Jane The Virgin – ‘Humour in a tiny, beating heart’


South American telenovellas make interesting, entertaining, meaningful television shows across genres, and yesterday, I caught a sneak preview of a really interesting miniseries that’s upcoming on Indian television for the first time. (from 5th August at 7 pm on Romedy NOW)

jane_the_virgin_xlgIt’s called Jane The Virgin, and in its very first season, the show got nominated for a Golden Globe best series award, and Gina Rodriguez, who portrays the lead role of Jane, won the award for the Best Actress in a Television series – Musical or Comedy, at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards, which honoured the best of television content produced in 2014.  There were several other wins and nominations, but we’ll get to those in a bit.

Intriguing title, yes, and an equally good concept. What happens when a young, devout woman discovers she has been accidentally, artificially inseminated by her doctor during what should have been a routine checkup? And especially when the girl is sweet, simple and devout, and in spite of being in a relationship with a handsome guy, is ‘saving herself for marriage.’ So Jane, the dear 23-year-old unassuming Latina, who’s also working at a hotel to finance her studies so she can have a life better than her mother’s, is now faced with the prospect of a disapproving boyfriend and a disrupted — even destroyed — educational career, is shattered.

JANE SMALL PIC FOR POSTThe empathy gears shift to fifth already? So, it has all the ingredients of a serious, sombre drama, right? Wrong. The show is an excellent dramatic comedy, or dramedy, if you will.

What makes matters worse for Jane is that, being a kind and sensitive person, she is caught between her love for boyfriend Michael, who has no desire to raise another man’s child, and her sympathy for Rafael, the owner of the sperm sample, whose recent battle with cancer means this is his only chance for a biological child. So — complete quandary! To make matters worse, the biological donor is a married man, a former playboy and cancer survivor who is not only the new owner of the hotel where Jane works, but was also her former teenage crush. Rafael’s wife, ‘man eater’ Petra, too wants the baby – but only to prolong her failing marriage while the pre-nuptial agreement is still in effect, where she would be able to acquire a huge amount of money. Petra, incidentally, is also unfaithful to Rafael; with his best friend, no less.

And this is the exact spot between a rock and a hard place where the sweet and lovely Jane finds herself. And perplexed as she is, she is also torn between the views of her mother Xiomara, and grandmother Alba, who have their own differing opinions about what Jane should do.

this romantic comedy finds humor in a tiny, beating heart – and witnesses the birth of a star with Gina Rodriguez’s wide-eyed performance.

That plotline may sound heavily dramatic, but the treatment is uniquely light-hearted even as it respects the gravitas of the dramatic high points. But hey, ‘gravitas’ doesn’t really belong here – because this heartwarming story moves quickly ahead on a chuckle-a-minute throttle. There is great comic timing, excellent elements of surprise, sweet moments in mother-daughter, grandmother-granddaughter and young-couple relationships and more. It’s a really beautiful intriguing story of this young lady at the biggest crossroads of her life, and how the world around her, depending on the motivation of the well-etched characters, surges to support or thwart her. What shines through this glowing comedy-drama of relationships that say ‘don’t pre-judge’, is the entertaining, comic approach that ranges startlingly from wry and dry to just plain mirthful.

It’s a story that worked in the US because it was about and for the massive Spanish-speaking audiences in the US, and is about a family that’s close-knit and caring, and even more so when it comes to the sweet, devout young vulnerable daughter. Evoked great empathy there for the daughter, as I believe it will here in India too.

So the twists and turns and the curved balls Life keep throwing at Jane, and how the sweet and protected young woman surrounded by interesting characters deals with them, are something to look forward to. Jane The Virgin is a delightful romantic comedy-drama, and if Episode One of Season One is anything to go by, it will be a roller-coaster dramedy ride.

In fact, the citation at its TV Program Of the Year Award win at the AFI Awards USA 2015 puts it succinctly indeed: Jane The Virgin delivers one of the year’s most delightful surprises – a modern melodrama from the telenovela mold, with lively theatrics that elevate it into a class by itself. Immaculately adapted by Jennie Snyder Urman, this romantic comedy finds humor in a tiny, beating heart – and witnesses the birth of a star with Gina Rodriguez’s wide-eyed performance.

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Jane the Virgin is an American romantic comedy-drama television series which debuted in the US on 13 October 2014. The series is created by Jennie Snyder Urman and is a loose adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovela series created by Perla Farias, originally known as Juana La Virgen. I

The series has received critical acclaim since its premiere. Gina Rodriguez won the award for the Best Actress in a Television series – Musical or Comedy, at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards honoring the best in American film and television industry produced during 2014 on 11th January 2015, while the show was nominated for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and was also nominated for the Critics’ Choice Award. The series has won the People’s choice award for the Favorite new TV comedy.


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