Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Jane The Virgin mends relationships and comments on Trump’s America

Illustration for article titled Jane The Virgin mends relationships and comments on Trump’s America
TV ReviewsAll of our TV reviews in one convenient place.

No longer a virgin and ready to date after spending three years grieving the death of her husband, Jane Gloriana Villanueva has never been hornier in her entire life. She waited for marriage and had to suffer through years of abstinence, so now that she has total sexual freedom, she wants to make the most of it. The focus of all that desire is Fabian, and Jane is at a point where watching him blow his nose and each nachos turns her on. She really, really wants to have sex with him, but there’s one big problem: The chiseled, well-intentioned dimwit is a born-again virgin.

Fate is a cruel mistress for Jane this week, but putting her in the position of all the horny guys she said no to in the past is enlightening for her character. Her current circumstances make the situation even more intense than it was for those men, and after waiting for so long, getting a short, glorious taste, and then waiting again, Jane is desperate for sexual gratification. This show has gotten viewers very invested in Jane’s sex life because she doesn’t really have one, and for the first two seasons, much of the show’s dramatic tension rested on when Jane was going to have sex for the first time. She’s not a virgin anymore, but sex is still a big deal for her.

Jane only had sex with one man, and he died tragically a few months later. She wants to have a liberated, active sex life, but given what we know about Jane, it would be very difficult for her to have a casual hook-up with the perfect FLING (Fantastic Looking Intellectually No Good) as her first post-Michael sexual experience. I would like to see Jane have a series of successful sexcapades that lower the emotional stakes for her, but I think she likes having those emotional stakes. Sex is more meaningful when you really care about the person it’s with, and that’s why Fabian wants to wait until he’s in a more committed relationship. It’s not what Jane wants to hear, and it puts her in a position where she has to reevaluate her shallow opinion of Fabian and decide if he’s worth putting in the work to get in his pants.

The Fabian story ends up being tied very closely to the other major relationship drama in Jane’s life in “Chapter Sixty-One”: the return of Lina. The absence of Michael overshadowed the fact that Lina hasn’t been seen since the time jump, and we finally discover what drove her and Jane apart when they run into each other in the food truck line. I praised how last week’s episode used Jane’s internet search history to chronicle her growing infatuation with Fabian, and technology is used to inform character again this week when we learn the extent of Jane and Lina’s communication nowadays. Their friendship is being held together by a flimsy thread of Facebook likes, and social media is the only way Jane has been keeping up with Lina’s life. That example of a once-thriving relationship that now consists of sporadic, basic Facebook contact is very relatable for a certain generation of viewers, and it gives a strong impression of how their bond has deteriorated.

Lina didn’t call to say that she was back in town from New York City to prepare for her wedding. Jane randomly sees her and strikes up an awkward conversation, and when they meet up later, they can’t escape that awkwardness. Gina Rodriguez and Diane Guerrero do great work highlighting their characters’ discomfort, and it’s an intense contrast from the ease of their past interactions. They used to have a completely relaxed best friend connection, but now everything is forced and the pauses are long. Jane is ready to give up when Fabian tells her that some friendships are worth fighting for, and they interrupt Lina and her fiancé’s wedding cake tasting so Jane can bury the hatchet with her bestie.

You never know when grief is going to become a major plot point in Jane The Virgin, and writer Paul Sciarrotta uses Jane and Lina to explore how grief can affect friendships and drive people apart. Lina made sure she saw Jane every week during that first year after Michael’s death, but the second year was even harder and Lina wasn’t there. Jane thinks that Lina abandoned her when she moved to New York City and met a new guy, but Lina tried to keep in contact. She wanted to talk to Jane about her new romance, but when she told Jane about a fight she was having with Danny, Jane brought it back to Michael and how she wished she had one more fight with him.


Lina didn’t know how to be happy or upset around Jane during that grieving, and while she could have tried harder to verbalize her issues instead of cutting communication, I can understand how that distance got bigger over time. When is the right time to try again? Lina doesn’t know how far along Jane has come since they last talked—she doesn’t know Jane is dating again—and they’re both in a more stable place now and able to talk through their problems reasonably and with empathy. Rodriguez and Guerrero capture the profound loss these friends have felt without each other and the joyful relief when they finally reconnect, and once they talk it out, it doesn’t take long for them to end up on the bathroom floor, laughing about the craziness of life.

Fabian helps Jane reconnect with Lina, and Lina helps Jane gain a new perspective on her relationship with Fabian. Jane is really judgmental, and she has a hard time getting over first impressions, but Lina is a perfect example of a person that shouldn’t be compatible with Jane on paper, but has all the qualities Jane is looking for in a friend. Jane might not think Fabian is right for her, but maybe she’ll discover new sides to him if she gives him a chance. And she does. He’s sensitive and good with kids and wants to expose himself to the things Jane enjoys (like George Orwell’s 1984), and even though there’s no sex, Jane ends up having a great night with him anyway. It’s also a night that is very reminiscent of Jane’s “The Most Romantic Night Ever” with Rafael back in “Chapter Seven,” which makes me wonder if memories of Rafael make her time with Fabian even more satisfying.


