We've all been there — standing at the dock, missing the boat for the latest brand-new hit show that everyone else seemed to catch in its early stages. How come no one ever gave us a heads up? Why didn't we see Breaking Bad coming or The Good Wife's unexpectedly solid character development from the get-go? Us Weekly's here to help you avoid TV FOMO this season by introducing you to The CW's unexpected success Jane the Virgin. Chances are you aren't watching it, but that's all about to change.
If you go by premise alone — a comedy based off a Venezuelan telenovela in which a virgin (Gina Rodriguez) accidentally gets artificially inseminated with the sperm of a boy she once had a crush on— Jane the Virgin sounds like another painfully conceived pilot, doomed for the ratings basement and an early cancellation (along with the majority of NBC's new pilots). In an unanticipated twist (not unlike the ones Jane experiences in the series), the dramedy turns out to be brilliant — a show the likes of which the network, and arguably network television in general, is experiencing for the very first time.
Still a virgin to Jane the Virgin? You're not alone. Luckily, only three episodes have aired (and they’re all online), with the fourth episode premiering on Monday, Nov. 3 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. Here's why you should be watching:
1. It's bringing telenovelas to a brand new audience.
TV has been hinting at telenovelas for years — Modern Family had a cheeky episode in which Gloria (Sofia Vergara) throws Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) right in the middle of one while they are looking to adopt a Hispanic baby. But the actual genre tends to be reserved for those fluent in Spanish. Now this previously unexplored genre has been made available to a brand-new audience. Not only do Jane and her family watch telenovelas, but it becomes clear from the moment the strip turns pink that she is living in one herself. All the ridiculous twists and unlikely connections (not to mention that Jane’s secret father IS a telenovela star) suddenly make hilarious sense. There's no corny lighting or ominous music like in a soap opera. This telenovela is flashy, funny, and has an extra helping of heart.
2. It's doing more for small screen diversity than most shows on the air.
Depicting a minority group that often lacks a clear voice has become an ongoing trend in television lately. ABC's new comedy Black-ish highlights the African American Johnson family's struggles to find their own cultural voice in a predominantly white neighborhood and professional environment. But unlike Black-ish, Jane the Virgin showcases the Latina Villanueva family, and though the family's heritage and upbringing is present in all things, it does not dictate the story. Similar to how Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes is praised for casually featuring diversity, Jane manages to blend its culturally rich backdrop into a juicy storyline.
3. It makes the “R” word less scary.
Religion tends to get polarized on TV. Either you’re a conservative extremist — banned from dancing at prom or kissing until your wedding — or you’re liberal and elitist. Jane the Virgin finds the happy medium, where God and faith are extremely important to Jane and her abuela, but that fact doesn’t then encourage them to proselytize to others. Jane’s mother, who loves chasing boys and got pregnant at 16, provides a much-needed counterpoint to the grandmother’s strict religious upbringing, encouraging Jane to have sex with someone she loves when she feels the time is right. It’s a dose of religion that even extreme atheists won’t find obnoxious, coupled with a main character who hates the idea of even lying to God or those she loves. There’s still plenty of the sex, lies, and drama that make television great, but this time there’s a moral compass at the center that won’t make you roll your eyes.
Tell Us: Are you a fan of Jane the Virgin?
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