Jane The Virgin has fallen off the map a little in its second season. Remember all of the love for the first season? The stellar reviews? The Golden Globe for Gina Rodriguez? And now a lot of that buzz is gone? Which is a goddamn shame because the show is still amazing television.
This week, it might have actually gotten better. In my original review, I mentioned what I believed to be the show’s singular thematic problem:
I have to admit that there’s some weirdness with Jane and her grandmother who was the primary motivation for Jane wanting to remain a virgin until marriage. I would love for that to be addressed within the show (something along the lines of, “Hey, Abuela, turns out that having premarital sex won’t actually mangle my insides or crush my soul. Please put away that wilted flower”). But I understand why that wouldn’t be realistic within the show.
Never doubt the Jane the Virgin writers. Not only did they make that conversation realistic within the show (along with accidental insemination, intentional yet secret insemination, mother-daughter crime lord teams, and two separate kidnapping plots), they made it enjoyable and somehow inherent to the larger story. I mean, how did we ever live without Rogelio’s crazy-stalker, former prison pen-pal? I would pay a not-small sum of money to get a look at their writers’ room. The yarn boards alone must be magnificent. And I’m not sure how many people they’re employing just to keep track of things that might be called back to later, we might want to consider keeping this show on air for as long as possible just to avoid the unemployment numbers resulting from its cancellation.
But I’m now getting away from myself.
The point is, they finally addressed Alba’s lifelong disapproval of premarital sex, the impact that may or may not have had on Jane, and, most importantly, the strain it’s put on her relationship with Xiomara. Because as it turns out, the woman who’s been obsessed with making sure her progeny didn’t bone before the ring, definitely got down before she was married. After having been sufficiently ostracized by the people around her and eventually needing to leave her hometown altogether, Alba wanted to make sure that neither Xiomara nor Jane ever experienced the same kind of shame … by doubling down on the shame and threats of eternal flower wilting. The result was Xo spending her life feeling like she’d disappointed her mother for having a natural and healthy sex drive, and Jane probably being in exactly the same position since Jane’s whole thing is that she’s great at everything. If Jane had premarital sex, it would have been with someone she cared about, fully discussed beforehand, protected and probably ended with simultaneous climax. I don’t know, man, she’s charmed.
And the final larger point, Alba was wrong. The town that shamed her was wrong. The idea that having sex before you’re married is inherently destructive is wrong. The only thing the sex-negative, shame-based method of sex prevention has managed to prove is that it’s ineffective and leads to hurt feelings on every side. The show made that larger point in a small, private, realistic conversation. It doesn’t take away from the show’s central plot device (a virgin having a baby), but it does manage to reframe the show’s history and allow it to move in new directions from here. Alba was wrong, but she isn’t bad. It’s a significant sea change without demonizing anyone, and it managed to make the characters more human and likable in their mistakes. Now if the Jane the Virgin writers could somehow take over the direction of the presidential primaries, I’d be forever grateful.