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Jane The Virgin: Ten Things I’m Thankful For 

Jane is a Virgin. Jane is pregnant. But Jane is not a miracle. When I first heard about this show, it threw in to question everything I ever learned in sex-ed as a kid. But I tuned in anyway (or perhaps because of that) and I fell in love. This show is funny and quirky and clever, but also heartfelt and emotional and real. It brings together so many things that are present individually in other TV shows but that are rarely found all at once. I could name ten things in EACH EPISODE I’m thankful for, but since we all have football games and turkey dinners awaiting us this Thanksgiving, let’s just go with my top ten for the whole show. So here we go.

Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/The CW
Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/The CW

 10. It can turn a ridiculous concept into a genuine and grounded show.  A virgin is accidentally artificially inseminated by the sister of a man she once kissed and had a crush on with the sperm of said man, who also happens to own the hotel where she works and is married to a woman (the one who was SUPPOSED to be inseminated) who the virgin’s ex-fiancee caught cheating with her husband’s best friend, who may or may not be involved with a major drug smuggler and who inadvertently flies out of a window and ends up being impaled by an ice sculpture. Got all that? Obviously this show sounds a little far-fetched and like it has all the makings of a soap opera, which is appropriate since it’s based on a Venezuelan telenovela. However, despite the unlikely plot, when you sit down and watch this show, it feels as real as can be. The focus isn’t on the absurdity of the situation, but rather on how the characters deal with it. We’ve all been in an unexpected or unusual situation and had to deal with it as best we could, which is exactly what these characters are doing. Jane is about to have a baby. Michael is dealing with the end of his relationship. Rafael is trying to impress a girl and keep his business afloat. Xo is attempting to protect her daughter. Rogelio is trying to be a father to a daughter he hardly knows. When you break it down, it’s not all that crazy and this show does an amazing job of making it feel like a surprisingly normal journey.

 9. Jane’s relationship with her mother. Jane and Xo don’t exact have a conventional relationship. Jane has always been more of the adult figure, while her mother, who had Jane at 16, is the more free-spirited “wild child.” After all, her tip to Jane when she broke up with her boyfriend was that “the best way to get over a man is to get under a new man.” Not exactly your typical motherly advice. And sure, she busted out a sexy rendition of “Milkshake” at Jane’s quinceanera and she wears lower cut tops and shorter shirts than I could ever imagine living in Jane’s closet, but none of that affects her love for Jane. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the best move and not one I necessarily agree with, but even when she was hiding the truth about Jane’s father from her, Xo was doing what she thought was necessary to protect her daughter.  And Jane knows that. She knows that even when she is mad at her mother, she can always come back to her when true heartbreak hits. Not to mention that Jane is Xo’s biggest fan, cheering her on at every singing gig and endlessly supporting her dreams. And while it’s clear that the two were close when Jane was growing up and that this dynamic works for them, it looks like it may not remain this way forever, as Xo appears to be doing a little growing up herself. As soon as she realized that her passionate on and off relationship with Rogelio was potentially threatening Jane’s relationship with him, Xo cut it off. Did you hear me? She cut it off! Honestly, everyone swoons as the mere sight of Rogelio’s swagger and the sound of his accent, even grandma, who was adamantly anti-Rogelio at the beginning for obvious reasons. But Xo sacrificed her own happiness for that of her child. When it comes down to it, that’s a real mother.

Photo Credit: Danny Feld/The CW
Photo Credit: Danny Feld/The CW

8. Rogelio. He’s kitschy, he’s cheesy and he’s WAY over the top. As I mentioned before, the show is based on a Venezuelan telenovela and telenovelas are ALL about the kitsch, the cheese and the over-the-topness. But being that this is an American show on The CW, if the entire show had that vibe, I don’t know that anyone would watch. However, throwing in a character like Rogelio not only gives a wink-nod to the show’s melodramatic influence, it also illustrates that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, which I love. To be honest, I don’t know if telenovela stars are really like that off screen (although I’d imagine not), but the fact that Rogelio is basically his telenovela character both on screen and off kind of makes me want to believe that they all are. That being said, if I had to deal with Rogelio in real life, I would not have nearly as much patience as Jane. The second he appeared at the top of the stairs under a spotlight, I would’ve been out the door. He may have no boundaries and be unsure how to connect with his daughter, but he’s a genuinely good guy and because he’s not my long-lost father and he adds a fun element to the show, he deserves a place on my list. Especially when he drinks “regular people” wine.

