October 13, 2014



JANE THE VIRGIN:  Monday 9PM on CW – If Nothing Else Is On…

Disclaimer: Network pilots now in circulation aren’t necessarily in their final form. It’s not unusual for pilots to be reedited and re-scored, and in some cases even recast or reshot, before hitting the air. Consider these reports to be guides to the general style and content of the new shows coming your way.

PLAYERS:  Ugly Betty, plus the whole notion of basing US TV shows on Spanish-language series (Red Band Society and The Mysteries of Laura are two more this season), and especially Executive Producer Ben Silverman, who’s was one of those behind Betty and is back for another go.  US series creator Jennie Snyder Urman, who created the short-lived and little-loved Emily Owens, MD, and who’s been a senior writer/producer on shows from Gilmore Girls to the rebooted 90210.  A cast headed by Gina Rodriguez (she starred in the notable if little-seen indie movie Filly Brown), with Justin Baldoni, Brett Dier, Andrea Navedo, Yael Grobglass, and Ivon Coll.  Pilot director Brad Silberling.  Warner Bros Television and CBS Studios.

PREMISE:  Jane Villanueva (Rodriguez) is indeed a virgin, keeping herself and her policeman boyfriend Michael (Dier) pure until marriage.  But then one day an OB-GYN mistakenly inseminates her instead of giving her a pap smear, and you can imagine.  Further complicating matters:  the sperm belongs to Rafael (Baldoni), who is not only Jane’s rich hotel owner boss, but the subject of a mad crush of hers–he’s also married, to the scheming Petra (Grobglass).

PILOT:  Considering how ridiculous Jane the Virgin is, it’s remarkable that the pilot holds together as well as it does.  A great deal of that credit goes to Rodriguez, who manages to be somewhat grounded in an utterly silly role.  The tone is less primary-color comic book than Ugly Betty was, although it’s still a mix of over-the-top comedy and attempts at drama.  The “virgin” gag is going to be exhausted very quickly, especially since the facts around Jane’s pregnancy are clear by the end of the pilot, and what will be left is a lot of Jane swooning over Rafael but of course not being able to be with him, while his evil wife makes mischief.  The final plot twist of the pilot suggests that the show is all-in on melodrama, and in a more meta way than Ugly Betty usually attempted.  Jane–and especially Jane herself–is likable, but there’s a strong possibility the show will start feeling forced rather quickly.

PROSPECTS:  It’s going to take some heavenly intervention for Jane the Virgin to have much chance of succeeding.  It’s paired on Mondays with The Originals, a show aimed at a very different (although also young and female) audience, and doesn’t have many elements that would suggest it can be a self-starter.  Hart of Dixie, the only other rom-com on CW, failed on Mondays and was sent packing to Fridays.  However, going for it is the fact that none of the other broadcast networks are pursuing the same viewers, with The Voice, Dancing With the Stars, Scorpion and Sleepy Hollow as the competition.  Also, CW’s standards for “success” are so low that they’re sometimes easy to confuse with invisibility.  If Jane can generate some good press and manage to hang onto a moderate portion of its lead-in, it has a longshot possibility of surviving.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."