Gina Rodriguez’s Golden Globe win for Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy this past Sunday was historic. Not only in the way that may start smashing some race barriers (she is not the first Latina to win, but the list isn’t exactly long), but also in the way that might shine a little light on a network that gets largely overlooked at these things. Gina plays the titular character on the CW’s new show Jane the Virgin. Her win over heavyweight contenders like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Edie Falco was clearly a complete surprise to everyone involved, considering how far away from the stage she and her cast members were seated. Hopefully it’s a surprise that turns more people on to the fantastic fun that is Jane the Virgin.
The premise of Jane the Virgin sounds completely ridiculous: a girl who has never had sex before goes in for a routine gynecological exam and ends up pregnant. It sounds ridiculous because it is. It is totally and utterly ridiculous, and I love every ridiculous second of it. To think, I originally scoffed at this show because of how silly it sounded, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s silly because it’s supposed to be. Told in the style of a telenovela (such as Juana la Virgen, the Venezuelan telenovela on which the show is loosely based), the madcap hijinks in Jane’s life are detailed by an omniscient narrator with a sense of humor. Jane is a writer, so each episode is a chapter in her life, filled with familiar tropes like the gold-digging wife, the super Catholic grandmother, and people who are arguing then get stuck in an elevator (coming up in the next episode).
This show is fun, with a cast that clearly realizes the whole thing is insane and just runs with it. From Rogelio, Jane’s over dramatic telenovela star of a father, to Petra, the scheming soon-to-be ex-wife of Jane’s accidental baby daddy, the characters are fabulous, but none more so than Jane herself. Jane is perhaps the one sane person in an island of crazy, and the grace with which she deals with suffering the consequences of sex without having actually had sex is astounding. I guarantee you, I wouldn’t be quite so calm were I in the same situation. By the end of the second episode (if not the first), it should be perfectly clear why Gina won the Golden Globe.
Gina takes Jane through a full range of emotions during the show’s first nine episodes — from a flashback showing her hammered at her 21st birthday to breaking down in her mother’s arms at the knowledge that she is going to get attached to the baby only to give it up. In a culture that seems to equate “strong female character” with physical strength (not that there’s anything wrong with that), Jane is a character we need like no other. As the most normal in an increasingly outrageous group, Jane is level-headed, emotional, confident, insecure, and just trying to find her place in the world in spite of all the crap life keeps throwing at her. In short, she is a woman, just like the rest of us.
The CW tends to get ignored at awards shows (except for fan-voted ones like the People’s Choice Awards, at which Supernatural‘s Misha Collins won this year). There are probably a lot of reasons why, but I’m sure most people take one look at the network’s lineup and think “soapy dramas aimed at teenagers” and dismiss some real quality shows and award-worthy performances. We can only hope that Gina’s win will make people stop and think before automatically writing off a show simply because of the network on which it airs.
Jane the Virgin airs Monday nights at 9pm on the CW. All-new episodes return January 19.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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