As the first comedy offering on The CW—a network whose primetime programming veers toward the supernatural, super sexy, and superhero—Jane The Virgin feels spectacularly different. Adapted from the popular Venezuelan soap opera Juana la Virgen, the comedy revolves around one spectacularly disastrous moment: when the 23-year-old Latina protagonist finds out she’s been accidentally inseminated by a distracted OB-GYN. Ironically, Jane—a type-A who’s busy balancing relationships, a part-time job, and her college education—has tried her entire life to avoid drama. But as the pilot—written by Jennie Snyder Urman (Emily Owens)—unfolds, her life quickly mirrors the colorful ups and downs, trials and temptations of the telenovelas her mom and grandma faithfully watch. As we say in Spanish, ahora comienza la fiesta (let’s get the party started)!
The show opens with a flashback featuring 10-year-old Jane Gloria Villanueva. According to a voice-of-God narrator, Jane loves family, God, and grilled cheese sandwiches. We’re then introduced to her abuelita (Ivonne Coll) whose interests include God and Jane. Just as Jane’s instructed to examine the beautiful white flower her grandmother has handed her, mom Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) interrupts the scene. Xiomara—who had Jane out of wedlock when she was a teen—is interested in Jane and Mexican pop star Paulina Rubio.
Then the scene sets the tone for the season to come:
“Crumple the flower, Jane. Now try to make it look new again. Go on, try,” says Jane’s grandmother in subtitled Spanish.
“You can never go back. And that’s what happens when you lose your virginity. You can never go back. Never forget that Jane.”
And Jane never did.
Fast-forward 13 and a half years later to a hot-and-heavy make-out session between a grown-up Jane (Gina Rodriguez) and her boyfriend of two years, Michael Cordero (Brett Dier), whom Jane has managed to keep sexually at bay. Mid-make-out, Jane looks up, where the crumpled white flower—which now sits in an attractive white frame—is posted above her bed. Time to practice some Chakra breathing techniques because Jane’s about to shut this session down and send Michael—rookie detective badge in hand—on his way…
“Meanwhile, 8.2 miles away from where Jane lives, but half a world away…”
We’re next introduced to Rafael Solano (Justin Baldoni): a hotel owner, former playboy, and trapped husband. He’s just received news about a financial crisis involving the hotel and is being consoled by his wife, Petra (Yael Groblas). She tells him to relax… and then heads downtown while Raphael gives a contended sigh. We all know what that means. (So far sexual acts on a show about a virgin include a make-out session, one sweet kiss, one telenovela smooch, and one bl– job.) But Petra—who is introduced as a conniving “man-eater”—has a problem of her own: Her husband doesn’t love her.
With her, the telenovela trope lineup seems nearly complete, but we’re nowhere near done meeting characters.
Next is Roman Zazo; he works for the management company that just bought the hotel. He passes out straws to Jane and her female coworkers. Guess who gets the proverbial and literal short end? That’d be Jane. “Congratulations,” says Roman. “You’ve got the tail.”
A mermaid tail, to be precise—which Jane wears as she floats on a half shell in the hotel pool, with a bottle of champagne in hand. The characters’ worlds start to converge as this is Rafael’s hotel. He’s nearby debating with his sister whether he should get a divorce from pouty-lipped Petra. But this is a telenovela offshoot, so of course Petra has been listening to their conversation the entire time.
Raphael gets up and walks straight into Jane’s direction, which causes her to freak out. She dumps the bottle of champagne and belly flops into the pool. Thanks to Jane’s friend (hereto referred to as Sassy Latina #1), we learn that they’ve met before: “You had a monster crush on him!” Before the rest of the cocktail waitresses can chime in, Jane volunteers to walk a couple bottles of champagne to a waiting table. She’s coolly pouring glasses for guests—well as coolly as a girl with wet hair, a bedazzled bikini top, and a skin-tight mermaid tail can—when Rafael walks over. She looks familiar, he says. Did he once meet her at the strip club? Jane’s response: “Jerk.” Brava, Jane, brava!
Cut to Dr. Luisa Alver, Rafael’s sister. She’s home, taking off her tacones (that’s high heels for you non-Spanish speakers) and walks to the bedroom, where she’s greeted by the sounds of a few moans—it’s her wife and a companion. Looks like wifey is cheating!
Total sex acts thus far: 2.
NEXT: Now that is medical negligence.