Jane the Virgin series premiere recap: 'Jane the Virgin' series premiere recap
A virgin finds herself unexpectedly pregnant after an OB-GYN mix-up of epic proportions.
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.
The next morning a sleepy Jane and a weepy Luisa kick off their days in a well-appointed doctor’s office. The good—yet very sad—doctor is covering for another OB-GYN and has an insemination and a pap smear on deck. (If you hadn’t seen the premieres for the show or read the name of the series, this is where your spidey senses probably started kicking in that something was about to go amiss.)
Although Jane misses the first part of the conversation because she feel asleep, upon waking she immediately notices two things: Luisa isn’t her usual doctor and this doctor is barely able to control her sobs. Jane’s a little concerned, but Dr. Alver is in and out quickly (in more ways than one), so no harm no foul, right? Right?
Wrong. Dr. Luisa heads to the next exam room where the real artificial insemination patient is waiting: Petra. Which means Dr. Luisa accidentally inseminated a total stranger with her brother’s defrosted sperm—the sperm meant for Petra, who wants to surprise her husband with news of a pregnancy. A cutaway to Chinese food by candlelight reveals Petra telling Rafael she’s been inseminated (little does she know it’s saline). This begs the question: Why did Raphael—a seemingly healthy guy in his early 30s, with the snow-white teeth and bulging biceps characteristic of most leading men on The CW—need to have his sperm frozen?
But back to Jane. It’s two weeks later and she and Xo are on their morning bus commute. Though Jane’s feeling queasy, her sweet side isn’t suffering and she volunteers to vacate her seat when nuns board the too-full bus. She gets up and hits the floor in a soap opera-worthy swoon.
Could it be? Jane wakes up in the hospital where she’s told that she’s preggers. Hearing the news, Jane and Xo burst into laughter, as it’s clearly impossible that Jane—who’s never had sex—could be pregnant. Xio demands another pregnancy test, but another pink stick means it’s true.
“Imaculata!” Xo shrieks. “You are Imaculata!” With the majority of U.S. Latinos identifying as Catholic, this is a precious reference that feels simultaneously over-the-top and totally appropriate. Jane dismisses her mom’s exultations—her mom is crossing herself and launching into a full-fledged Hail Mary—and proceeds to call Dr. Alver’s office in order to get to the bottom of her so-called “immaculate conception.”
And Dr. Alver does have a very good explanation: “I accidentally inseminated you two weeks ago.”
YOU WHAT??? As the sounds of Spanish guitar play, Jane starts to panic, struck with the realization she might become the woman she worked her entire life to avoid becoming: a young mom. Her eyes wander over to the wall, where a rack of magazines—and specifically a cover of a Spanish tabloid advertising the hottest man on TV—catches her attention. In a moment of magic realism—the sort that Latin American authors like Isabel Allende have crafted into a genre unto their own—the stud (real-life telenovela star Jaime Camil) magically appears before Jane. “Everything will be okay,” he counsels in melodic Spanish tones. “You will get through this.”
As quickly as Mr. Soap Studmuffin appeared, he’s gone—and in his stead, Dr. Alver offers Jane some options and tells her she’s not expected to talk to the father. The father? Jane’s disbelief over the situation made her forget that there was a real flesh-and-blood man involved and she makes an all-important realization: She’s in a committed relationship with one man and pregnant with another man’s child.
Jane heads to her boyfriend’s home, where he launches into a marriage proposal. It’s a scene full of bad timing. Jane interrupts to tell him she’s pregnant. And then the doorbell interrupts before the detective-in-training can fully analyze the situation—it’s their families coming to celebrate her not-yet-given “yes.”
At the hotel, Rafael—who just learned his sister used his sample to inseminate a stranger—is drowning his feelings in a few cold ones at the bar with Roman. Surprise, surprise: Rafael wants the baby. We find out that Rafael froze some of his sperm as a precaution before being struck with cancer and that sperm represents his only chance to become a dad. Will Petra go for it? Roman is oddly reassuring—but that’s neither here nor there (for now). And Petra does say she’d be happy to keep the bébé. Quickly, Rafael’s phone rings and it’s his sister, Dr. Alver. She has some news: Jane The Virgin actually is an employee at the hotel. Rafael arranges for Jane to stop by the pool, where Jane is about to apologize for calling him a jerk. After all, he’s her boss. But that’s not what he’s here to talk about. DUM DUM DUM. JANE, I AM YOUR BABY’S FATHER.
NEXT: But that’s not all.
