The CW on Monday night introduced us to its extremely likable new heroine, Jane the Virgin. But did the telenovela-inspired dramedy fill the Ugly Betty-shaped hole in your heart?
Before you chime in with your thoughts, here’s a recap of the pilot and the players.
Jane Villanueva (played with warmth and relatable charm by The Bold and the Beautiful‘s Gina Rodriguez) has been raised by a single mother, Xiomara (How to Make It in America‘s Andrea Navedo), and her grandmother, Alba (Switched at Birth‘s Ivonne Coll), who used a crushed flower to demonstrate to a young Jane what happens when you don’t protect your virtue.
Now, Jane is a 23-year-old virgin with a steady – not to mention, patient – detective boyfriend, Michael (Ravenswood‘s Brett Dier), who might soon propose. When she protests that it’s way too soon in their timeline to get engaged, her friend counters, “You’ve been dating for two years, and you haven’t boned. He might move up your timeline.”
playboy trapped husband – love the cheeky onscreen graphics – Rafael (Everwood‘s Justin Baldoni), who’s the new owner of the hotel where Jane works. She instantly recognizes him when he approaches, comically swimming away in her mermaid tail costume, but it takes him a while to catch on to how they know each other. (More on that in a moment.) Raf is married to man-eater Petra (Blake Lively doppelganger/Reign‘s Yael Grobglas), who stood by his side through cancer and wants to hold on to her wealthy husband by using his only sperm sample to have their baby (even though she’s having an affair with his friend).
However, there’s a hiccup at the doctor’s office when Petra comes in for the procedure. Jane is just there for a pap smear but ends up getting artificially inseminated by Rafael’s distraught sister, Louisa (who caught her wife in bed with someone else); Petra, meanwhile, just gets a saline spritz, as Louisa tries to cover up her mistake. Louisa’s lawyer ex-lover/college roommate advises her to keep her mouth shut, especially since she’s still under probation. Hmm…
When Jane faints on the bus two weeks later, the ER doc tells her she’s pregnant, sending Jane and her mother into fits of hysterical laughter because, hello, impossible! But every pregnancy test keeps coming back positive. “You are immaculata!” Xiomara exclaims.
Louisa is forced to ‘fess up to all parties about her mistake. Jane spills the pregnancy news to Michael, mid-proposal. He, understandably, doesn’t want to start their lives together by raising another man’s baby. Meanwhile, Xiomara just wants her daughter to know she has a choice about whether or not to have the child. Then Jane’s grandmother reveals that she originally told Xiomara to have an abortion. “But now, you have become the best part of my life, and this will be the best part of your life too,” she says.
There’s also Rafael and Petra to consider, of course. Turns out Raf and Jane met when she was working at his country club. They bonded, shared a grilled cheese and then a kiss, but he never called. He admits he was kind of a jerk back then. But the reformed playboy now wants to have a child, an unexpected byproduct of cancer. So Jane decides to have the baby and give it to the couple. Michael is cool with this situation, so Jane proposes to him this time. Little does she know, her new fiancé may be a little shady, if his brother (Ryan Devlin, Veronica Mars) is any indicator. Another potential can-of-worms sideplot: Michael and his colleagues have surveillance on Raf’s friend, which means they’ve also got photos of him in bed with Petra.
P.S. – Jane’s father, whom she’s never met, is a huge telenovela star! (P.P.S. — He’s played by actual telenovela star Jaime Camil, Que Pobres Tan Ricos.)
Once you get past the noisy title and the justifiably crazy premise — the legal ramifications of which will be dealt with in a future episode — Jane is extremely well-executed. The show’s clear and clever voice is evident within the first few seconds of the episode, which is no easy task to accomplish during a pilot, let alone before the first act break. And while the many soapy telenovela plots could go sideways, for now, color us intrigued and seduced by the affable cast.
What did you think of Jane the Virgin‘s unusual tale? Grade the premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your pick!