Moderator James Corden had a very direct opening question at a Jane the Virgin FYC panel on Tuesday: “Why th f–k did you kill off Michael?” It’s a question showrunner and executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman has addressed before and she did so again, once a hooting and hollering audience quieted down, with support from cast members Gina Rodriguez (Jane), Jaime Camil (Rogelio), Yael Grobglas (Petra), Brett Dier (Michael), Andrea Navedo (Xiomara), Ivonne Coll (Alba), and Justin Baldoni (Rafael).
“It was always the journey,” Urman explained. “It was always the journey that this loss would be a grounding moment in the middle of the series. I thought that this show started with this woman who had everything in her life planned and then her life spun out of control with this unexpected pregnancy and we’ve been sort of mining the drama and comedy from that ever since and at the midpoint of the show, I always knew she was going to lose her husband and I was always afraid to do it.”In between, Dier joked after some prodding from the
Dier joked after some prodding from the Late Late Show host that despite this being the plan, he didn’t know this was the journey he was going to go on.
“It was terrible,” Urman continued. “It was heartbreaking. I put a line in the first season that said, ‘For as long as Michael lived, he would love Jane.’ That was really to force myself to carry through with what I thought the story arc was despite how much we loved Brett and how charming he was and how much audiences loved him. I really every day would come into the writers’ room and there would be three people like, ‘We can’t kill him.’ And then… we’d go through what we could do and we’d go through all these stories and stories and stories and then we would come out at the end and say, ‘No, definitely, he’s gotta die.’”
And so he did and so it was heartbreaking, but the dramedy took some of that devastating edge off by flashing ahead three years. “I felt like it was an opportunity to really massively grow and to become this mother and to hunker down, and the routine she has now and the way she sees sex is different, the way she views relationships and love and destiny and fate,” Rodriguez said of exploring her character, now a widow and single mother, following that leap. “She’s become… a little cynical. It’s interesting to take this blossoming character that was so full of life, to actually now start having what we can all relate to, what becomes our traumas that start to shape us. Jane was my big first character to live with for this long, but how often do we get to see a show [where] we actually get to see somebody then affected by their traumas and who they become after that?”
She makes a good point, but all that’s not to say that Jane is now a cynic. On the contrary, Urman echoes that our heroine is shaken by the death but gets her fantastical worldview somewhat back — in part, it seems, by falling in love once more.
“Will we ever see Jane truly romantically involved and moving on with someone else?” Corden asked.
“Yes,” Urman answered, a response that was met by gasps from the audience, with Corden yelling about how Dier is right there in the room. “Part of the journey is, like Gina said, she started out this optimistic, romantic dreamer and then she was hit by reality in a really big way. What I want to see in the back half of the series is how she regains some of that optimism, some of that love, and starts to believe in romance again and how it’s different from what she first thought it was, so we’re going to get into that and how does Jane believe in magic again.”
Right, but who will she move on with and when will it happen? That, is the question.
In the meantime, here’s more to look forward to…
• “We change [the episode introductions] depending on the theme, and the feeling is that [Jane] was defined by her virginity for so long, but obviously she’s so much more, so we were trying to expand the definition of what Jane is,” Urman said, then teasing one that’s coming up. “You’ll see ‘Jane the Horndog’ pretty soon.” Could that be a reference to Jane’s attraction to Rogelio’s good looking new costar…
• Speaking of, Camil said that attraction will create some tension between Rogelio and the costar. Tension indeed, as Urman explained, “There’s a fight during crew lunch.”
• More seriously, “We feel a responsibility to react to this presidency,” Urman said about where the show, which addressed abortion this season, stands in the current, political climate. “We have an episode coming up that deals with Jane’s son Mateo [asking] why people don’t want Abuela in this country. We start to talk about immigration and the raids and how do you explain that to your children? We try to take anything that’s political and put it in the realm of our family and the hope is that by making people look at people and not positions, we can encourage empathy.”
Catch Jane the Virgin when it returns after a few weeks away on Monday, April 24 at 9 p.m. E.T. on The CW.