I started watching Jane the Virgin after Gina Rodriguez won a Golden Globe for her performance in the show in 2015. Her speech - the one where she shared the motto her dad would make her recite every morning, “today is a new day, I can and I will” - made me tear up. You know, like the way those Olympian mom commercials do? I felt so happy for a person I knew nothing about, but she just seemed like a special human being. That’s the charm of Gina Rodriguez; what makes her the kind of celebrity you feel proud to be a fan of.
While the similarities between Rodriguez’s own life and that of her character’s life are obvious (both are intelligent, hard working Latina women), to say that she is playing another version of herself would be to undermine her performance as Jane. She manages to be one of the show’s most grounded characters all the while being the vehicle of one of its most telenovela-esque events: its catalyst.
It’s Jane’s full hearted embrace of and investment in her loved ones and her personal aspirations that keeps the show’s crazy subplots from getting stale. I think that’s what makes it relatable. We often find Jane trying so hard to be the best version of herself that it leads her to having too much on her plate, to having to face failure when it’s the thing she is trying the hardest to avoid.
Michael’s death was a catalyst to the show exploring a new era of Jane’s personal life as it was the first time that she wasn’t in a romantic relationship. Those final moments of “Chapter Fifty-Four” were a turning point in the show’s trajectory. It’s like the formula of Jane the Virgin is when everything is going too well, mess it up. Which, coincidentally, sounds a lot like life. If only we could have personal narrators like the one in the show.
Amidst all of this, however, are some of the most profound moments of growth in Jane’s life. We learn about the anxiety that she has been experiencing for the past three years and her mantra to cope with it. “Inhala, exhala.” We watch her dive back into the dating pool. We see her get her first novel published (!). We cry when she reminisces about her and Michael’s first date - and when Rogelio talks about how much he misses Michael too.
Every major curveball that gets thrown at Jane is a force that pushes the show forward. Last season’s time jump brought an unexpected and refreshing twist to all of the characters’ stories. I especially love the attention the show puts towards Alba’s personal life and how the blossoming of her new relationship was parallel to Jane embracing her singledom. Jane the Virgin seamlessly weaves in and out of two worlds - the normal life of the Villanueva household and the dramatics of the Marbella Hotel and its owners - that since episode one, are going to be forever intertwined. The former grounds the latter and the latter brings the former some unexpected flavor and humor. Jane the Virgin has something for everyone.