May 12, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Jane the Virgin”


Achieving the right tone is critical for any TV show, of course, but the task may be trickiest on JANE THE VIRGIN, with its mix of old-fashioned sentiment, broad comedy, melodramatic telenovela plotting and arch self-parody.  It’s quite an achievement of Jennie Snyder Urman, creator/showrunner of the US version of the show (who’d previously paid her dues on everything from Gilmore Girls to the 90210 reboot, and who was responsible for the sad Emily Owens, M.D.)  that Jane usually hits its mark, one that carries a very high level of difficulty–not too sanctimonious yet not too silly, moral but not moralistic, and often full-on charming.

The show’s success begins with its delicious all-knowing narration, delivered with orotund wit by Anthony Mendez, and its inventive use of on-screen graphics.  (Hashtags have seldom been so entertaining.)  The trio of Villanueva women are all tremendous, starting of course with Gina Rodriguez’s radiant Jane, who manages to maintain an emotional throughline no matter where the contortions of the plot lead.  Jane’s mother Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) and traditionalist grandmother Alba (Ivonne Coll) are almost Rodriguez’s equal, and even Yael Grobglas, as Jane’s nemesis Petra, is somehow likable despite her endless conniving.  Jane’s suitors, unfortunately, are not up to her standards, and Justin Baldoni, as Rafael, the rich hotel-owning biological father of Jane’s accidental child, and Brett Dier, as her doggedly loyal cop ex-fiancee Michael, are merely serviceable.  That’s more than made up for, however, by the triumphant presence of Jaime Camil as Rogelio, Jane’s own delightfully vain biological dad, who seems to embody the very spirit of telenovela as one of its stars.  (The sight of Rogelio, trapped in a supporting role on a low-budget sci-fi project and performing as a disembodied head on a green screen, was worth all 22 episodes.)

A broadcast TV season being roughly the length of a pregnancy, tonight’s season finale, written by Urman and Consulting Producer Josh Reims, and directed by Zetna Fuentes, marked the time for Jane to go into labor.  A lot of typical birthing episode tropes were touched upon (contractions on a city bus, Xo and Rogelio being out of town when the labor unexpectedly began), but the show gets credit for rejecting the cliche of the expectant mother being too late for her epidural, and there was real warmth in the sequence of Jane and Rafael revealing the baby’s name(s).  Naturally, there was plenty of material left for Season 2, not just Jane’s continuing inability to choose between Rafael and Michael (and/or lose her virginity), and Petra’s opportunity to steal Rafael’s unused frozen sperm, but a baby kidnapping by the fearsome gangster Sin Rostro (who, thanks to some plastic surgery, will be re-cast in the new season).

Despite the critical raves and Golden Globes, Jane the Virgin hasn’t been a breakout hit for CW–no doubt the network will encourage binge-watching over the summer–but it’s done well enough, especially given its incompatible lead-in from The Originals, and it’s given CW a credibility the network has rarely had before.  It will be a challenge for Urman and the rest of her team to keep the series on target as time goes on; so far, they’ve been up to the task.

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."