Jane the Virgin (2014-ongoing)

A young, devout Catholic woman discovers that she was accidentally artificially inseminated during a doctor's appointment (from IMDb).


I remember reading about this in the list of new shows airing in America in 2014, and thinking it would be worth a watch. I just never ended up getting round to it at the time, the same with iZombie, but recently found the time to watch it. And watch it I did, because I watched all twenty-two episodes of season 1 in one day. 

Our main character is Jane, a young girl who is waiting for marriage before losing her virginity. This stems from an oath she made when she was a little girl to her grandmother, who didn't want Jane ending up getting pregnant by some random boy when she was sixteen, like Jane's own mother had all those years ago. The show all starts off somewhat normal and believable, honest it does. Then it just sorts of stops pretending to exist in the world of normalcy and logic, and just delves head-first into ridiculousness. But it pays off. 

Jane ends up getting accidentally inseminated at the doctors when she went for a pap smear, and ends up pregnant. Jane finds out the mistake when she faints on a bus and is taken to A&E, and the attendant informs her the reason she fainted is because she's pregnant. Jane, and her mother, are shocked to say the least. Her mother even briefly thing Jane could be the next virgin Mary. And so begins the very unexpected twist in Jane's life that kinds of fucks up all of her plans. There was room for surprises, sure, but definitely not having a baby before having sex. 

The pregnancy brings Rafe back into Jane's life, a man she kissed once about five years ago. To him, he doesn't even remember it; but to Jane it felt like an incredibly romantic spur-of-the-moment thing that she would remember forever. While Jane has always been a good girl, Rafe is a reformed playboy. His life was a mess of women and drugs until a few years ago, when he was diagnosed with cancer. The two meet again and reconnect, finally in a similar place in their lives, which causes some issues considering he's married and she's engaged. 

Rafe is married to Petra, who really isn't a nice person. Introduced as a man-eater who is cheating on him, Petra's not exactly written to be liked. Their marriage is pretty much over, but Rafe doesn't want to admit that and Petra isn't going to let that happen. That's why she goes to get Rafe's sperm defrosted and plans to get herself inseminated. She was in the room beside Jane's at the doctor's office, and the doctor was having a pretty bad day, and so that's how this whole mess started. Petra is a manipulative, scheming bitch but I actually really grew to like her. For all her flaws, she is very fierce and fights for what she wants. That, at least, can be respected. Unlike Jane, she uses sex and her looks as her weapons, and she wields them to very good effect. Their marriage quickly goes to shit in the show, but her presence doesn't have any intention of fading from Rafe's life. His life is kind of a mess anyway, so Petra isn't really the biggest problem. 

In turn, Jane is dating Michael, a detective with the Miami Police Department. They met two or so years before the start of the show, when he came to her house on police business after a noise complaint from her neighbours and she mistook him for a stripper due to his uniform and it being her 21st. It's very much a meet cute, but with a little bit of a twist, and I kind of really liked it as their origin story. It was a little unexpected, but charming in its own way. 

I actually grew really attached to Michael. In the first episode, I was rather apprehensive of him, because he seemed sweet but understandably weirded out by the situation of finding the girlfriend he had plans to marry was pregnant with another man's child. I thought he would turn out to be an ass, and Rafe would turn out to be the wonderful guy. In episode 2 my fears were confirmed, or so I thought. As the show went on, I quickly realised Michael was actually a really, really good guy who just sometimes has very poor judgement. He really cares for Jane, helping her and standing by her side when she needs him even after she ends things between them. He's just a little bit stupid. I love him anyway, and his smile melts my cold, dead heart. I kind of like Rafe; my opinion changed every episode I watched, cause sometimes he could do nice things and then he would just be an ass. I couldn't make up my mind about him. He wasn't like Michael, not for me.

The Jane/Michael/Rafe love-triangle isn't the only focus of the show, though it's obviously central to the plot. The secondary story lines really flesh out the other characters, and really gives the show that something extra. The budding romance of Xiomara (Jane's mother) and Rogelio (Jane's father) is actually rather sweet, cause he's so in love with himself but also falling in love with the idea of being a father. But if romance isn't you thing, Jane the Virgin also provides some detective work as Michael and his partner, Nadine, try to catch 'Sin Rostro', an elusive drug lord who seems to have ties to the hotel Jane works at and that Rafe owns/manages. The story line is clever, and takes some very dark turns, as they close in on the drug ring, and I enjoyed it a lot. 

So yeah, lots going on in Jane the Virgin. The entire thing is mad and highly dramatic, but that's kind of the point. The show is very aware of how implausible it all is, and just runs with it. Since Jane has grown up with her idea of romance being moulded by telenovelas, the show takes inspiration from that and seems very modern in its concept. The humour is part silly, part highly pointed and clever, so it's a very interesting mix. I did find myself hooked very quickly, and loved the voice-over guy who introduces every episode, the way they do in telenovelas.

I've already started onto season 2, which has about seven or eight episodes out at the minute. If you have some time, I suggest giving this a go because it's something a little bit different than other shows I've watched for a while. Something very upbeat and humorous, but smart and self-aware. I'd like to see more shows like this. 

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