Earlier this year, I wrote about some springtime binge-worthy shows to combat the post-Oscar movie slump. My last recommendation was a passionate plea to all my readers to jump on the Jane the Virgin bandwagon, at the time just a few episodes away from wrapping up its first season.
And now that season two is off to a brilliant start, I am back with a vengeance.
My friends, when have I ever led you astray? Trust me when I say that if you’re not watching Jane the Virgin, you’re missing out on one of the savviest, sharpest new shows in recent years. Not only does it touch on basically every genre (romance, comedy, mystery, oh my!), it satirizes telenovelas while still remaining incredibly grounded and innovative.
And yes I know I’m probably the poster girl for Jane‘s target audience (Jane is a 23 year-old Venezuelan living in Miami yeah this is a really hard show for me to relate to). But man believe me when I tell you, the story is so rich and expansive, there is something in there for everyone.
Still not sold? Want to do this the long way? Alright here are my top five reasons why you should watch this show immediately:
A premise just wacky enough to work
I’ll be honest — when I first heard about this show, I was not about it. The plot was so bizarre, and I’ve never been a fan of over-the-top soap operas that thrive on drama for drama’s sake. What changed my mind? Gina Rodriguez’s surprising Golden Globes win and her beautifully emotional speech. The first season was only about halfway through so I gave it a chance and binged it all in one weekend. I was hooked by the end of the opening credits. The wacky plot is actually a perfect playground for characters who are so realistically grounded. Despite being a complete satire on the telenovela genre, it still manages to be completely believable by using honest emotions as the show’s structure. Not an easy feat, and one that Jane does brilliantly.
The wonderful family relationship at the crux
I want so badly for Jane and Xo and Abuela to be this generation’s Rory and Lorelai and Emily. I had no idea how hungry I was for a Latino Gilmore Girls but thank you Jane for being everything I didn’t know I needed. Amid all the crazy drama and comedy the show gleefully provides, there is a much deeper story in the beautiful relationship between the three Villanueva women. At its core, Jane is a compelling and unequivocal love story of a multi-generational matriarchy. Despite the vast differences in personality, Jane, Xo, and Abuela are unconditionally supportive of each other and to have that kind of strength be the basis of a show on a major network is really special to see.
Put simply, this kind of show has never been done before. Sure many of its elements can be found in everything from Arrested Development to Ugly Betty. But never have they been combined to such glorious effect. The tightrope walk between self-satire and sincere drama. The use of meta-realism with Jane’s imagination. The intersection of on-screen text and narration. The flawless combination of telenovela conventions with telenovela mocking (sometimes within the same scene). Not only does this keep the show exciting (I can’t recall a single boring moment), but it proves that if you have a clear vision then those weird risks can really pay off. And then there’s the narrator.
Oh my god the narrator. He deserves his own section. The accent that surpasses even the sexiest Latin lover. The sass that can compete with the most flamboyant. The penchant for gossip that no tia or abuela can ever hope to rival. At one moment slyly omniscient and the next completely baffled by a twist. He makes no effort to hide his opinions, voicing every thought you’re having (and at times the thoughts of the characters themselves). Jane‘s use of the narrator is genius and fabulous and innovative and it’s hard to put into words the credit he deserves so seriously just watch it and see for yourself.
It’s so much more than niche
At its most basic, Jane distinguishes itself by not being about white protagonists living in New York or Los Angeles. A show about a Latina living in Miami should be the definition of niche. And yet, everything about it is completely relatable. The themes of family and love are universal, and despite its telenovela tropes, the core of the show is the human emotions that guide every bizarre plot line. It is a rollercoaster of genres that make it impossible not to keep tuning in week after week. And yes I may relate to it on a much deeper level and yes I get a surge of Latino pride every time I watch it and yes the palm trees and shots of Miami make me miss home as I freeze in Boston. But believe me, there is something in Jane for everyone to love.
It’s been eight months of mourning since Parks and Rec ended and while I’m still forever missing Pawnee, I have to say Jane the Virgin has been doing a phenomenal job filling the Lil Sebastian hole in my heart.
This has easily become my new favorite show, and I’m so happy it’s back. Give it a chance. You just might love it.