Unexpected pregnancies can really make life chaotic—especially when you’ve never even had sex.
Jane Villanueva knows the feeling. One day she’s just a normal young adult—waitress, college student, wannabe writer—the next she’s been artificially inseminated by a doctor who got her procedures mixed up.
It’s a pickle for sure, especially because she and her fiancé, Michael, were waiting for sex until after their wedding day, and weren’t planning to have kids for years after that.
The baby’s father, Rafael, seems nice enough—until you Google the guy and discover that he makes 2014 Justin Bieber look as innocent as 2007 Justin Bieber. (Oh, and he and Jane once swapped a smooch. Sorry, Michael.) Petra, the baby’s intended mother, is having an affair with Rafael’s best friend, Roman Zazo. Or, rather, was, until Zazo gets impaled on a pointy ice sculpture. (Also, Michael was investigating Zazo because of his connections to a drug lord who hasn’t been seen for a few years.) Dr. Luisa Alver, the woman who accidentally knocked Jane up, also happens to be Rafael’s sister. Have I mentioned yet that Luisa is having an affair with her own stepmother?
If that all sounds a little like a bad telenovela, well, that’s the point. Jane the Virgin, CW’s clever and problematic comedy, is riffing on the outlandish Spanish-language programming that Jane’s own grandmother dearly loves. (Naturally, Jane’s father is a self-absorbed telenovela star himself.) This is a world in which someone’s always seeming to find a long-lost rich and snobby cousin or nefarious great uncle with an eye patch.
It’s silly and salacious, and the show is proud of that. Characters jump in and out of bed with one another like spring-loaded teddy bears. Most everyone except for Jane has horrific secrets they’re just dying to share with us. Dire news and dreadful death lurks around every corner.
And yet Jane the Virgin, like its titular character, is sweet and well-meaning and oddly pure.
Perhaps pure isn’t the right word. The show, obviously, isn’t shy about its negative content issues. But there’s a certain winsomeness that clings to it despite all those problems, and we owe a lot of that to Jane herself. Here is a character who kept her virginity because of her own personal values. She’s not socially inept. She’s not a prude. She’s certainly not immune to sexual temptation. (Something we see a little too much of, actually.) She’s witty and charming and refreshingly normal—three characteristics you rarely see connected with virgin in movies or television.
Jane also allows for God’s name to be used more often as a petition than a swear word. “[God] has a plan,” Jane’s grandmother, Alba, tells her. “I truly believe that. But it better be good.” Jane’s choosing to keep her baby alive, too, just like she chose to keep her virginity. And while people sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) make mistakes, many really are trying to do what’s right here—not for just themselves, but for others as well.
As for the CW’s long-range plans for this show, though—like how many people we’ll see sleep together, how many will mysteriously die in freakish soda can accidents, how many will wind up being gold-mine-owning long-lost great aunts of Jane once removed—that may be an even bigger mystery than God’s plan for Jane.
Jane asks her fiancé and family to refer to the fetus as a “milkshake,” emphasizing that it’s a momentary inconvenience, to be carried and passed on. But when she see the sonogram images and hears the heartbeat, she realizes there’s more to it than that.
“I just didn’t want it to take over my life and change everything,” she sobs to her mother, “but it’s going to because it’s not a stupid milkshake. It’s a baby.”
We see some revealing selfies. Jane’s mom, Xiomara (called Xo), and her former lover (Jane’s father) Rogelio are discovered in bed together. In flashback, she performs a lewd dance to the tune “Milkshake,” thrusting her pelvis and showing cleavage during Jane’s Quinceañera. (She’s doing it to help Jane in a roundabout way, but still.) Luisa and her lesbian lover/stepmother, Rose, passionately make out. It’s implied that Petra has sex with Zazo. (We see stills of them kissing and caressing, undressed but mostly covered up.) There’s a bit of a suggestion of violence in their relationship, and Zazo is later found impaled by an ice sculpture, a blood-tainted ice stalagmite sticking through his chest.
An unopened bottle of vodka sits in front of recovering alcoholic Luisa. Drinks are served at a party. There are pictures of Rafael being kicked out of bars. We hear “d–n” three times and “freakin'” four, along with several misuses of God’s name. Rafael and Petra talk divorce. There’s a reference to tarot cards.