Jun 4, 2015

[TV] Jane the Virgin: Season 1

Tobie has a thing for romantic comedies for one reason or another. I'm not exactly against them, but they're not the sort of entertainment that I'd go out of my way to find. But I can appreciate a good amount of camp and few shows or movies manage to capture the essence of this in a great way.

Now to be fair, Jane the Virgin isn't exactly what I would call "mainstream camp" but there's a certain degree of campiness to it still. If anything, it's the sort of camp that's born of appreciating just how ridiculous many telenovelas can be given how they structure their plot lines and the sorts of twists that they writers throw into the mix year after year.

But this show was certainly something different and it was far from the sort of entertainment that I tend to get into. But I have to admit that after a crazy day at work, there are few things that really hit the spot like a crazy campy episode of this show. And you can tell that the writers included the sort of humor that shows what fun can be had when you're prepared to laugh at your own quirks, especially those quirks that you chose to make a part of you.

Synopsis: Jane the Virgin is a CW comedy drama series developed for US television by Jennie Snyder Urman. The show is loosely based on the Valenzuelan telenovela, Juana la Virgen created by Pela Farias.

The centers around Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) a hard-working, obedient and quite religious young woman who is accidentally inseminated during what should have been a routine pap smear. She had been raised to be quite religious by her family, particularly her grandmother Alba (Ivonne Coll) and thus the prospects of her being pregnant end up being quite the surprise. And while she is engaged to police detective Michael Cordero (Brett Dier), they have never slept together in line with Jane's religious beliefs.

But one things leads to another and things become more and more complex in Jane's life. First, the biological donor that provided the accidental sperm is in fact Rafael (Justin Baldoni), owner of the hotel where Jane works and apparently someone she had an intense emotional connection with many years ago. Then we have the discovery that Jane's long lost father is actually telenovela star Rogelio dela Vega (Jaime Camil), and it seems that their paths may finally cross as father and daughter. And there's the little matter of the infamous criminal Sin Rostro, who has never been identified clearly but is suspected to be operating in the same Miami area as the hotel where Jane works. How everything comes together is what makes this show so crazy.

The show moves at a frenetic pace that tries to emulate the tendency in telenovelas to introduce new plot twists and other bits of craziness over and over again. But at the same time they also try to resolve those little twists quite quickly, usually within the span of 2-3 episodes. And in a season that lasted a good 22 episodes, that means there were a lot of crazy twists and turns within that limited period of time.

And I love how the plot threads are so diverse in terms of subject and range. In the beginning it was mostly about the relationships around Jane, thus the revelation about Rogelio being her biological father. But then things just became stranger and stranger with the whole plot about Sin Rostro taking center stage but still in a manner that totally made sense for the show. And being able to manage so many different story lines at a pace that seems a lot faster than how soap operas and telenovelas take such matters did make things particularly remarkable.

Gina Rodriguez is an amazing young actress and she performs quite brilliantly as Jane. A lot of the show's humor weighs upon her shoulders and she she delivers it time and time again. The show would never be quite the same without her and someone ought to give the casting director a raise for helping to get her slated for the role.

This is not to to say that the rest of the cast isn't equally entertaining. Everyone adds something interesting to the show that continues to build with every new story. A lot of the primary cast all have their time in the spotlight for better or for worse but at least they get to celebrate their uniqueness. And more importantly they all get to add to the larger story and keep things moving forward.

And everything is brought together by the dramatic narrator, as voiced by Anthony Mendez. I mean seriously, what true telenovela is complete with a proper voice over narrator, right? And thus the show not only has its own sense of dramatic comedy, but it also celebrates the quirks of telenovelas and how they're structured and the results are quite hilarious.

Jane the Virgin is probably one of the few CW shows that I love this much. And we're made all the better for its unique and very fresh sense of humor. Thus the show gets 5 surprise twists in the writing out of a possible 5.

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