Diverse Themes in “Jane The Virgin”
According to GLAAD’s recent survey of television diversity, 2015 was the most diverse year for TV. However, there is still a long way to go, with only 43% of regular characters on broadcast television being women and a drop in regular characters with disabilities (from a low 1.4% to an even lower 0.9%), it is no small feat that shows with racial, gender, and sexual diversity are doing well on network television. Many shows with well-rounded casts and crews have been picked up for the next television season, creating an even bigger chance for more diversity on our screens. One of these shows is the CW’s “Jane The Virgin” (JTV).
In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I absolutely love JTV (no hiding that bias). What started out as me lazily flipping through Netflix ended up with me actively sending pictures of the cast to my friends and crying weekly about whatever the characters are going through.
The show stars Gina Rodriguez as the delightful Jane Villanueva, a twenty-three-year-old college student and writer. Jane lives in Miami with her mother Xiomara and her Abuela Alba. Jane’s struggles begin in the pilot when she is accidentally artificially inseminated by former playboy and current heartthrob Rafael Solano (played by the exhaustingly wonderful Justin Baldoni), much to the dismay of her adorably supportive boyfriend and Rafael’s wife.
JTV is the only show with a Latina-dominated cast on network television. Refreshingly, this show focuses on the three generations of Latina women and doesn’t just provide representation; it “fully draws on the complexity of its characters’ Latino culture.” The show’s storyline often revolves around race–but never in the mocking, awkward way that too many other shows with racially-centered storylines do. The show never shies away from important or “touchy” issues, such as immigration, religion, parenthood, and reproductive rights. It also, seemingly effortlessly, ties reality into each conversation; the bilingual household, with Alba speaking in Spanish and Jane typically replying in English, rings true to many of the viewers’ households.
In addition, the show focuses on female empowerment, friendship and the importance of family. It does so in a quick-witted, hilarious, and emotional way that is reminiscent of the telenovela it is loosely based off of.
Other popular and interesting shows with good diversity include “How To Get Away With Murder,” a suspenseful show that stars African-American actress Viola Davis, who became the first black woman to win the Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Drama, “Master of None,” the 2015 Netflix Original starring and written by Aziz Ansari (feel free to read my review of this lovely show here, and “Fresh Off The Boat,” a comedy about an Asian-American family moving from DC to a Florida subdivision in the 90’s.