Photo Credit: Patrick Wymore/The CW
Photo Credit: Patrick Wymore/The CW

7. A narrator who deserves his own Emmy. Many of the shows I love (or have loved) use voiceovers to give us more insight. Some like Arrested Development and Pushing Daisies use narrators. Others like Veronica Mars, Dexter, Sex & The City and The Mindy Project use the voice of the main characters. But for every show that does a good job with their voiceovers, there are a dozen that are awful. Many of them have been cancelled, a few other have managed to eek out a few seasons (in the holiday spirit, I’ve chosen not to name these shows, but you know who you are). However, this show not only has a narrator, but it has a damn good narrator! Nothing about these voiceovers annoy me or take me out of the moment. Instead, they are funny, engaging and repeatedly enhance the show. Unlike most narrators who just give us insight into the series or try to swiftly point out the obvious overarching theme, this narrator is actually an unseen character of his own. He makes jokes, gives his two sense and adds a whole new dimension to the storytelling. And did I mention that in the closed captions, this narrator is credited as “Latin Lover Narrator?” How can you beat that?!

6. A love triangle where guys fight over the girl without actually fighting. This show has a phenomenal love triangle. Jane, Michael and Rafael. Otherwise known as girl, ex-fiancee and inadvertent baby-daddy/former mega crush turned boyfriend. Even before Jane and Rafael started dating, there was obvious tension between Michael and Rafael, as you would expect. Michael was engaged to Jane, Rafael was her former crush and now the father to her soon-to-be child. Michael doesn’t want the baby, but wants to support Jane. Rafael wants the baby but has come to realize that he has feelings for Jane. And to cap it all off, Michael is investigating potential nefarious activity at Rafael’s hotel so they come face to face quite often. But despite the tension, these two haven’t really had it out, which is what I love about this show. Any two guys can be macho and fight it out, but in this show, it’s so much more. In an attempt to be professional, everything they say sounds very official and business-related on the surface, but as the Latin Lover Narrator says “when Rafael and Michael speak, it is often more about what is unspoken than what is spoken.” And thanks to the  clever use of “what he really means” subtitles in a recent scene, we don’t have to read into, instead, we can just read it. The conversation played out something like this:

Rafael: What can I do for you, Detective Cordero?
(Subtitle: I’m so tired of seeing your face around here.)
Michael: Can we talk to you for a sec?
(Subtitle: Stand your entitled ass up.)
Female detective: Apparently there was some names missing from that employee list you gave us.
Michael: We want to make sure it’s just an oversight.
(Subtitle: Stop screwing with us, you arrogant, rich, pretty boy.)
Rafael: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
(Subtitle: I had an amazing sex dream about Jane last night.)
Michael: I know at least one bellboy who worked that night who wasn’t on the list.
(Subtitle: I can’t believe Jane had a sex dream about you.)
Rafael: Anything I can do to help.
(Subtitle: I could make her happy. Happier than you.)
Michael: We need information on him.
(Subtitle: Just stay away from Jane.)
Rafael: No problem.
(Subtitle: Jackass.)
Michael: Great.
(Subtitle: Douchebag.)

Both the writers and the actors deserve major props for this scene. The looks on their faces, the words coming out of their mouths, the obvious (to us) tension. So good. Jane may no longer be engaged to Michael, but now that the tables have turned and she’s dating Rafael, I hope there is more of this to come.

5. A Veronica Mars reference. I love Veronica Mars. Absolutely love it. However, I don’t always love when shows make current pop culture references. Sometimes it works, often it doesn’t. Lucky for Jane, in this case, it was a homerun. When Michael asks Jane if she thinks she’s Veronica Mars when she comes across one of his case files, it made me all warm and fuzzy inside. The fact that Jane could potentially be a Veronica Mars fan makes me adore her even more. Not to mention, it was also in an episode that included an appearance by Michael’s brother, who just happens to be played by Ryan Devlin, who also appeared in Veronica Mars. In Jane, Devlin is super shady, showing up on Michael’s doorstep demanding $2,000 in exchange for not telling Jane about Michael’s past. In Veronica Mars, Devlin played Logan’s super shady friend, Mercer, who also turned out to be a serial rapist and attempted to rape Veronica. I didn’t like him them and I don’t like him now. But that Veronica Mars reference, that I like.

4. A bigger mystery. With a show titled Jane The Virgin, you would think that the mystery would be how did Jane get pregnant?! But no, this show answers that in the first episode and instead gives us a more compelling mystery with what I expect to be a more complex, less clinical solution. Thanks to Michael, we have a little insight in to the shady going-ons at the hotel. There have been not one, but two murders. The first being when Roman Zazo fell to his death (and landed on an ice sculpture) and the second being the bellboy (who just happened to be on duty the same night as Zazo’s death, even though he wasn’t on the call sheet), who was found in the hallway with a corkscrew in his jugular. Michael is currently on the case and continues to believe all these murders are leading him closer and closer to drug Kingpin Sin Rostro (The Man Without A Face). But to me, the real issue is not the evil man that we don’t know (at least not yet) but the evil woman that we do. Can somebody just tell us already what the heck is up with Petra’s mother?! She was introduced early on and pops (or should I say wheels) in and out each episode. She has some sort of facial disfiguration, which its either a result of natural causes, botched plastic surgery or something potentially more violent (like a fire). She is downright mean and manipulative. And she is clearly using her daughter as her pawn, forcing her stay with Rafael, get pregnant and of course moisturize since “her that her looks are all she has going for her.” Not to mention, she also hits (yes, hits!) her own daughter to make it look like Rafael abused her in order to invalidate the prenup. Like I said, mean and manipulative. Me thinks that she has something to do with the bigger plot. And the fact that she and Petra are now holding a man with a peanut-allergy hostage because they owe Milos (who?) money (for what?), doesn’t bode well for them. Only time will tell but I kind of love that this ties the characters together in expected ways and adds an element of darkness to this otherwise bright and colorful show.