Jane tells Rafael that they have a history: They shared a smooch at the yacht club where she used to work. She tells him she’s not ready for motherhood and Rafael never once mentions the C-word: cancer. Their meeting over, he calls Petra, who can’t believe he didn’t play the cancer card. She’s about to hyperventilate when someone sits up next to her. It’s appears she’s mid-nookie with none other than hotel manager Roman, who tells Petra to calm down and remember the math: five years married to Rafael equals $10 million.
Then Michael shows up at Jane’s—is it just me, or has this been the longest day ever?—and tells her he can’t support Jane’s pregnancy.
We’re suddenly part of the audience at a bar where Xiomara is channeling her idol Paulina Rubio as she shakes her thang in a fringed silver mini dress. After the show, Xo and Jane share a moment when Xo confesses that she always wanted to keep her pregnancy. It was her mother, Jane’s abuelita, who had encouraged an abortion. The lesson to be learned? Jane has to make her own decisions and she makes up her mind to give the baby to Rafael and his wife, Petra.
All this occurs as Rafael tells Petra he wants a divorce. The scene quickly shifts to some sort of sting operation involving Jane’s detective boyfriend as a part of a team observing Roman, the hotel manager-slash-Petra’s lover.
The next scene is a throwback to actress Gina Rodriguez’s performance as the titular character in the 2012 hip-hop indie and Sundance favorite Filly Brown. Clad in a sweatshirt, the hood framing her face, Jane is just like Filly: a girl with a choice to make and goals to pursue.
Back at the bar, the bartender tells Xio there’s someone to see her. It’s the leading man from the telenovela, the star who appeared before Jane in the exam room and… Jane’s father—although he just learned about her. Someone has a lot of explaining to do…
Over at police HQ, Jane appears to tell Michael that she’s decided to give the baby to Rafael and Petra. She then proposes to him, much to the amusement of the detective squad that’s gathered to observe them. He says yes!
So if you’re keeping track: That’s numerous passionate kisses, two sex acts, two affairs, plus two marriage proposals, a baby daddy appearance, a pregnancy, intergenerational strife, a lesbian cheating scandal, and one pending criminal investigation. It’s a lot for one episode—really, more than the entire season of some shows—but Jane handles it deftly, switching scenes and circumstances easily in keeping with the fast-paced nature of the telenovela format.
With 30-year-old Rodriguez at the helm—who, it’s worth noting, makes Jane engaging and relatable, rather than at all prudish—Jane feels refreshing in its every girl treatment, especially in its time slot behind vampire drama The Originals. Sure, the Latin-flavored tone of the series is shamelessly soapy in the tradition of Ugly Betty, but without a designer wardrobe, superhero powers or supernatural sex appeal, Jane stands out on primetime television as a twentysomething anyone can relate to: a young woman determined to create her own destiny while holding on to what she values most. However, the jam-packed pilot leaves plenty of fodder for the season ahead, so here’s some food (make mine a grilled cheese à la Jane) for thought:
–Will Jane end up with Rafael? That seems a natural story line since Rafael is mulling over a divorce and he and Jane have a history.
–Something is fishy regarding the hotel’s financial state and the takeover that Roman seem to be part of as new management. Agree or disagree?
–What kind of character is Michael’s brother? And what does he seem to be holding over Michael? The narrator noted toward the end of the episode that Michael isn’t the man Jane believes him to be—does that mean he’ll become a villain of sorts?
–What about her mother’s romantic status? Xo is flirty and unafraid—will she get a love interest of her own in the series?
–Jane will (obviously) reunite with her soap star dad, but how? When?
–Will we ever see Jane in class, interacting with other students? In the tradition of some of TV’s most notable coming-of-age dramas—Beverly Hills 90210, Gilmore Girls, Felicity, Gossip Girl—some of the juiciest scenes happen in school. #justsaying
–Jane’s mom is an aspiring pop star—with the news that Juanes will guest star as a record label exec, does Xo ever make it big?
–On that note: is a musical-themed Jane episode in the works? After all, Rodriguez rapped in Filly Brown and once planned to release an album.
–Who is investigating Roman? Why? And what’s the backstory to his love affair with Petra? Feel free to share your conspiracy theories.
–Why is Dr. Luisa on probation (as her ex-lover/lawyer consultant mentioned)?
–I have a sneaky feeling that there’s another sample of Rafael’s sperm somewhere, or that cancer hasn’t rendered him infertile.
–And the obvious: How long does Jane stay a virgin? Will we get a monumental sex scene?
–Will Daniela Alvarado, the actress who played Jane in the original Venezuelan series, make an appearance?
–Can we start praying for a guest star arc by Pitbull, whose single “Don’t Stop The Party” was featured in this episode? YES, PLEASE.
As the show’s voice-of-God narrator said, “to be continued.”
Jane the Virgin