A Love Letter to Jane

Friends, when Daniela Andreina Vasquez Hernandez was 22 years old, her life would change forever. It was the 72nd Golden Globe Awards, and our Daniela was living in San Diego watching the ceremony by herself when history was made — Gina Rodriguez beat all the odds and won “Best Actress in a TV Series” for a little freshman show (then only 9 episodes in) called Jane the Virgin. 

You may recall, she hadn’t yet started watching this “weird show about a pregnant virgin I guess??” but as she watched Gina take the stage and give her speech with tears falling down her face, she was surprised to find her own eyes watering. By the time the speech was over, she had made up her mind to give the show a shot.

And friends… before the credits even rolled on the first episode, our Daniela was hooked…

It’s been almost five years since that fateful night when I watched Gina talk about the importance of this show, about how that award “represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes.” It was historic. A female-led show based on a Venezuelan telenovela had broken through and given The CW its first ever Golden Globe win and — in the age of streaming — the only major network that night to take home a statue.

I know. Straight out of a telenovela right?

On Wednesday night, this wonderful, wacky, hilarious, heartbreaking, beautiful show came to an end. After five seasons, it was time to read the final chapter and turn the last page. And in a year of so many disappointing finales, Jane the Virgin‘s “Chapter 100” was, in a word, perfect.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about our JaneFour years ago, I wrote Why You Should Drop Everything and Watch Jane the Virgin — and I still stand by every single word. Even more so today, after following and loving these characters so deeply over the past four years.

Back in 2015, I couldn’t find myself in any of the shows I watched so obsessively. Jane was the best kind of surprise, a gift that has never stopped giving, especially now as Latinx representation in television has increased (thank God for One Day at a Time getting saved and I hope it runs for a thousand years and please protect Rita Moreno at all costs).

But back then, Jane was… more than a breath of fresh air; it was a lifesaver, a window into what it could have been like to grow up watching people who looked and spoke and acted like me and my family, portrayed without stereotypes, without mockery. Instead, we were real, messy, fun, imperfect, resilient, smart.

And then it was more than that. Having the Villanueva women at the heart of the show kept it grounded through its wackiest storylines, giving it a depth that is rarely seen onscreen. These women were telling their stories — the romances and heartbreaks, the births and deaths, the celebrations and tragedies, the friendships and rivalries, the extraordinary and the mundane.

It was this continued commitment to universal themes, told through characters so realistically drawn, in a story based almost entirely on magical realism, that made Jane a truly unparalleled and phenomenal achievement.

I’ve long said that Jane, Xiomara, and Alba are our Rory, Lorelai, and Emily. I never knew how much I wanted a Latina Gilmore Girls until Jane gave me exactly that and more. And just like Gilmore Girls, the world of the Villanuevas is enriched with equally dynamic characters — from Rogelio, Rafael, Petra, and Michael to Luisa, Rose, Lina, and of course, Mateo.

Jane is a show where every character gets to be the hero of their own story. I can’t put into words how remarkable that is to see in a cast of mainly people of color.

Each character’s journey is treated with such care and compassion and humor. Journeys so complex and sometimes so completely nonsensical (evil twins! amnesia!), they could only be from a telenovela. And yet, you somehow never lose sight of the realness of each character’s emotions, the depth of their genuine intensity.

Over five seasons, Jane has given me so much. An opportunity to see myself on screen. A family so similar to mine that I can visit with the click of a button when I’m too far from my own. A blueprint to how I want to live my life, confidently marching forward with my support system around me, and as part of the support system to those I love.

To live with joy, hope, faith, friendship, strength… and of course, romance.

After all, this is a telenovela…

Friends, when Daniela Andreina Vasquez Hernandez was 27 years old, she had to face the unthinkable. It was the series finale of Jane the Virgin, and our Daniela was living in New York by herself when the final credits rolled on the screen. Yes our Daniela never loved endings. Especially show endings. Especially shows with characters that had become family.

However, it should be noted that at this very moment, Daniela’s passions included family, quesadillas, reading, and knowing that, though this journey had come to an end, the Villanuevas would always be waiting on their front porch swing to welcome her back home.

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