, but for this pseudo-telenovela, perhaps un no sé qué would be more accurate.
If you still haven’t jumped into this stunningly different and charming show, here’s the scoop: Jane is indeed a virgin, waiting for marriage, which is coming soon with her fiancé Michael. Then due to walking in on her wife with another woman, her gynecologist is quite distracted on the day of Jane’s annual exam and accidentally inseminates her instead of another patient.
Spoilers ahead, though the show has so much to offer, I don’t think it’ll hurt you to read the next paragraph if you still need convincing to watch.
The sperm came from the distraught gynecologist’s brother, who backed her post-alcoholic-rehab malpractice insurance with his hotel, where Jane works as a waitress. (Oh, and she kissed him once a few years ago.) His wife was using the sperm—his only sample, which he stored before cancer treatment—without his knowledge in hopes of making the marriage last a bit longer for the divorce payout. Toss in some cheating, some murders, a little hostage-holding, and that is the least complicated that things get for the entire rest of the season.
Jane has a lot to offer that you won’t find on many other shows, but primarily and most clearly is that this isn’t a show about Jane and her fiancé, nor is it a show about Jane and Rafael, whose baby she’s now growing. Jane the Virgin is a show that is, at its heart, simply about three women: Jane, her mother, and her grandmother. Three women who live together and support each other through relationships, career problems, immigration problems, and everything else that comes their way. No matter what, it always comes back to Jane, Xo, and Alba.
The show is based on a Venezuelan telenovela, Juana la Virgen. It’s OK if you can’t see yourself watching soaps, much less telenovelas. Jane will make you consider flipping to Univision in hopes of finding more like it. Especially once you discover that Jamie Camil (“Rogelio”—can’t tell you more!) is an actual telenovela star. And be reassured—even one of the show’s creators was initially uncertain about whether it was a good idea.
In the DVD set’s featurette “Immaculate Creation,” about how the show came into being, executive producer Ben Silverman talks about fellow executive producer/showrunner/writer Jennie Snider Urman’s initial reluctance. “They told me the title, and I thought, that’s way too crazy. I’m not going to do that show,” she says. “It just started to emerge as this fairy tale about fate and destiny and generations of women, and I said, ‘Actually, I am very interested. I’ll do this.'”
Sounds a lot like how I came to the show as a fan.
I could wax lovingly about the wonders of this show for days (and probably have, if you check in with my friends). From its beautiful color palette and Jane’s love for Target shopping (because who doesn’t?) to the representation of Latina characters and Catholic faith, I never get tired of Jane.
The show got off to a slow start in the ratings and peaked at 1.55 million viewers in its first season. But a string of awards, including a Best Actress Golden Globe for star Gina Rodriguez after only nine episodes helped secure its second season. If you weren’t one of those 1.55 million, you can pick up the first season on DVD today to catch up before the second season begins. The five-disc set includes:
- All 22 episodes of the first season (of course)
- Jane the Virgin: Immaculate Creation: Interviews about the creation of the show
- Getting to Know the Cast of Jane the Virgin: The show’s actors get to ask each other questions and guess the answers, Newlyweds-style
- Gag Reel: Favorite moment: Someone off-camera at a photoshoot saying, “Gina, I can see your Spanx.” (It’s not just us!)
- Deleted scenes: Because you can’t get enough Jane
Alas, there’s no Blu-Ray edition, and compared to some shows, the DVD extras are a bit light. On the one hand, a show this wonderful stands well on its own and is worth owning. On the other hand, as fans, we would always be happy with more. But if you’re not a DVD-extras lover, Netflix announced yesterday that it has acquired streaming rights to the show, though with Netflix, you can never be certain when a show will disappear.
The good news for any Jane fan on top of all of this is that season two starts October 12. Team Rafael or Team Michael? No matter what, always Team Jane, Xo, and Alba.