It started out with despair. After watching what seemed like most of the newly-released TV hits on Netflix, and with the removal of some standard feel-goods, I was desperately seeking a new series fix. I clicked on Jane the Virgin randomly and did not have high hopes. At first glance, it seemed like a bit of a chick-flick yet I soon discovered that in between the romance and Jane’s dreamy persona are crime lords, suspense and family bonds. But let’s take it from the top.
In the 2014 American TV series, Jane Villanueva falls pregnant even though she is a virgin. How? A standard check-up at the doctor’s results in Jane getting artificially inseminated by accident. Try explaining that to your ultra-Catholic Latina grandmother. And to make matters worse, the biological donor is her hunk boss and former crush who is married to a dynamic blonde, Petra. Sounds messy. Jane the Virgin is a take on Latin telenovelas with heaps of magic realism and unrealistic scenarios yet somehow it manages to pull it off. And for five seasons!
As we follow Jane and her family’s adventures, from finding love in your 80s to achieving dreams and rescuing your baby from drug kings, the series is captivating. Perhaps it is the friendly narrator that begins each episode by addressing the viewers and for the whole five seasons leads the story. Or how connected each scene is within the episodes. Nothing is shown at random and the narrator makes sure viewers remember this.
Without realising it, I connected to the strong family ties the show depicts, something prominent in Cyprus as well. Though numerous elements felt over the top, the show reminds us that it is a satirical telenovela and yet I found myself deeply moved with each plot twist.
Loosely adapted from the Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, the American version is sweet, funny and emotional, and filmed creatively. Episode four of season 3 shows how when the title of the series then changes with each episode mirroring the storyline. Spoiler alert: she does not stay a virgin.