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‘Jane the Virgin’ a Hit Show

| Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jane the Virgin WEBMary McGraw | The Observer
In a world where so many television shows are cancelled in their first season and where new series are few and far between, it isn’t often that you find a new TV show that feels inventive, funny and just a joy to watch. For me this year, that show was none other than The CW Network’s breakout hit, “Jane the Virgin.”

I know, a CW Network show with the word “virgin” in the title looks like a recipe for an overly camp, moralistic, poorly-acted disaster. And, going into watching “Jane the Virgin,” that’s about all I was expecting. Even the premise sounds too farfetched to work: a 23-year-old virgin is accidentally inseminated and becomes – you guessed it – a pregnant virgin. The narrative only gets more complicated when the titular Jane finds out that the father of the baby is the handsome and rich hotel developer that she shared a kiss with five years earlier, and this is his last chance to have children since his recent cancer battle left him infertile and this was his only sperm sample.

The plot seems like something out of an episode of Jerry Springer at worst and the plotline of the world’s most chaste soap opera at best. However, “Jane the Virgin” manages to tow the line between over-the-top and quality comedy due in no small part to the realistic, emotional acting from its stellar cast. In fact, the star of the show, Gina Rodriguez, just won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy (and if you haven’t checked out her moving acceptance speech on YouTube, I suggest you do yourself a favor and do so).

The plot of the show, actually, is based off of a Venezuelan telenovela of the same name, and it pokes fun of that fact quite a bit. Specifically, one character on the show – Jane’s estranged father – turns out to be a famous telanovela star, and his characterization is a conscious parody of the soap opera genre and a great foil to all the realistic acting from the rest of the cast. Where the show could come off as preachy since it is about a woman who has chosen not to have premarital sex, it emphasizes the fact that it’s about a young woman who is true to herself and her beliefs in the face of adversity. Though Jane herself is a virgin, the show is not devoid of sex and many of the supporting characters are involved in steamy affairs and other romantic entanglements. Jane herself offers a realistic portrayal of someone who is waiting for marriage and struggles with her decision periodically throughout the show. In fact one of the show’s greatest asset is that the writers give Jane romantic interests that respect her choice and right to decide when and to whom she will lose her virginity.

The show is not all about Jane’s virginity, however. In fact, it is a credit to the show that this element of the plot – while being respectfully dealt with – is rarely the focal point. Jane’s virginity is by far one of her least-defining qualities. This is really an ensemble production with a rich, lovable cast. It harks back to “Ugly Betty” with its fiercely lovable main character and wonderfully diverse cast, as Jane’s family is Latino and living in Miami. All in all, it is a delight to watch and full of laughter; it’s one of the rare compelling, fun and addictive comedy series on television today, and if you don’t believe me, the New York Times, Slate, the A.V. Club and many more publications have given the show’s premier season rave reviews. “Jane the Virgin” is charismatic, funny, and self-aware – a combination I’d love to watch anytime.

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