Jane The Virgin Series Premiere Review: “Chapter One” (Season 1, Episode 1)



Jane the Virgin was perfect for what it was. If you tuned in tonight hoping for a spectacular mind-bending mystery series, then you would have been sorely disappointed. But, if you were looking for some good old drama with a comedic spin, you probably walked away pretty satisfied.

The CW brought viewers a naughty dramedy in the same vein as ABC Family’s recent hit show Young & Hungry, with an even more outrageous storyline. This show is heavy on the sexual references, but is not without a heaping helping of morale at the core. If anything, Jane the Virgin pushes the envelope for what fans of the network have come to expect. It’s not that The CW has made its mark by being prudes, but Jane the Virgin is a little more in your face than most of their other offerings. Arguably, there’s something racy in everyone of their shows at some point or another, but it’s always placed more on the sidelines than actually being the main event.

Jane the Virgin is a predictably hilarious new series about a young woman whose very detailed life plan gets thrown off kilter when she is accidentally artificially inseminated during a routine pap smear. Although the premise is a bit hard to swallow, the result is a show with equal parts humor and emotion doused in plenty of drama. Starring as Jane is the lesser known Gina Rodriguez, who absolutely embodies this character with all the over-the-top exuberance that is necessary to pull off a role as unlikely as this.

Rodriguez engages you right from the moment she flops into the pool in full mermaid garb to avoid making eye contact with a former crush. That same crush, Rafael (Justin Baldoni), turns out to not only be the owner of the hotel she works at, but the father of the baby she finds out later that she’s carrying. And the ironies don’t stop there. This is also his only chance at having a child (side effect of cancer). Talk about a big decision being thrust on you (minus actual thrusting).

The entire pilot episode, “Chapter One,” is full of moments that one-up the previous. Lucky for viewers, there’s a convenient voiceover keeping everything in an explainable order. The presumably Latino voice is reminiscent of the telenovela that Jane the Virgin is based upon. It adds a bit of contextualization without taking viewers too far out of the narrative. Although it serves a purpose in establishing the story and paying homage to the show’s roots, it’s probably something that the series could live without going forward. Toward the end it became a little more distracting than kitschy.

Jane’s situation is complicated by a number of other factors that the show just starts to flesh out in the first episode. There are hints at several storylines that will weave in and out of the main one over the course of the season. The most interesting one being how this pregnancy will effect her new engagement. Despite her heartfelt proposal at the police precinct, Jane seems to have a lot more chemistry with Rafael than her fiance, Michael (Brett Dier). If you’re trying to figure out why the latter looked so familiar, it’s probably from his stint on the short-lived series, Ravenswood (the Pretty Little Liars spin-off).

Another interesting storyline that was hinted at would be the arrival of the father that Jane never knew (and still doesn’t). Considering her affinity for his portrayal of a paternal heartthrob on her favorite telenovela, her shock will probably be monumental. That is, if anything can shock her after her recent obstetrical surprise. But still, it will pose a unique curveball when it comes to the relationship she has with her mother, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) and her grandmother.

Overall, I think The CW scored big with Jane the Virgin, adding some much needed comedy to an action and drama heavy line-up. The show’s got a lot of promise, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how it progresses from here.