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Culture > Entertainment

Why the telenovela Jane The Virgin is a must-watch

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Waterloo chapter.

There is a reason Jane The Virgin was a definite hit on the CW. Jane the Virgin tells the story of Jane, a young devout catholic who works as a waitress in a hotel in Miami. Her life turns unexpectedly, when her doctor (Dr. Luisa Alver) mistakenly inseminates her during her checkup, leaving Jane a pregnant virgin. Rafael Solano, a wealthy hotel owner and a past admirer of Jane’s, comes out to be the baby’s father. Jane’s life is complex and full of drama due to the pregnancy, which also affects her complicated relationship with Rafael, her mother, Xiomara, and her connection with her traditional and devout Catholic grandmother Alba. As the series goes on, Jane struggles to balance her personal and professional lives as she adjusts to her new roles as a mother and a writer. Along the way, she encounters various issues, such as monetary hardships, romantic strife in a love triangle, and the difficulty of being a first-time mother.

The show offers a unique and refreshing take on the traditional telenovela genre in a heartfelt and unique way. Here is why Jane The Virgin is by far my favourite tv show and why everyone should also watch it:

  1. Cultural representation

Jane The Virgin is unique because even though it transforms reality to keep it a telenovela style with crazy twists like long lost siblings, evil twins, characters returning from the dead, and many more soap opera plots, it still showcases real-life themes relevant in our world. It features the Villanuevas, a Venezuelan-American family that immigrated to the U.S. for a better life. We get to follow the journey of Alba, the grandma who immigrated illegally to the U.S. with her husband. She was escaping persecution from her family back in Venezuela because her sister exposed that she was not a virgin, which was considered shocking at the time. Alba faces the challenges of living in the U.S. without any papers but is forced to do so in order to provide a better life for her family. 

This is significant for two reasons: those who have had their families immigrate due to issues in their home country can relate and feel acknowledged; it showcases a common debate in the U.S. regarding the new immigration law “ICE,” which has the so-called “mission to protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety.” Yet, the enforcement methods used by ICE also come with significant social consequences, such as breaking families apart by deporting members who do not have proper documentation and weakening public confidence in law enforcement. They only serve as evidence of the long history of anti-Hispanic prejudice in the United States. This is unfair because most of the time, the immigrants that come illegally to the country are just looking for a safe place to prosper and provide a future for their families. They are people left with no choice but to put themselves in danger and pass the border in the hope of a better life, but unfortunately, they are perceived as criminals that should not enter the country for the sake of its “safety.” As we see in Jane the Virgin, Alba is constantly afraid because the government does not provide her with a safe space. 

2. Female empowerment

Jane the Virgin, unlike any other tv show, empowers women and notably women of color. With the lack of any father figure, Jane was raised by her single mother and grandmother. This dynamic provides the perfect opportunity for strong and independent female characters to arise. We see the mother and grandmother’s struggles to provide Jane with a promising future. And truly, Jane is a hardworking, determined, and intelligent woman. Through the show’s plot and the female characters, Jane the Virgin introduces a new take on what it means to be a single woman/mother paving their path without the help of a man, which is unfortunately still taboo in many parts of the world. Another time we see female empowerment is through Xiomara, who became pregnant with Jane at the age of sixteen. Xiomara’s boyfriend insisted she not have the baby when she informed him of the news. Xiomara, however, opted to take charge of her body and defy a man’s view even when she was sixteen. She chose to have Jane even though it meant Jane’s father would be completely absent from the picture. 

Thus, this woman-only dynamic provides great role models for young girls to look up to. The firm, independent woman who does not need any man like society tells her. The tv show proves what we all know, that women are in control of their bodies and decisions, and no man can control them and tell them what to do. When watching Jane the Virgin, women of all ages can feel more empowered and confident in their abilities to succeed independently. Not to mention that it is essential for boys to watch it, too, so they can grow up as feminists and learn to better respect women.

3. Religion and Dating

Jane the Virgin also tackles real-life themes like religion and dating. Not many programs deal with faith the way Jane the Virgin did. The show deals with sex in a frank and realistic way while acknowledging the importance of Jane’s Catholic faith and personal values. Jane intends to save herself for marriage, heeding her grandma Alba’s advice that virginity is a “precious flower” that can never be restored once interfered with. Jane ends up being a virgin mother, but she is not technically a saint… However, the show demonstrates that sex is not the primary factor in a relationship. It demonstrates that maintaining one’s virginity for religious (or other) reasons or choosing not to maintain it is perfectly acceptable and does not determine one’s whole worth. She should not be judged for her decisions about her own body. In general, Jane the Virgin urges viewers to reflect on the complexity of these problems and the significance of individual autonomy and agency through its careful and nuanced presentation of “my body, my choice.” Throughout the series, the show depicts various sexual experiences and relationships, from loving and healthy to destructive and dysfunctional. Ultimately, Jane the Virgin presents a mature and nuanced representation of sex and sexuality, and challenges viewers to reflect on their convictions and ideals.

Maryam Awad

Waterloo '27

Hey everyone! I am a sustainability and financial management student at the University of Waterloo with a passion for writing. I love going to the gym, hanging out with my friends and family, exploring new places, and traveling. I am very in touch with my Egyptian background and love sharing it with others. Notably, I love meeting new people from different backgrounds and learning about their cultures and different interests :)