3. Adorable Meet Cute. When it comes to TV meet cutes, anything is possible. Whatever romantic, funny, sweet, hilarious circumstance pops in to a writers head can appear in the world of their show. So there are lots of cute meet cutes. And more often than not, it occurs between the couple that you’re rooting for, which only makes you root for them more. But in this case, that’s not the case. And when a meet cute occurs with the guy I’m not favoring and it still makes me cheer, it definitely deserves a nod. I’ll be honest here, I’m team Rafael. Michael has lied, hidden things from Jane and overall, I haven’t exactly been wowed by his behavior, his romantic gestures or his attempted apologies. Not to mention that he messed with a crime scene, so I don’t exactly admire his morals or think he’s good enough for Jane. However, when a flashback to Jane’s 21st birthday showed us how they met, I understood why Jane fell for him. I mean, how often do you mistake a police officer for a stripper and then shoot a hole in your ceiling with his real gun and then end up on the couch watched telenovelas? Granted, it’s mostly because Jane is so adorable, but I’ll give Michael a little credit here. The fact that they turned an awkward case of mistaken identity in to a sweet and sentimental evening, which ended with kissing in the drywall “snow” of the living room, actually made me want Jane and Michael together…well, Jane and Michael from two years ago, but still, he should take what he can get. I don’t know how the heck Jane convinced Michael to stay (and is that really appropriate if you’re an on-duty police officer?!), but it definitely would’ve made for a great moment for them to tell their grandkids had Jane not gotten pregnant and had he not turned in to a jerk and ruined the whole thing.

2. Rafael. Since Michael got his very brief moment, now I have to turn my attention to the more swoon-worthy of Jane’s two suitors, Rafael. They have been adorable together from the beginning and it has only escalated since. Not only does he encourage her to follow her writing dreams, want to be there for her every step of the way during the pregnancy and help her get revenge on her evil stepsisters, but he’s also willing to go the extra mile to woo her. And after last week, I have only four words for you: Most Romantic Night EVER. He ditches high-end clubs to go shopping at Target. He’s scared of ducks. He’s content to stay up all night and just talk. And have you seen that smile?! I don’t know how anyone can be anything other than team Rafael. Forget long walks on the beach or dinner at a fancy restaurant, that romantic first date on the patio eating popcorn and fruit strips is pretty much a dream first date in my book. Seriously, how cute were they?! You can’t deny that they just click. I don’t know what it is, actor chemistry or just downright great acting, but these two have a truly electric connection. It never feels forced or awkward and he is always looking at her adoringly, even when she’s trying to be tough. Swoon. It breaks my heart to think that they can’t just ride off in to the sunset happily ever after (c’mon, this is only episode 7, there’s no way that there isn’t some break-up drama ahead). Sure, he may have been a playboy, but I don’t see that in him now. He wants to get to know her! He wants to raise their baby! He’s a good guy! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Xo for questioning it, but I also can’t blame Jane for choosing to be with him. He managed to squash all her doubts and fears and like I said before, with a smile like this, how can you say no?!

Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/The CW
Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/The CW

1. Gina Rodriguez. This show would not be the super hit it is (it was picked up for a full season after just two episodes!) without Gina at the helm. She makes Jane sweet, sensitive, fun and feisty all at once. Sure, it’s probably written in the script that Jane is a character who knows what she wants and goes for it. However, a character like that could easily come across as stubborn or selfish, but Gina manages to make Jane neither of those things. Instead, Jane comes across as strong, confident and enviable. She’s not only a great role model, but she’s also someone you just want to hang out and be friends with. As far as I’m concerned, Jane is the whole package and that’s in no small part due to Gina. She has chemistry with every member of the cast and her charm and charisma just pop off the screen in every scene, regardless if she’s in a mermaid costume or climbing out of the back of a Mini. There are so many incredible elements in this show, but it’s Gina that has given the show it’s spark and that has without a doubt made it my favorite new show of the season.

Photo Credit: Nino Munoz/The CW
Photo Credit: Nino Munoz/The CW

Be sure to catch Jane The Virgin Monday nights at 9/8c on The CW.

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