With Anezka back in town causing problems with the police, Petra reveals to Rafael new details about the night of Scott’s death that make the case even more of a mess. After firing Scott, Petra used his company phone to text Anezka and say their relationship was over. She gave Anezka a shoulder to cry on, drugged her, and then impersonated her while she slept (nice symmetry with the Petra-fication plot) to break up with Scott in person, which means Petra has been giving the police a whole bunch of lies. Despite this news, Rafael can’t help himself from giving Petra his longing stare, and he comes clean to Jane about his feelings for Petra. As a friend to them both, Jane tells him to really consider if this is what he wants before pursuing a relationship with Petra again, and when Petra asks him if he still has feelings for her, Jane’s words keep him from saying yes. He should have said something while he had the chance, because the episode ends with Petra in Chuck Chesser’s car, not knowing that he’s the JP (Jerky Pants) the police have been looking for.

Given Jane The Virgin’s history with the topic of immigration, I’ve been waiting to see how the show would address the current fears of the Latino immigrant community in Trump’s America. Would a three-year time jump keep the writers from exploring present-day political issues? Would the series be imagining the country’s political future using current events as a jumping-off point? The answer to the first question is a definite no, and tonight’s script is the first to show the characters responding directly to the Trump administration’s policies. (The Narrator has made some comments in the past, but the show has been dealing with other subjects since the time jump.)


There are no specific events to indicate whether this story is happening in the present or the near future, but Alba’s fear about new ICE raids and growing xenophobia definitely speaks to our current political climate. She’s terrified, and she turns down Jane’s invitation to join her at a protest because she’s worried about ICE finding a reason to take away her green card. When a white woman yells at a customer of The Marbella gift shop for speaking Spanish, Alba is shaken by a mix of rage and shame, and she beats herself up for not coming to the customer’s defense.

Ivonne Coll has a lot of heavy material this week, and you can feel the depth of Alba’s frustration throughout this entire episode. Alba can’t just stand by and watch while hate takes over, and when she has a bedtime chat with Mateo about becoming better by being brave, she knows that she has to become politically active or she won’t escape the despair. Alba tries to convince Jorge to join her, but she realizes that he’s undocumented when he aggressively refuses. Jane’s and Alba’s storylines are connected by them both being with men that are in situations they are already familiar with, and they form stronger connections with their partners by bonding over shared experiences.


Explaining bigotry to children is a tough conversation, but it’s one Jane and Rafael have to have this week when Mateo asks them why some people don’t want peace in this country. Jane explains that America is made up of people from all over, but that there’s a group of people that refuse to acknowledge that, and you can see the wisdom of Jane’s parenting in how she addresses this difficult topic. You can also see the disappointment that she needs to have this conversation at all, but it’s something that Mateo is going to have to deal with in his life and it’s not going to get easier as he gets older, especially in the current U.S. “Chapter Sixty-One” tackles the political material with appropriate gravitas, and ultimately the message is that compassion and action are the things that will get us through a trying time.

Stray observations

  • The Rogelio and Xo story is all about moving too fast, and I think the show has made a wise decision in quickly accelerating this relationship so it doesn’t retread past story beats. They’re back together, they’re engaged, and they’re moving in together. The engagement scene is really cute, and that quick flashback to teenage Rogelio and Xo gives the scene even more dramatic weight by highlighting their history together.
  • Petra and Anezka’s scenes always have blocking and camerawork that puts them side by side in the same frame to reinforce Petra’s power in the relationship. Petra is always straight and severe and doesn’t allow herself to project vulnerability to others. She towers over the meek Anezka, who is anxious, withdrawn, and frightened of her sister. The best thing about having Anezka around is we get to see Yael Grobglas playing a completely different character, and director Melanie Mayron highlights that contrast.
  • I miss Darci Factor. I like that Rogelio and Xo are back together for what looks like the long haul, but I really loved what Justina Machado brought to this ensemble. Luckily, I’ve got a second season of One Day At A Time to look forward to in the near future.
  • Both of Jane’s dinner dates with Fabian are hilarious for different reasons: In the first, Jane can’t stop sexualizing Fabian while he eats, giving us sultry close-ups of him eating nachos, and in the second, there’s a lot of goofy physical comedy as they try to eat dinner in the dark. The latter feels like a bit you might see in an old screwball comedy, and the monochromatic night vision reinforces that idea even if it’s green rather than black-and-white.
  • The wilting flowers on Jane’s shirt are a perfect visual metaphor for her horniness, especially considering how much Jane associates flowers with sex.
  • Rafael needs a haircut.
  • Jane: “Are they shooting the tightie-whities scene?” Xo: “How did you know that?” Jane: “I saw it on Dad’s script and made a mental note in my sex brain.” I love this dialogue, but Fabian is not wearing tightie-whities when they cut to him being pulled legs-first out of a wall by Rogelio. Don’t tease us like that!
  • “Pleeze reconzider, pleeze.”
  • Fabian: “You know that this is based on a true story. There really was a Queen Elizabeth.” Jane: “Is. There still is one.”
  • “Abuela, you know the rules. Only 15 minutes of newspaper a day and never alone in your room.”
  • “Oh, come on, Jane. That’s so not sexy, and I love nachos.”
  • “Okay, this is ridiculous! Wiping your nose is never cute! (Cut to Rogelio wiping his nose.) Oh. Maybe I spoke too soon.”
  • Jane: “Well Timmy is a…” Narrator: “Dick.”
  • Fabian: “So are you reading anything now?” Jane: “Well, because everything that’s going on… Orwell.” Fabian: “The popcorn guy?”
  • “Danny, let’s let the ladies catch up. Where are you from? Who are your enemies?”
  • “I had Botox this morning, so the tears are struggling to fall. But I feel them.”