What Jane the Virgin Taught Me About Strong Female Relationships

Warning: Spoilers ahead, you may want to finish the show before you read.

 

Jane the Virgin is a romantic dramedy that follows the story of Jane Villanueva, a 23-year-old Latina who is committed to staying a virgin until marriage - until her life plan gets drastically thrown off-course when her gynecologist accidentally artificially inseminates her. I know, crazy right? While the series satirically pays tribute to Latin telenovelas, it also carries a lot of meaningful storylines and characters that you can’t help but grow attached to. 

 

As the daughter of a single mother, Jane wanted to be sure that she did things differently, which is why she made sure to always have a plan for her life. Though Jane and her mother, Xiomara had always been close, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Jane often acted the part of the responsible “adult” in the relationship, even when she was a child. There is so much depth that I could go into detail about between Jane and Xo, but in the interest of keeping this story somewhat short, I’ll just touch on how their relationship evolved. 

 

The juxtaposition often shown with how Jane and her mother dealt with both internal and external issues is something that I think many people can relate to with their own mothers/daughters because let’s face it, it’s a relationship where the two parties don’t always see eye-to-eye. However, the struggles that the pair faced throughout the five seasons only strengthened the bond that they had, and Jane’s predicament gave her a whole new perspective on the bravery and strength that Xo had to have to raise a child on her own. Through their journey, Jane and Xo maintained a mutual respect for each other and made sure that no matter their differences, they always showed up for each other - because that’s what family does.

 

Perhaps one of my favorite story arcs is that of Jane and Petra’s relationship. Though at first Petra’s role was that of Jane’s boss’s cold and cruel wife, she later grew into a much deeper character. Jane and Petra are both strong women - in completely opposite ways, and two characters that no doubt had a lot of differences - making pitting them against each other easy. They may never fully understand each other, however, I think that they made exceptional progress and did the best they could  in their journey as parents in each other’s children’s lives. After all, it’s not like there are Mommy & Me groups for women who share the same baby daddy and were both artificially inseminated (willingly or otherwise). The fact that season five brings them together as metaphorical ‘sisters’ after everything they’ve been through is one of the most touching things to see. Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely more than one instance where I bet against Petra because of her often villainous qualities, but she won me over in the end.

 

However, I couldn’t write this article without talking about Petra and JR. Petra bisexual? Best plot twist ever! Of course, they’re not the only pair of lesbian lovers on the show, but I’d rather not talk about Rose and Luisa considering how that ended. Petra, through all her shortcomings, deserves love too and I’m so happy she finally found it. It was especially nice to see how Petra’s relationship with JR forced her to confront her habit of lying and manipulation and, in the end, made her a better person because of it. Plus, it was a relationship that really kept the viewer guessing until the very end and wasn’t just handed to us in a pretty little package as love stories so often are.

 

 

Photo from YouTube

 

If I were to give out an award for the most growth seen in a character, it would definitely go to Alba Villanueva, Jane’s abuela. This is a woman who essentially traumatized Jane with her flower-virginity metaphor in order to instill her own religious views. But at the same time, Alba’s journey and the underlying storyline following her path to citizenship acts as a powerful commentary on the immigration situation in the United States. Not only did Alba leave behind her family and country in order to raise Xiomara in the United States, but she did so mostly on her own after being left a widow. I’m so glad that after struggling with her mother’s expectations, in the end Xo realized what kind of sacrifices Alba made for her - and on the flip side, that Alba realized the kind of weight that Xo felt having to “make something of herself” as children of immigrants often do. Alba is proof that you’re never too old to fall in love, and her relationship with Jorge carried her away from her restrictive catholic morals and transformed her into a more liberated woman. And let’s not forget the fact that the word “vibrator” actually came out of Alba’s mouth as a piece of advice to Xo, that’s truly something I never saw coming (and neither did Jane or Xo). A round of applause for Alba, please. 

 

Lastly, let’s talk about the porch swing. It quickly became a symbol of the Villanueva women, and was lovingly given the nickname “the crying swing” by the cast. The swing, and I would even extend that to Alba’s entire porch, is such an important piece of the show that even the cast admitted some of the more emotional scenes would not have been the same if they had taken place in the living room instead. Every story has its iconic piece, and I would definitely say that the swing is that piece for this show. I would even go as far as to argue that the way it holds up the Villanueva women and supports them during their times of need is a parallel for how they support each other. There was nothing those women couldn’t conquer after a swing scene.

 

Photo from The New York Times 

 

Throughout the show’s run, the Villanueva women have been through it all - single motherhood, widowhood, cancer, anxiety, illegal immigration, co-parenting, blended families, and women’s equality. They faced it, cried about it, and conquered it. It’s as real as that. I think at some point every girl out there has panicked when her period is a day or two late - even the ones that have absolutely no reason to fear. Hopefully we can all rest easy knowing that what happened to Jane will probably never happen to us. But hey, it made for a hell of a story.