Fall TV Spotlight: Jane the Virgin

In anticipation of the 2016 fall television season, NHMC will be showcasing shows that excel in portraying and characterizing their Latino stars. Stay tuned these next few weeks as we feature some of this fall’s most diverse programming, and make sure to watch and support Latino talent on TV — we’ve compiled a list of some of this season’s best, available on the NHMC blog.

It must be noted that Jane the Virgin is unlike virtually anything else on television. It is a show about family, a family of strong single women who represent three generations of the Venezuelan-American immigrant experience. It is a show about romance, in which a young woman deals with pressures regarding relationships, marriage, and sexuality that only someone who lives their lives straddling two different cultures — someone like a third-generation Latina — can entirely understand. It is a show about tradition, about abiding by tradition and breaking tradition and coming to terms with a person’s love and humanity regardless of which path they choose. Jane the Virgin’s got a heart: a warm, hilarious, loving heart deeply in touch with its Latino heritage.

Jane the Virgin explores and celebrates what it is like to be Latino today, what it is like to live within a hybrid culture that redefines what it means to have Latin American ancestry while consolidating it with the expectations that come with growing up in the United States. Media representation like this — a deeply nuanced, strikingly authentic depiction of a Latino family performed with earnest authenticity by an all-star cast including Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Ivonne Coll and Jaime Camil — is rare. It’s actually hard to understand how rare something like Jane is until you see this show on your screen for an hour once a week, and you realize that thousands of people in the United States get to see traces of themselves and their lives on primetime television for what might be the first time ever. That’s so important — Jane the Virgin is so important.

Left to right: Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, Jaime Camil as Rogelio De La Vega, Ivonne Coll as Alba Villanueva, and Andrea Navedo as Xiomara Villanueva.

As a clever, loving satire of the telenovela, Jane is also so good. The initial plot — a young religious Latina woman (the titular Jane) is accidentally artificially inseminated; hijinks ensue — spirals out to include a cast of colorful characters and a series of plot developments that force Jane to reevaluate her definition of a perfect happy ending. Gina Rodriguez is a marvel as Jane Villanueva, who has to navigate what has to be the most absurd two seasons’ worth of baby drama, secret identities and love triangles all while staying anchored by her family — three generations’ worth of Villanueva women (and the recent addition of baby Mateo), who are the real heart of this show.

Jane the Virgin is readying to return this fall for a third season, and its track record promises yet another excellent round of celebrating Latinidad. The dramatic plot twists, the tongue-in-cheek soap opera dialogue, the tantalizing cliffhangers? That just makes it extra fun.


Jane the Virgin returns for its third season on Monday, October 17 on The CW.

Images from here and here.