So, after being bombarded with ads for it all summer on the CW, I watched the premiere of Jane the Virgin last night. It fit nicely into my viewing schedule between Gotham and Castle (which interrupts my Blacklist viewing, but thankfully NBC lets me watch that online).
If you’ve seen the previews you know that Jane promised her Abuela to keep her virginity as a gift to her husband in marriage after a stern talk Abuela gives her as a child. Jane keeps her vow despite being in a two year relationship with Michael. Jane becomes inseminated accidentally and now finds herself pregnant.
That’s the overview. The show is much more complicated than that. Jane loves Michael who is a police detective. Jane also takes her vow very seriously as well as the “timeline” she and Michael have set out. She is working full time as a waitress at a resort to pay for her education, she plans on being a teacher. She want to marry Michael after establishing a career and paying down her debt.
Jane goes into the doctor for a routine pap smear. Now, this is where a lot of the internet blew up about “why does she need a pap smear when she’s not having sex!” Getting regular pap smears are an important part of female health whether married, single, sexually active or not and even menopausal. Jane was just being a good steward of the temple God gave her. Anyway, Jane’s regular doctor is out so her partner sees Jane. Her partner who is emotionally distraught over her personal life. So emotionally distraught that instead of a pap smear, she inseminates Jane with a sample intended for a different patient.
And it gets more complicated from there. Jane’s pregnancy is discovered when she passes out after standing up on a bus to give her seat to some nuns and she is rushed to the hospital. Jane is distraught. The news of this pregnancy is not welcome for many reasons, not least of which is the way it occurred.
Jane is not full of prolife resolve despite the fact that her mother, Xiomara, gave birth to her as a sixteen-year-old without the help or support of Jane’s father. She accepts the prescription for an abortion drug given to her by the OB-GYN who inseminated her in error. Jane admits readily, she’s not ready to be a mother. She doesn’t want to be a mother yet, not this way, which is why she wasn’t having sex to begin with.
Jane goes through a range of feelings about the pregnancy. Particularly when Michael proposes and she has to tell him she’s pregnant instead of “yes.” Michael confronts Jane and tells her he won’t raise a child that is not his biologically making her life infinitely more complicated. Jane confronts Xiomara about why Xiomara chose to have her. Jane has grown up believing that Xiomara wanted an abortion, and Abuela forced her to have the baby. But when Abuela finds the abortion drug in Jane’s room and confronts her, Jane finds out it wasn’t the truth. Abuela wanted Xiomara to abort the baby, Xiomara refused and then lied to Jane to protect her and Abuela.
Jane’s pregnancy brings out a series of revelations both about her life and her feelings on motherhood. It forces her to be brave, something she never expected. Yes, Jane decides to have her baby, but it is even more complicated than just giving birth.
I’m going to leave out some major plot elements, including the number one reason Jane decides to give birth. Because I don’t want to give it away and because I want people to watch it. Jane had a plan. Jane stuck to her plan but sometimes, life has surprises. While God is not explicitly mentioned, Xiomara does being praying a Hail Mary when the doctor at the hospital tells Jane she’s pregnant. Not to mention Michael’s initial rejection of Jane and the baby is turned around rather magnificently. Jane begins to realize that plans beyond her own are at work here. Jane matures even in the course of one episode from someone who lives only for herself, to someone who realizes she others who depend on her to. Her mother, Abuela, Michael, her unborn child and the child’s father…who she does meet in the episode.
Jane’s decision to give birth to her child was not easy, it was agonizing and in light of various complications I’ve left out here, won’t be getting easier as time goes on. What Jane faces is what many young women who find themselves in unexpected pregnancies (although through more conventional means for the most part) face. While Jane does not have to face the consequences of actions she herself set into motion, she still has to deal with the very real consequences her pregnancy brings on. And there are a lot of those.
Motherhood is never an easy thing, and it is especially difficult for many who find it thrust upon them, whatever the circumstances. Jane The Virgin promises to take us to place where we understand some of the real difficulties women face in unplanned pregnancies. And to understand why many may make the choices they do (that doesn’t mean we have to or get to agree with any or all of those choices). Like Juno, Jane has love and support, but Jane takes things one step further is showing us a more mature decision making process.
Will I tune in next week? You bet I will. Because besides the realism, the show is exceptionally written and brilliantly acted. And there is nothing else quite like it on television today.