An AV Club commenter has recently taken to keeping a running tally: number of “Jane the Virgin” (2014-present) episodes to date and number of bad or average episodes. Given that one of these numbers hasn’t budged past zero, I’m clearly not the only one who thinks this plucky, earnest CW standout has the best writers on television right now. The show is all at once a modern-day immaculate conception, a drug kingpin investigation, a family drama, a riff on telenovela — and the deftness with which the writers balance so many genres defies description.
Holding it all together are the show’s meta-elements, particularly the so-called Latin Lover Narrator (voiced by Anthony Mendez). Part-omniscient, part real-time observer, his voice guides us through exposition and big reveals alike. It’s only fitting that he take us through a “Jane” writers highlights reel of sorts.
1. “Hurry up, Petra! Wait, why am I rooting for her?”
Never could I have predicted that I’d develop such a soft spot for Petra (Yael Grobglas). The ostensible villain of the first few episodes, Petra is just one example of how the writers’ deep love and understanding for these characters enables them to build larger-than-life personalities without veering into the realm of irredeemable caricature. The writers guide them through all manner of situations at the show’s trademark breakneck pace without losing sight of who they are for an instant.
2. “You guessed it! That did not happen.”
Jane’s (Gina Rodriguez) personal and professional life both concern the interplay of fantasy and reality. It’s no surprise that her surprise pregnancy inspires her to contemplate a range of hypotheticals concerning women and motherhood. I love that the writers indulge her imagination; though it’s sometimes why this show shoots double the number of scenes typical for an hourlong episode, each “what-if” scenario is brilliant.
3. “Jane was a virgin, but not a saint.”
Gina “I can and I did” Rodriguez deserves an honorable mention here — it is impossible not to be charmed by Jane’s goodness from the get-go and, regardless of your own personal feelings, understand why she promised her abuela (Ivonne Coll) she wouldn’t have sex before marriage. Yet we get to see her constantly re-evaluating and establishing the boundaries of this choice — what if she’s found The One? What if there is no ‘One’ she should wait for? What if she just really, really wants to? The writers don’t assert any moral authority in Jane’s ongoing conversations with herself; at the end of the day, we are all, a la Rogelio (Jaime Camil), #TeamJane. Whatever she decides, Jane is so much more than her virginity — they’ve made sure to show us that — and so we’re just rooting for her to be happy.
“Jane the Virgin” is an honest-to-god national treasure. If you’re going to catch up, I implore you not to binge — writing this good, crafted in self-contained installments of excellence, deserves some savoring.
Hidden Gem: Marrying mile-a-minute millennial wit with a true flair for the absurd, the chyrons make this a show you can’t watch distracted.
Selectively Forget: Our Narrator, in “Chapter Ten,” foreshadowed Michael’s (Brett Dier) potential demise. Nope.